Canada's Andreescu knocked out of U.S. Open after losing 3 1/2-hour match to Greece's Sakkari
Novak Djokovic defeats Jenson Brooksby to keep Grand Slam hopes alive
Greek Maria Sakkari emerged triumphant from a grueling three-hour 30-minute battle with former champion Bianca Andreescu at the U.S. Open on Monday, clinching a 6-7(2) 7-6(6) 6-3 victory to reach the quarter-finals.
The contest at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York ended at 2:13 a.m. ET — the latest finish to a women's singles match at the hardcourt major, which will crown a new women's champion following the Canadian's defeat.
"I actually think I have a very bad record with night matches," Sakkari told reporters. "When I found out yesterday I'm playing at night, I was not happy at all because I'm an early morning person. I still haven't figured out how I have to plan my day.
"Now, well, I can say that it happened, that I played tennis at 2:30 in the morning."
WATCH | Andreescu suffers 1st-ever U.S. Open loss:
It was the first defeat at Flushing Meadows for 2019 champion Andreescu, who suffered an injury in the middle of the deciding set but kept fighting.
Sakkari helped the Canadian to an early break in the first set with a trio of double faults before finding her footing.
Andreescu, the 2019 champion, won a punishing 21-shot rally to open the first-set tiebreak before clinching the set with three straight points, capping it off with an ace.
Sakkari, who faces fourth seed Karolina Pliskova in the quarter-final, said she knew she had to change her approach to stay in the match.
"I knew that I lost the first set because I was doing some things wrong. I was not very brave. So I had to change that," she said.
The Greek struggled with her serve again in the second set, putting up five double faults, but broke her opponent in the second game to get her nose in front. She then held serve in an 11th game that lasted 10 minutes.
The second set tiebreak went Sakkari's way, the 17th seed clinching it at the fourth attempt.
Down 3-2 in the third set, Andreescu received treatment on her left thigh before leaving the court for a medical timeout and returning with her leg wrapped.
With Sakkari leading 5-3 and up 30-0 in the ninth game, a hurting Andreescu screamed, "This sucks!" but managed to fend off three match points before the Greek converted on a fourth.
Andreescu missed the 2020 season due to injury and the challenges of playing in the COVID-19 pandemic and failed to get beyond the first round at Wimbledon or the French Open this year.
Sakkari said she was prepared for the match to go even deeper but was happy it did not.
"I was prepared for 7-6 in the third. But if you know, if it comes easier then I'll take it," she added.
"I knew it was gonna be a very tough match. She loves this court, her best memories," said Sakkari, who reached the Roland Garros semifinals earlier this year
Djokovic cruises past Brooksby
For half an hour and a full set at the start, then one particularly compelling and competitive game later, Novak Djokovic's opponent in the U.S. Open's fourth round, Jenson Brooksby, gave him fits and created a raucous atmosphere under the lights at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
That let Djokovic, above all, and everyone else, too, know that Brooksby — a 20-year-old wild-card entry from California who is ranked 99th and never before had been on this sort of stage — belonged. And then, not surprisingly, Djokovic showed why he is who he is and how he's managed to move within three victories of the first calendar-year Grand Slam in men's tennis in 52 years.
Settling in and sending messages to the fans with roars and to Brooksby with some staredowns, No. 1 Djokovic improved to 25-0 in majors this year by winning 1-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 on Monday night. He extended his pursuit of a true Slam and a record-breaking 21st major championship while also eliminating the last American singles player in the tournament.
It is the first time in the history of an event that dates to the 1880s that no man or woman from the host country reached the quarter-finals.
One key to the turnaround by Djokovic, as good a returner as there is: He broke in Brooksby's initial service game in each of the last three sets.
Perhaps affected by the physical nature of the extended exchanges, Brooksby was visited by a trainer after the second set and again after the third. Still, for someone who never had set foot on Ashe's blue court until about two hours before the match, when he got a chance to practice there, Brooksby never seemed overwhelmed by the setting or the circumstances.
"A very young, very talented player," Djokovic said. "I told him at the net a bright future is ahead of him."
His 6-foot-4 strides and reach, his anticipation, his variety including a well-disguised two-handed backhand slice, his think-steps-ahead point construction, his commitment to patterns drawn up by his coach at home in Sacramento since age 7, Joe Gilbert — all left Djokovic a tad discombobulated early.
'It wasn't a great start'
"It wasn't a great start for me. Obviously, Jenson was pumped. He had a clear game plan. He was executing all the shots efficiently. I was on my back foot," said Djokovic, who is trying to be the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win all four Slam trophies in one year and also aiming to eclipse the men's mark of 20 career majors he shares with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. "He was reading the play very well."
In the first set, Brooksby made one unforced error, Djokovic 11. And Brooksby won 14 of the points that lasted five strokes or more, Djokovic four.
When Djokovic netted an overhead to move Brooksby two points from the set, most of the spectators in the 23,000-plus-capacity arena — excited to be back after last year's ban on audiences amid the pandemic — rose, clapping and screaming.
When Djokovic missed a return to cede that set to his foe, Brooksby waved both arms and heard more loud support.
WATCH | Djokovic moves on at US Open:
"Electric. Awesome. I enjoyed it. I truly did," said Djokovic, who soon would be hearing his own cheers. "You guys gave both of the players a lot of energy."
He broke to go up 2-0 in the second set and punched the air and shouted. At 3-1 arrived an epic game: six break chances, nice deuces, 24 points in all, spread out over nearly 20 minutes. Djokovic pushed the ball into the net to end that game and make it 3-2, prompting Brooksby to hop and jump and windmill his arm and cry, "Let's go!"
And then, quick as can be, Djokovic regrouped. With Brooksby gasping for air, Djokovic broke right back and, soon enough, the outcome was clear.
"The momentum," declared Djokovic, a 34-year-old from Serbia, "was changed."
He next meets No. 6 Matteo Berrettini of Italy in a rematch of the Wimbledon final.
Zverev defeats Sinner
Alexander Zverev is into the U.S. Open quarter-finals with his 15th straight victory.
The No. 4 seed from Germany beat 13th-seeded Jannik Sinner 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (7).
Zverev started his winning streak at the Olympics, where he beat top-ranked Novak Djokovic in the semifinals en route to the gold medal.
Bencic advances to quarters
Belinda Bencic is back into the quarter-finals of the U.S. Open.
The Olympic gold medallist from Switzerland beat Iga Swiatek 7-6 (12), 6-3 to make the last eight in Flushing Meadows for the third time.
The 11th-seeded Bencic pulled out the lengthy first-set tiebreaker, then took the second set in 43 minutes — only about 20 more than the tiebreaker lasted.
Bencic was a semifinalist at the U.S. Open in 2019, the last time she played. She also reached the quarterfinals in her debut in 2014.
Swiatek, the No. 7 seed from Poland who won last year's French Open, was the only women's player to reach the fourth round in every major this year.
Raducanu through to quarter-finals
Emma Raducanu has gone all the way from the U.S. Open qualifying rounds to the quarter-finals.
The 18-year-old from Britain routed American Shelby Rogers 6-2, 6-1 to join fellow teenager Leylah Fernandez in the women's last eight.
Raducanu reached the fourth round at Wimbledon and has gone a step further in the year's last Grand Slam tournament, becoming just the third female qualifier to reach the U.S. Open quarterfinals in the professional era.
Rogers, who upset No. 1 seed Ash Barty in the last round, jumped to a 2-0 lead before Raducanu won the next 11 games.
with files from Reuters