Sunday's action at the 2014 U.S. Open had a little bit of everything: upsets, great back-and-forth matches and a little intrigue courtesy of Mother Nature.
As noted by the tournament's Twitter account, play was halted during the late afternoon and early evening after thunderstorms hit Flushing, New York:
PLAY UPDATE: Due to the weather conditions that could include lightning all matches are temporarily suspended. We will keep you updated.— US Open Tennis (@usopen) August 31, 2014
UPDATE: The forecast calls for continued rain into early evening. Day session #13 has concluded. Ashe will open at 6:30pm for night session.— US Open Tennis (@usopen) August 31, 2014
Although that changed some fans' Sunday plans, the delay didn't throw things off too much for the competitors. In fact, some of the players used the delay to their advantage, hitting the reset button before hitting the court again.
Sunday was certainly a lively way to end the first week of the 2014 U.S. Open.
|Men's Draw: Third Round|
|No. 26 Gilles Simon def. No. 4 David Ferrer||6-3, 3-6, 6-1, 6-3|
|No. 14 Marin Cilic def. No. 18 Kevin Anderson||6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4|
|No. 2 Roger Federer def. Marcel Granollers||4-6, 6-1, 6-1, 6-1|
|No. 6 Tomas Berdych def. Teymuraz Gabashvili||6-3, 6-2, 6-4|
|No. 20 Gael Monfils def. No. 12 Richard Gasquet||6-4, 6-2, 6-2|
|Dominic Thiem def. No. 19 Feliciano Lopez||6-4, 6-2, 6-3|
|No. 7 Grigor Dimitrov def. David Goffin||0-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-1|
|No. 17 Roberto Bautista Agut def. Adrian Mannarino||7-5, 6-2, 6-3|
|Women's Draw: Fourth Round|
|No. 10 Caroline Wozniacki def. No. 5 Maria Sharapova||6-4, 2-6, 6-2|
|No. 13 Sara Errani def. Mirjana Lucic-Baroni||6-3, 2-6, 6-0|
|Belinda Bencic def. No. 9 Jelena Jankovic||7-6(6), 6-3|
|Shuai Peng def. No. 14 Lucie Safarova||6-3, 6-4|
Caroline Wozniacki Looks Like Champion Material Again
Coincidentally, it was at the U.S. Open that Caroline Wozniacki first burst onto the scene. Heading into the 2009 edition, the furthest she'd gone in a Grand Slam was the fourth round. That year, she made it to the final, losing to Kim Clijsters.
After she made a few semifinals and quarterfinals, Wozniacki looked like the newest star in women's tennis. Instead, her recent Grand Slam results are littered with early exits and unfulfilled promise.
With a three-set win over Maria Sharapova, the 24-year-old Dane advanced to her first Grand Slam quarterfinal in a little over two years, thus almost immediately erasing all the doubts about her game.
Second serves helped to decide the match. According to the tournament's official website, Sharapova won a paltry nine of her 26 second-service points, compared to 19 of 35 for Wozniacki. The five-time Grand Slam champion also committed 43 unforced errors.
Sharapova was introspective after the loss and joked that if she could've stayed on a court a little longer, then a rain delay could've offered her a reprieve:
Flood alerts from reporters’ phones ring out during Sharapova press conference. “Darn it. If I was only there a little longer (laughter).."— SI Tennis (@SI_Tennis) August 31, 2014
Wozniacki reveled in her victory on Twitter:
If she gets that far, Wozniacki is one of the few players left in the draw who could have a legitimate chance to upset Serena Williams when Serena isn’t beating herself. Wozniacki pushed Williams to three sets in each of their two hard-court matches this summer and both times came within a few points of swinging momentum in the third set. To even suggest that Wozniacki could hang with Williams in a Grand Slam final would have been unimaginable as recently as five months ago.
Chase added that the confidence that Wozniacki appeared to be lacking in recent tournaments is back in abundance.
With the majority of the top-10 seeds already gone, Wozniacki has a great chance to make her second U.S. Open final—and she wouldn't have to meet Williams until then. Although the Dane has won once in nine meetings with Williams, anything can happen in one match.
Simon Says Upset
Gilles Simon matched his best showing ever at the U.S. Open with his third-round win over No. 4 David Ferrer on Sunday. The 29-year-old Frenchman advances to the fourth round for the second time in his career, with the first coming in 2011.
After the match, Simon admitted that the pressure near the end was unlike anything he'd felt in years, per Christopher Clarey of The New York Times:
"I never sweat like this in the last 10 years" -- Gilles Simon on his victory vs Ferrer on a muggy day at the #USOpen— Christopher Clarey (@christophclarey) August 31, 2014
Tennis writer Steve Tignor was simply impressed that Simon found a way to survive longer than Ferrer:
There's winning the U.S. Open, and there's outlasting David Ferrer. Think the latter might be tougher. Kudos to Gilles Simon.— Steve Tignor (@SteveTignor) August 31, 2014
This was an upset few will have seen coming. Ferrer had won five of their first six meetings, according to Matchstat. Simon's last victory in this matchup came a little over three years ago.
Clarey highlighted second serves as one of the key factors in the match:
Key statistic in Gilles Simon's 4-set upset of David Ferrer, a great returner Simon wins 56 % of own 2d serve pts Ferrer wins 36 %— Christopher Clarey (@christophclarey) August 31, 2014
Simon didn't play great tennis, but he did play mostly mistake-free tennis and didn't give Ferrer any opportunity get back into the match. That's much harder to accomplish than it sounds.
Simon meets Marin Cilic in the next round. The former actually has a decided advantage in their head-to-head history, with Matchstat indicating that Simon has won all four of their matches against one another.
Roger Federer Does Federer-like Things
Don't make Roger Federer angry—you wouldn't like him when he's angry.
The 17-time Grand Slam champion seemed to take offense to Marcel Granollers taking the first set of their match on Sunday, and he took his frustration out in the proceeding three sets, winning each one by a score of 6-1.
This was one of the matches interrupted by the rain, and Ben Rothenberg of The New York Times noted there was a stark contrast between how it unfolded before and after the rain delay:
Marcel Granollers won 5 of 7 games before rain delay, only 3 of 20 after rain delay. Federer rolling. #usopen— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) September 1, 2014
The victory is Federer's 70th at the U.S. Open, making him the fifth men's star to reach the mark:
Roger Federer: 70th career win at US Open, becomes 5th man to win 70 matches at US Open in Open Era (Connors, Agassi, Lendl, Sampras)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 1, 2014
Although the 33-year-old did have a rough first set, he recovered superbly after the rain delay. Not every player can handle a stoppage mid-match like that, let alone come out with guns blazing to shellack the opposition.
Enough has already been said about how well Federer is playing at the moment. Nothing so far leads you to believe that he won't book his place in the final.