Tennis' best players are beginning to feel the pressure of a dwindling field through six days of action at the 2014 U.S. Open. The tournament has already produced a small number of upsets, and some of the field's top-ranked athletes have been severely challenged.
On Saturday, No. 5 seed Milos Raonic won in three sets but was forced into a tiebreak in each by Victor Estrella Burgos, No. 8 Andy Murray dropped one set to Andrey Kuznetsov in his Round 3 victory, and No. 3 Petra Kvitova was surprisingly eliminated in two sets by Aleksandra Krunic.
All three of those contests were thrilling, but the day brought even more drama and intensity thereafter, including several high-profile Round 3 matches.
Both the men's and women's No. 1 seeds were in action, and America's top-ranked player from the men's side, John Isner, took the court as well. Did all three players advance to the round of 16? Here's a look at the final scores from Day 6 and a breakdown of these three marquee contests.
|No. 1 Novak Djokovic||Sam Querrey||6-3, 6-2, 6-2|
|No. 8 Andy Murray||Andrey Kuznetsov||6-1, 7-5, 4-6, 6-2|
|No. 5 Milos Raonic||Victor Estrella Burgos||7(7)-6(5), 7(7)-6(5), 7(7)-6(3)|
|No. 10 Kei Nishikori||No. 23 Leonardo Mayer||6-4, 6-2, 6-3|
|No. 9 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga||Pablo Carreno Busta||6-4, 6-4, 6-4|
|No. 22 Philipp Kohlschreiber||No. 13 John Isner||7(7)-6(4), 4-6, 7(7)-6(2), 7(7)-6(4)|
|No. 3 Stan Wawrinka||Blaz Kavcic||Walkover|
|No. 16 Tommy Robredo||Nick Kyrgios||3-6, 6-3, 7(7)-6(4), 6-3|
|No. 11 Flavia Pennetta||Nicole Gibbs||6-4, 6-0|
|Aleksandra Krunic||No. 3 Petra Kvitova||6-4, 6-4|
|No. 16 Victoria Azarenka||Elena Vesnina||6-1, 6-1|
|No. 29 Casey Dellacqua||Karolina Pliskova||6-3, 3-6, 6-4|
|No. 1 Serena Williams||Varvara Lepchenko||6-3, 6-3|
|Kaia Kanepi||No. 15 Carla Suarez Navarro||7-5, 6-0|
|No. 17 Ekaterina Makarova||Zarina Diyas||6-2, 6-4|
|No. 7 Eugenie Bouchard||Barbora Zahlavova Strycova||6-2, 6(2)-7(7), 6-4|
No. 1 Novak Djokovic def. Sam Querrey; 6-3, 6-2, 6-2
Novak Djokovic continued his domination of the 2014 U.S. Open on Saturday against Sam Querrey. The top seed held the hard-hitting American to just seven aces while winning 75 percent of his own first-serve points.
After the match, Querrey was asked about Djokovic's ability to play in the wind, via USOpen.org. He responded with praise of his competitor's game:
He's better in any condition than other players (Laughter.) Yeah, maybe a little bit. He's just so consistent. Does such a good job of stabbing my first serve in, you know, deep in the court. You know, you just kind of feel so much pressure. You're kind of overwhelmed. Down a break early in every set. You know, it was uncomfortable the whole time.
Not only did Djokovic handle Querrey's serves well, he showed a great deal of aggression, winning 14 of a possible 20 net points on the day. Querrey appeared flustered during the match, and that resulted in a devastating 33 unforced errors by the American.
According to a tweet from USA Today, the No. 1 seed appears confident moving forward:
Novak Djokovic says his game is "peaking at the right time" http://t.co/GcXwso8vhr— USA TODAY Sports (@USATODAYsports) August 31, 2014
Djokovic will have his toughest test yet in the round of 16, as he's set to face the surging Philipp Kohlschreiber. Both players are in stellar form right now, which will surely make for some compelling tennis.
No. 1 Serena Williams def. Varvara Lepchenko; 6-3, 6-3
Serena Williams is in familiar territory. She's produced near flawless tennis en route to an appearance in the round of 16. It only took the No. 1 seed two sets to dispose of Varvara Lepchenko on Saturday in a match that took just over 1.5 hours to complete.
Williams used a very accurate first serve to keep Lepchenko off balance and win 73 percent of her first-serve points. The No. 1 seed was efficient when being aggressive, winning 70 percent of her net points.
The U.S. Open's Twitter account noted the obstacles Williams overcame on Saturday:
Lepchenko was rather off-kilter on Saturday, accumulating 32 unforced errors. Williams must clean up in that category going forward, as she tallied 21.
During a press conference, via USOpen.org, Williams spoke about fighting to find her rhythm against Lepchenko:
Yeah, I definitely had to fight to find my rhythm. At the same time she was playing really well. She was going for shots, getting so many balls back. It wasn't like my shots, she just got them back and hit a better shot at times. For me, it was just about hanging in there.
Williams is set to face the surging Kaia Kanepi in the round of 16. Kanepi produced a stunning upset over No. 15 Carla Suarez Navarro on Saturday, winning 7-5, 6-0. Kanepi was efficient across the board in her Round 3 victory, and she could be a big challenge for Williams if she can keep it up.
No. 22 Philipp Kohlschreiber def. No. 13 John Isner; 7(7)-6(4), 4-6, 7(7)-6(2), 7(7)-6(4)
This may have been that match of the day; however, it produced an unfortunate ending for the host country. Top-ranked American John Isner fell to Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber in a marathon match that took more than three hours to complete.
Isner's devastating serve was well on display on Saturday, as he tallied an impressive 42 aces. However, his first serves weren't as accurate as he would have liked—only 62 percent of his attempts stayed in bounds.
That's not the only area in which the 13th seed faltered. He only won one of 12 break points and accumulated 38 unforced errors along the way. Isner spoke of his performance during a press conference, via USOpen.org:
I feel like I should have won that first set. You know, got a little tight, to be honest. Didn't move my feet on some big points that I really needed, set points, breakpoints. Same thing in the third and fourth sets, as well. I had chances. I just didn't convert. I'm not disappointed about, you know, losing those tiebreakers. Yeah, I've won a bunch of those. But that's going to happen. You know, I felt like I could have had chances to where those didn't need to be necessary, and I didn't convert.
Yahoo Sports tweeted what Isner's loss means for the United States:
As for Kohlschreiber, he overcame Isner's powerful serve by limiting his own mistakes—he accrued 28 unforced errors on Saturday—and intelligently going on the offensive, winning 33 of a possible 45 net points.
This was a fantastic battle between Kohlschreiber and Isner—although the German will be rewarded for his efforts with the daunting task of taking on Djokovic in the round of 16.