Following a mostly chalk start to the 2014 U.S. Open through the first two days, Wednesday saw one of the biggest upsets of the first week. With No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska now bowing out of the Grand Slam, the women's draw is left wide open.
Shuai Peng pulled off one of the biggest victories of her career, but the loss of Radwanska wasn't the only surprising departure of the day. In Arthur Ashe Stadium, Sloane Stephens was ousted by Johanna Larsson in the second-round match.
On the men's side, Feliciano Lopez was nearly taken out as well before Ivan Dodig was forced to retire. Along with Dodig, Marcos Baghdatis also retired on Day 3 of the U.S. Open as his seeded opponent, Marin Cilic, advanced.
As the action on the court continues, here's a look at the early results, highlights and scores from Flushing Meadows.
|No. 6 Tomas Berdych def. Lleyton Hewitt||6-3, 6-4, 6-3|
|No. 14 Marin Cilic def. Marcos Baghdatis||6-3, 3-1 (ret.)|
|No. 19 Feliciano Lopez def. Ivan Dodig||1-6, 7-5, 2-6, 6-1, 1-1 (ret.)|
|No. 18 Kevin Anderson def. Pablo Cuevas||6-3, 6-7(7), 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(7)|
|Teymuraz Gabashvili def. No. 27 Santiago Giraldo||6-3, 1-6, 7-6(8), 6-3|
|Johanna Larsson def. No. 21 Sloane Stephens||5-7, 6-4, 6-2|
|Shuai Peng def. No. 14 Agnieszka Radwanska||6-3, 6-4|
|No. 2 Simona Halep def. Jana Cepelova||6-2, 6-1|
|No. 9 Jelena Jankovic def. Tsvetana Pironkova||7-5, 6-4|
|No. 22 Alize Cornet def. Daniela Hantuchova||6-3, 6-3|
Peng Pulls Tremendous Upset Over Radwanska
The No. 4 seed coming into the tournament, Radwanska had aspirations of making a long run and eventually facing Simona Halep in the semifinals. Unfortunately, those hopes were dashed against Peng on Wednesday.
Radwanska couldn’t handle it—or, more precisely, couldn’t handle Peng. Battalions of balls were sent toward (and away from) Radwanska, who could never dispel Peng for an extended stretch of time. It didn’t help that Radwanska’s serve was attacked as well. On Peng’s break chance at 30-40—earned by opening up the court for a down-the-line backhand blast—she punished Radwanska’s serve with a backhand swipe. The shot wasn’t returned, and Peng led by a set and a break.
Radwanska may be heading home, but Peng is left with a slightly favorable draw. After upsetting the highest seed in the tournament thus far, she gets the less strenuous matchups intended for her opponent.
Peng will face No. 28 Roberta Vinci followed by a potential matchup with No. 22 Alize Cornet. If she can advance in both matches, she could face No. 6 Angelique Kerber in the quarterfinals, which would mark the farthest she's made it in a Grand Slam in her career.
Dodig, Baghdatis Forced to Bow Out
Though the big guns didn't come out in the early going for the men's draw, two players retired late into matches.
In fact, Dodig pushed his match against Lopez to a fifth set before departing from the court. The withdrawal was just another in a long string of disappointing finishes in majors for the Croatian player.
Ben Rothenberg of The New York Times points out the recent results for Dodig in Grand Slams:
Rough 2014 for Ivan Dodig at Slams: Australian - R2 retirement French - R1 retirement Wimbledon - withdrew #USOpen - R1 retirement.— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) August 27, 2014
Though he wasn't able to finish the tight match in the fifth set, Dodig earned plenty of style points in the process. Shane Bacon of Yahoo shares a brilliant play from the Day 3 match:
Stupid good tweener winner from Ivan Dodig. https://t.co/jj8ECdDISd— Shane Bacon (@shanebacon) August 27, 2014
Baghdatis, on the other hand, was unable to make it past the second set before departing. Registering a total of four games won against Cilic, he was playing competitively before the loss.
Cilic had two break points won in the first set but had not put away Baghdatis in the match. With Illya Marchenko coming up in the second round, Cilic still has a fairly easy draw before potentially facing No. 18 Kevin Anderson in the third round.
Disappointing Finish for Stephens on Big Stage
Coming in as the No. 21 seed, Stephens was far from a favorite to win. But the American generates excitement for fans. Unfortunately, that was taken away on Wednesday with her second-round loss.
Larsson forced Stephens into a tight match throughout the day, pulling away in the second and third sets. The Swedish player lost the opening set by a narrow margin but won convincingly after the loss.
The 26-year-old spoke about her victory following the match, via Rachel Cohen of The Associated Press:
Which female pulling an upset on Day 3 will advance the furthest?
"I just was trying to really tell myself to go for it," she said. "You won't win matches by holding back. Also, a lucky shot every here and there."
Stephens finished the match with 63 unforced errors to just 30 from Larsson. Of those errors, 22 came in the final set as Larsson secured a dominant 6-2 win to advance.
For Larsson to continue in the U.S. Open, she will likely need to defeat two consecutive top-10 opponents. No. 9 Jelena Jankovic awaits the young player, with Kerber potentially on tap in the fourth round.
If Larsson can continue her run, she could match up with Peng in the quarters. As both women emerge as interesting storylines on Day 3 of the tournament, their journey might see them collide in an interesting battle on the major stage.
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