On Monday, all talk about the fourth round men’s and women’s matches, was lost in the stifling New- York heat, which took precedence over everything else. Serena Williams had already completed her match against Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi in relatively cooler conditions but by the time Djokovic finished his match against Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber, courts of the Louis Armstrong Stadium had begun to sizzle like a hot plates. While players had no choice, the jam-packed crowd endured soaring temperatures, which surpassed 800 F as the day progressed. Unlike the Arthur Ashe stadium, Armstrong could not offer the same degree of comfort and covered shelter to the spectators. Eugenie Bouchard, who lost her match to Ekaterina Makarova of Russia, had to be extensively treated with ice-packs and cold towels during her match and her second set performance appeared affected by the murderous heat. Another item that highlighted the 8th day’s play, was the long fourth-round five-set marathon between Japan’s Kei Nishikori and the Canadian Milos Raonic, that ended at 2:26AM Tuesday. Counting this match, only five matches in US Open history have gone beyond 2 AM. By a strange coincident three of those matches, including the one between Nishikori and Raonic ended at the same exact time.
Early on Monday, the No.1 seed and now the tournament’s lone American, Serena Williams defeated world No.50 from Estonia Kaia Kanepi 6-3, 6-3 in 64 minutes and entered her 12th quarterfinal in New York. Serena also stayed on course for her third consecutive US Open victory and sixth overall. If she is able to pull it off, she will tie with Chris Evert for most US open titles in the Open era. Men’s top seed Novak Djokovic also entered the quarterfinals of the US open by defeating No.22 seed Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany, 6-1, 7-5, 6-4. Fortunately, Djokovic escaped the full impact of New-York’s mind-boggling heat. After easily winning the first set, Djokovic had a bit of a scare in the second, when Kohlschreiber led 5-4 with Djokovic serving. The German rattled Djokovic’s nerves, when he held a set point but the world No.1 Serbian composed himself and leveled the score 5-5. Having found his rhythm, Djokovic broke the German, held his serve in the next game and began dominating once again. The third was a regulation set with just one break of serve as Djokovic cruised into the quarterfinal to set up a clash with Andy Murray.
No.8 seed Murray cut short the advance of Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the tournament by beating him 7-5, 7-5, 6-4 in another fourth round match. For 2 hours 25 minutes, Murray worked hard to wear down Tsonga in the late-afternoon heat at the Arthur Ashe stadium. Murray was a bit subdued in the first two hard-fought sets, but he produced the shots required at crucial times. It was relatively easier for Murray in the third set as he wrapped up the match at that. The Scotsman will have to work even harder against Djokovic on Wednesday to make it to the last four at US open.
In a match that saw frayed tempers, No.3 seed Stan Wawrinka took four sets to beat Spaniard Tommy Robredo 7-5, 4-6, 7-6, 6-2. Both players exchanged heated words across the net in the fourth set, when Robredo blamed Wawrinka for etiquette violation. Wawrinka didn’t like the comments and argued tersely. The match finally ended with Wawrinka dominating the fourth set to reach his third grand slam quarterfinal of the year.
The worst affected player from New York heat was women’s No. 7 seed Eugenie Bouchard of Canada. She matched her opponent, Ekaterina Makarova of Russia in the first set before losing it on the tie-break. But at 2-3 down in the second set, she couldn’t carry on and required extensive medical attention. They covered her with cold towels and applied ice packs along her thighs to lower her body temperature. But Bouchard still appeared weak as she took to court after a six-minute delay. Although she broke Makarova to level 4-4, the Russian broke right back and held her serve to finish the match. After the match, Bouchard complained not only about the heat but the bleary vision from playing several long and late matches during the first week. The Canadian’s impressive streak in 2014 was cut short after she reached the semifinals at the Australian and French Opens and was a finalist at Wimbledon.
The last match of Monday was the biggest contest of the day. In a seemingly unending duel, Japan’s No.10 seed Kei Nishikori beat No.5 seed Milos Raonic of Canada, 4-6, 7-6, 6-7, 7-5, 6-4 in 4 hours and 19 minutes. Ending at 2.26AM, the match tied the record for the latest finish in US open history. When Nishikori took the match to the fifth set it was already 1.45 AM on Tuesday morning. But once Nishikori produced a break, it was clear that the Japanese was on his way because Raonic had been unable to break Nishikori since the second set. Thereafter, the set went on serves and Nishikori emerged the winner.
In two other impressive matches on Monday, Italian Flavia Pennetta defeated Australia’s Casey Dellacqua 7-5, 6-2 and the rejuvenated Belarusian Victoria Azarenka beat Serbian Aleksandra Krunic, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.