US Open’s day 8 belonged to Serena Williams, who made tennis history by winning her 308th match in Grand Slam tournaments. The living legend of modern tennis was helped by the absence of Swiss maestro Roger Federer, who is staying away from active tennis in the current year due to injury. There was little doubt that Kazakhstan’s Yaroslava Shvedova could prevent Serena from reaching the milestone of 308 match wins in Grand Slams. The American has played powerful tennis all week and if she keeps the level of her game on the same keel, she could win her 23rd Grand Slam as well at New York. Besides Serena’s remarkable performance, day 8 also saw world no.2 Andy Murray reaching the men’s singles quarterfinals. Joining the Brit in the round-of-eight are Argentina’s born-again star Juan Martin del Potro, Japan’s Kei Nishikori and Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka. The biggest upset on Monday was caused by Croatia’s 18-year old Ana Konjuh, who took out women’s 4th seed Agnieszka Radwanska in straight sets.
It had to happen; if not on Monday, sometime pretty soon. Serena Williams’ only contender for maximum number of Grand Slam match victories in singles tournament was Roger Federer and the Swiss has stopped playing for now. With Federer unable to add any more match-wins until the 2017 Australian Open, the field lay open to Serena. Both Serena and Federer have a lot in common. They are both 35 years old and began playing in ATP and WTA circuit around the same time. They held the supreme no.1 status in the world for a number of years. They were seen as players, whom others held in awe. Federer might have slipped in world ranking but he is still a big force in men’s circuit. Serena is the current world no.1 and she is steadily moving towards a consecutive 186 weeks’ no.1 world record of Steffi Graf. On Monday, she went past Federer’s 307 match-wins in Grand Slams by defeating Kazakhstan’s Yaroslava Shvedova 6-2, 6-3 in the fourth round. In her current form, Serena should move further up in the tournament. Her next match is the quarterfinal clash with Romanian fifth-seed Simona Halep on Wednesday. Serena cannot find a better venue than the US Open for her 23rd Grand Slam victory. That will also ensure her stay at the summit in women’s singles field.
On Monday, Andy Murray also reached the quarterfinals by defeating Bulgaria’s no.22 seed Grigor Dimitrov 6-1, 6-2, 6-2. For a place in the semifinal, the Scot will have to get past Japan’s no.6 seeded Kei Nishikori, who stymied the challenge of Croatian big-server and no.21 seed Ivo Karlovic in a 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 victory. Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka also entered the quarterfinals with a hard-fought 6-4, 6-1, 6-7, 6-3 win over Ukraine’s Illya Marchenko. The Swiss next plays Rio silver medalist and 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina. Wawrinka cannot forget that del Potro had beaten him at Wimbledon this year. The Argentine reached the quarterfinal, playing against Austria’s no.8 seeded Dominic Thiem, who retired in the second set with del Potro leading 6-3, 3-2.
Croatian teenager Ana Konjuh caused the biggest upset of the day, when she defeated no.5 seeded Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland 6-4, 6-4. The 18-year old 92nd ranked Konjuh was a junior champion at Flushing Meadows in 2013. Against the big player, the Croat maintained her poise and forced Radwanska into making several errors. For a place in the semifinal, Konjuh will meet no.10 seeded Czech Karolina Pliskova, who eliminated sixth-seeded Venus Williams in three closely fought sets 4-6, 6-4, 7-6. In another women’s fourth round match, Romanian 5th seed Simona Halep defeated Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro 6-2, 7-5 to set up a quarterfinal clash with world no.1 Serena Williams.
From Wednesday onwards, it will be a French show at the Flushing Meadows. In top half of the men’s singles draw, there are three Frenchman and each one of them is eager to beat the top seed and defending champion Novak Djokovic. The first is Djokovic’s quarterfinal opponent Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. If the Frenchman falls, Djokovic will have another one in the semifinal because then, the Serb comes face-to-face either with Nadal’s conqueror Lucas Pouille (pronounced as Pwee) or Gael Monfils. The two Frenchmen will fight against each other for a place in the semifinals. However, despite the French having the numbers’ strength, Djokovic is not an easy meat. He has been passing through injury concerns and lack of match play at the Flushing Meadow but he is capable of shattering the French dream on his way to the final.
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