Once upon a time – really, just 10 or 20 years ago – the women’s draw would proceed orderly and cleanly while the men’s would devolve into chaos, with unknowns and long shots squaring off in the second week while the elite women lined up highly anticipated showdowns.
Day 6 reinforced just how much that has changed. No. 3 Petra Kvitova was the latest high seed to exit the 2014 US Open, falling to the unheralded 21-year-old Serb Aleksandra Krunic, and then No. 15 Carla Suarez Navarro followed her out the door by losing to Kaia Kanepi. The end result is that only three of the top eight women's seeds remain and the round of 16 features five unseeded players, the most since 2009, when wild card Kim Clijsters won the title.
The calm amid the chaos is Serena Williams, who dispatched her third consecutive American Saturday, defeating a valiant Varvara Lepchenko in two tightly contested sets. Also advancing, through with far more ardor, was No. 7 Eugenie Bouchard. The young Canadian struggled to get past Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, 6-2, 6-7, 6-4 – the exact same score as her second-round victory over Sorana Cirstea.
The men, meantime, continued to roll on. Novak Djokovic looked like his old Open self in dismissing Sam Querrey in straight sets, Andy Murray overcame a third-set hiccup to move on, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga continued his blistering summer and Milos Raonic went breaker-breaker-breaker to oust 34-year-old Victor Estrella Burgos. And with that, all Top 10 seeds on the men’s side have survived the opening six days.
Here’s a recap of the day that was and a look ahead to Day 7 of the 2014 US Open:
Match of the Day: John Isner was never broken, served the second-most aces in a match in recorded US Open history – and lost in four sets. So it went in a heart-stopping tilt that ended in a disconcertingly familiar finish for the last American standing in the men’s draw. Isner lost to the wily veteran with the beatific single-wing backhand, Philipp Kohlschreiber, 7-6, 4-6, 7-6, 7-6 – the third time in three years Kohlschreiber has defeated Isner in the third round of the US Open. All this despite 42 aces from the former University of Georgia star, which trails only the 49 served by Richard Krajicek against Yevgeny Kafelnikov back in the 1999 Open quarterfinals. Like Isner, Krajicek fell.
Player of the Day: The state of Novak Djokovic’s state was one of the big questions coming into this year’s US Open. He got married, and there is a baby on the way. He followed up his triumph at Wimbledon with a desultory stretch of mid-summer tennis on the hard courts which he usually dominates, with a lopsided loss to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at the Rogers Cup in Toronto and a rare defeat at the racquet of Tommy Robredo at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati. So did he have the right mindset to compete for a second US Open title and a fifth consecutive final? Apparently – and emphatically – he does. The world No. 1 wrapped up a dominant first week with an indomitable performance against Sam Querrey, easing into the fourth round with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 victory that wasn’t as close as the score indicates – and it was his closest contest thus far. Djokovic has now won all nine sets he’s played, dropping just 20 games. Indeed, the road to the US Open trophy still runs through the event’s No. 1 seed.
Upset of the Day: Apparently, if you’re a top women’s seed at the 2014 US Open, it’s best to avoid playing qualifiers. For the second consecutive day, a qualifier eliminated one of the world’s best, with Serbia’s Aleksandra Krunic knocking off No. 3 seed and defending Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, 6-4, 6-4. (She followed the lead of Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, who defeated No. 2 Simona Halep on Friday.) The 21-year-old Krunic, who entered the US Open ranked No. 145, had played in only one previous Grand Slam event, the 2013 US Open, where she lost in the first round. She has now won six matches here – three in qualifying, three in the main draw – including an upset of No. 27 seed Madison Keys in the second round before Saturday's watershed victory. For Kvitova, the loss delivers another abrupt end to another disappointing US Open. The Czech has never made it past the fourth round in seven appearances here, crashing out in Round 3 each of the last two.
Quote of the Day: “It was an honor for me to be in the same court with Petra. Of course, I didn’t expect to win. I was hoping [to] at least to win a set, but I managed to win a match somehow.” – Aleksandra Krunic, world No. 145, after upsetting No. 3 seed Petra Kvitova to advance to the fourth round
Looking Ahead: The decimated women’s draw leaves only one projected fourth-round matchup untouched: No. 5 Maria Sharapova versus No. 10 Caroline Wozniacki. Those two will face off on Sunday, with the winner claiming the mantle as the favorite in the bottom half of the draw. And in perhaps the most intriguing women’s encounter, a rejuvenated Jelena Jankovic will face a player 12 years her junior in 17-year-old rising star Belinda Bencic, who will get her first experience under the lights in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The men, meantime, will fill out their round of 16 with Roger Federer taking on Marcel Granollers and the flashy Frenchmen Gael Monfils and Richard Gasquet facing off in what is sure to be one of the most entertaining affairs of the fortnight. Also in action are Top 10 seeds David Ferrer, Tomas Berdych and Grigor Dimitrov, all of whom will be looking to keep their Grand Slam dreams alive heading into Week 2.