Week one done. Onwards to the second week. Friday was one of the most exciting tennis days of the year. The women’s match-ups promised plenty and totally delivered. Saturday didn’t quite match the quality but did in terms of seismic shocks! I’m now on holiday in North Wales and it looks like we’ve got really lucky with some actual sunshine. I’ll be watching the tennis and might share a few thoughts on the previews page if i’m feeling moved by the tennis. Read on for a wrap-up from a thrilling two days of tennis in New York.
Day 5️⃣ and 6️⃣ Highlights
(16) Angelique Kerber d. Sloane Stephens, 5-7 6-2 6-3 (Friday)
Take a bow ladies because this was an excellent match, probably the match of the day on the women’s side on Friday. Interested to know if you think I am exaggerating if I were to say this is one of the best wins of Kerber’s career? To set the scene, Kerber had lost her last five matches against Stephens and most of these matches were beatdowns. 6-2 6-2, 6-1 6-2 and most recently in the 2018 WTA Finals, 6-3 6-3.
And you couldn’t blame Kerber for feeling disheartened as she found herself down a set despite a gritty late fightback. Stephens’s level during much of the first set was phenomenal. It’s been coming this year. I was taken aback by how good Sloane was and the angles she was able to generate. Key to the match turning around was Kerber’s attitude and positivity at the start of the second set. She sent a message across the net that she wasn’t going anywhere. Kerber was the more aggressive player in the second set and served well as Stephens’s level tailed off.
Stephens started the third set strongly as she began to weave those delightful angles once more. Sloane had chances to break. At 1-0 and then 3-3 when she chalked up break points. Didn’t take them. There was one volley at the net at 1-0 that Stephens pushed long which felt pivotal. After saving break points, Kerber then scored the lucrative break in the crucial seventh game. I sensed Kerber was tiring in the third set but she was absolutely relentless in defence. In the end it felt like Kerber actually wore down Stephens.
A greattt match. Kind of sad that they had to meet so early because I honestly think they were both in title-winning form. This Kerber resurgence since Bad Homburg has been quite remarkable. Angie is a title contender IMO.
(9) Garbiñe Muguruza d. (18) Victoria Azarenka, 6-4 3-6 6-2 (Friday)
Muguruza reached the second week in New York for just the second time in her career with an excellent win over three-time US Open finalist, Azarenka. This match lived up to the expectation I’d built up in my head. It was a clinic of ballstriking, particularly in terms of the depth that both players consistently delivered with their groundstrokes.
Muguruza rallied from an early break down in the first set and then won 12 of the last 13 points as she began to serve really well with plenty of free points. The end of the first set was the best level I’d seen from Muguruza since the start of the season. The joy on serve was shortlived for Muguruza though as she lost her rhythm, perhaps with a few foot fault calls? Azarenka pounced in style. Into a third set and it was shaping up very nicely as both players were clutch to save break points and both had success coming forward. I thought the difference in the end was simply Muguruza’s serve as she found her rhythm again from the first set and drew away to win the last four games of the match.
A very good match. An exciting and closer finish would have elevated this into the great category. There’s something about Muguruza at this tournament. Muguruza seems relaxed, content and quite jolly in press. The draw is rough ahead but Garbi seems in a happy place right now.
(12) Simona Halep d. (19) Elena Rybakina, 7-6(11) 4-6 6-3 (Friday)
The first set was one of the rollercoaster sets of the year. Rybakina 3-0 to Halep 3-3 to Rybakina 5-3 to Halep 6-5 and to the tiebreaak. And whattt a tiebreak it was. I thought the match up to the tiebreak, while entertaining, was pretty dreadful quality. Both tightened up when they had chances to serve out the set and Rybakina was especially wayward.
The first set tiebreak was a different kettle of fish as the intensity and quality went up several levels. Rybakina locked in from 2-6 to save four consecutive set points. The momentum then swung from side-to-side. Halep’s set point save at 8-9 was a thing. Such a wonderful sight to see Simona playing so aggressively! A real shame that the tiebreak had to end on a Rybakina double fault as it was a thriller.
Halep went onto win in three sets and reach the last 16 of the US Open for the first time since 2016. Didn’t see this coming at all and I’m not sure Simona did either to be honest! A feel-good story considering how injuries have ravaged Halep’s 2021 season.
Emma Raducanu d. Sara Sorribes Tormo, 6-0 6-1 (Saturday)
Oh. My. Goodness. I wrote in my preview to write off Sorribes Tormo at your own peril. That aged well 😂. Raducanu produced an outstanding display to beat Sorribes Tormo for the loss of just one game! SST has been one of the most improved players of the year and developed into one of the toughest competitors on the tour. This scoreline 😮😮😮.
I think what impressed me most about Raducanu was her utter ruthlessness. She never took her foot off the pedal and maintained her intensity from start to finish. Raducanu took the game to Sorribes Tormo and had the perfect tactics as she was both patient and aggressive. Raducanu tore into the Sorribes Tormo’s serve and was mostly unphased by the slice too. And that forehand winner on match point!!!
(7) Iga Swiatek d. (28) Anett Kontaveit, 6-3 4-6 6-3 (Saturday)
This was probably the best match of the day on Saturday, at least during the day session. Fun stat that I have to admit the bro alerted me to. There is just one player who has reached the second week at all four Slams… Iga Swiatek. That’s a feat. After splitting sets, I thought Swiatek’s groundstrokes had an extra dimension in the third set and she did a great job at opening up the court.
While I was sleeping 😴
The biggest upsets, and first real upsets of the tournament, both took place at night. On Friday night, Leylah Fernandez ousted the number three seed and defending champion, Naomi Osaka, 5-7 7-6(2) 6-4. Osaka shared afterwards in press that she plans to take a break from tennis.
And then on Saturday night, Shelby Rogers ousted the number one seed and favourite, Ash Barty. Rogers rallied from 2-5 down in the third set to record her first ever win over Ash, 6-2 1-6 7-6(5).
Hot shot 🔥
Snap of the day 📸
Press highlights 📰
Highlights from Barty and Rogers’s press conferences. I’m sad for Ash but at the same time, sooo happy for Shelby. She’s one of my favourite personalities on tour.
Funny moment 🤣
Oh come on Pam! This was a great interview 😂.
Recommended media 📺
Naomi Osaka’s press conference after a third round loss to Fernandez. Naomi’s response to the questions from Japanese press was a tough watch 😭. Take your time, Naomi.
Day 8 watchlist 📺
Thoughts about day 8 matches and the start of the fourth round can be found on the separate page here.
(8) Barbora Krejcikova vs. (9) Garbiñe Muguruza
(5) Elina Svitolina vs. (12) Simona Halep
(2) Aryna Sabalenka vs. (15) Elise Mertens
(16) Angelique Kerber vs. Leylah Fernandez