Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Aga falls to teenager Konjuh

The remaining US Open quarter finalists in mens and women's singles were decided on Day Eight, and the upset of the day came at night with Aga Radwanska falling to the unseeded 18 year old Ana Konjuh from Croatia.  Ana had managed to roll through the draw without meeting any highly ranked players after a good win in the first round against 20th seed Kiki Bertens.

So no one expected the 92nd ranked player to knock over Aga in straight sets.  The fourth seed had never passed the fourth round at Flushing Meadows and this year seemed set to rid herself of that hurdle.  Not to be unfortunately, as she was witness to 38 winners flowing from the  Konjuh racquet on the way to a 6-4 6-4 Croatian triumph.

Venus Williams will not be in the quarter finals, despite a whirlwind start which put Karolina Pliskova under immense pressure.  At 5-1 and serving for the opening set, the 36 year old suffered the wobbles.  Pliskova broke twice, capitalising on a fragile second serve from Williams, and could have levelled at 5-5.  

However another momentum shift saw VW break, take the set 6-4, then achieve an early advantage in set two.  Pliskova turned it around, delivering some of the best tennis of the match to level at a set all, before advancing to the final eight with success in the third set tie breaker and in the match 4-6 6-4 7-6.
Konjuh will be Pliskova's quarter final opponent.

Simona Halep did what no other player has been able to do this past week or so - take a set off Carla Suarez Navarro.  The fifth seed was quickly out of the blocks, and maintained the form, creating several break points and converting three.  The quality of tennis was high, but the key points were won by Simona who was a set up, 6-2 in 46 minutes.
Set two was more challenging for the Romanian, but despite the best efforts of Suarez Navarro, Halep won through 6-2 7-5.  

The standard of Halep's tennis was impressive, and will need to be at least that good again as her victory set up a quarter final meeting with Serena Williams - the great one swept aside Yaroslava Shvedova as easily as she wanted it to be.  Or it appeared that way.  28 winners and not facing a break point, Serena looked assured from the outset. She now has won more matches at Grand Slam level than any other player, passing the great Roger Federer.

Grigor Dimitrov has under achieved during his career, but this year in NYC had done well to make the round of sixteen, perhaps starting to deliver on his potential again.  But no, only teasing us some more -  his match against Andy Murray promised more than the debacle delivered to a short changed crowd.  Five games was all that the Bulgarian could claim as his own after the three set disaster, and we really can't take much from what was effectively hitting practice for the second seed.

Murray will hit more tennis balls in the quarter final when he faces sixth seed Kei Nishikori.  Japan's big hope cut down giant Croatian Ivo Karlovic to size, the first two sets in his keeping, capturing a single service break in each.  Nishikori hit 26 winners across those two sets with only 3 unforced errors, sensational figures.

The third set was more difficult to traverse, with no service break achieved by either player, but Nishikori deservedly won the tie breaker and the match 6-3 6-4 7-6.  
Kei's 44 winners and 7 unforced errors is a statistical indication of the increased difficulty Murray will face next up.

Juan Martin del Potro was leading 8th seed Dominic Thiem 6-3 3-2 before a knee injury disappointingly forced the Austrian to retire.  Del Potro benefits with a quarter final berth, and despite the less than ideal method of advancing, his form throughout the tournament suggests that he was just as likely to win the match should it have gone the distance.

Next test for Juan Martin will be Stan Wawrinka - the third seed had too much class for Illya Marchenko, and although dropping the third set, Wawrinka at no stage appeared threatened.  Hard to predict a winner from this star laden quarter final but either poses a genuine threat to the winner of Murray v Nishikori.

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