Inclement weather once again wreaked havoc on play at the 2013 U.S. Open, as the schedule of play had to be drastically shuffled Monday to accommodate a lengthy rainstorm.
Second-seeded Victoria Azarenka saw her fourth-round match against 13th-seeded Ana Ivanovic pushed to Tuesday, with multiple other matches seeing delays and shuffling of court locations. The storm, which was predicted in the weather report, saw the day's schedule get pushed back by four-and-a-half hours.
Once the storm lifted from Flushing Meadows, however, the black clouds seemingly stuck around long enough to hang above Roger Federer's head.
The seventh-seeded Swiss star suffered his fourth early ouster of the 2013 Grand Slam season, losing in straight sets to No. 19 seed Tommy Robredo. This is the first time since 2002 that Federer has gone an entire campaign without reaching a Grand Slam final.
For the other top players in the field, Monday was merely about avoiding sharing a Federer-like fate.
Rafael Nadal battled back from an opening-set loss to No. 22 seed Philipp Kohlschreiber to advance to the quarterfinals, and fourth-seeded David Ferrer slogged through a four-set war versus Janko Tipsarevic.
The women's side was noticeably light on top-ranked players. Tenth-seeded Roberta Vinci was the highest-ranked player in action Monday afternoon. She defeated fellow Italian Camila Giorgi in straight sets to advance to her second consecutive U.S. Open quarterfinals.
Countrywoman Flavia Pennetta's surprising run through the event also continued, as she defeated her third straight seeded player in Simona Halep to advance.
With play finally concluded for the night, let's check in on the day's most notable results.
Federer Faults His Way to Failure
The last year Roger Federer didn't make a Grand Slam final, the year-end Billboard Hot 100 had Nickelback's "How You Remind Me" atop the charts. It was a simpler time. Just one year after the iPod was created.
Now? Folks couldn't wait to rush to their iPhones and speculate about the demise of arguably the best men's tennis player in history. Federer, who as the seventh seed carried his lowest ranking in over a decade, looked borderline lost during his 7-6 (3), 6-3, 6-4 loss to Tommy Robredo.
The Spaniard had come in having lost 10 consecutive matches against the all-time great. But by the end of the match, there was only one person who looked like he was vying for his first U.S. Open quarterfinals appearance—and it sure wasn't Robredo.
Looking back at the match, it's impossible for Federer to blame anyone but himself. The 32-year-old Swiss committed a whopping 43 unforced errors and finished 2-of-16 on break-point chances. He spent the entire match gasping for air, trying to atone for mistakes that were jarringly unbecoming for one of the sport's best precision players.
While a majority of his stats fell in line with the first three rounds—Federer's first-serve percentage was again fantastic—the critical mistakes were just too much to overcome. After the match, Federer acknowledged something that many all-time greats wouldn't—that he self-combusted.
The easy, presumptive question to ask here is whether it's over for Federer. Not necessarily his career, of course, but for him as a player we need to pay any mind to heading into a Grand Slam tournament.
That seems like we're standing at the pulpit of overreaction theatre, but it's sadly a fair question at this point. Federer has one Grand Slam title in the past three years. He's only won one tournament on tour this year, and has seen his ranking fall from No. 1 toward the end of last season all the way to No. 7 due to his inability to get deep into important events.
Father Time waits for no one. Not even Roger Federer. Retirement is very likely out of the question, but what about irrelevancy? We'll likely find out very early next season whether 2013 was an anomaly or a sign of further decline.
Richard Gasquet and Milos Raonic Give Fans a Five-Set Thriller
On a night where three of the men's tennis world's most notable faces were in action, it's only right that the match not involving any player in that triad stole the show.
In a match that had to feel like pulling teeth for both men the entire night, eighth-seeded Richard Gasquet defeated 10th-seeded Milos Raonic 6-7 (4), 7-6 (4), 2-6, 7-6 (9), 7-5 to advance to the quarterfinals.
The match lasted four hours and 40 minutes, marking one of the longest matches in recent U.S. Open history. Three of the five sets went into tiebreakers, including the captivating fourth set, where Gasquet needed 20 set points to keep his tournament alive.
From the very outset of the match, the desperation was palpable with both men. Raonic, the 22-year-old up-and-comer, has never made the quarterfinals in a Grand Slam. Gasquet made the quarters at Wimbledon in 2007, but that was it. He's had 16 other chances to make the quarters, and failed in each one.
Suffice it to say the match had a competitive zeal.
Raonic, a hard-hitting Canadian with arguably the best serve on tour, was at the top of his service game against Gasquet. He got out to a 2-1 sets lead with a succession of beautifully struck balls that went past the Frenchman en route to recording 39 aces—the third most in U.S. Open history.
Where Raonic lost the match is being unable to harness his power game with any semblance of control. He hit a whopping 80 unforced errors compared to Gasquet's 36, including a match point in that critical fourth set.
Gasquet subsequently fought back to win the tiebreak and extend the match, with Raonic being visibly gassed in the fifth set. The 27-year-old Gasquet will move on to face David Ferrer, who won in four sets earlier in the day. He holds a 1-8 record against the Spaniard.
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