Sunday's action at Flushing Meadows, littered with jaw-dropping upsets, has set the bar high for the rest of the 2014 U.S. Open, but Monday's slate set out to clear it in emphatic fashion.
Of the names stunned the day prior, No. 4 David Ferrer, No. 5 Maria Sharapova and No. 9 Jelena Jankovic stand out the most heading into a day that sees No. 1 seeds Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic, as well as a host of other recognizable names, in action.
It is only right that the trend bleeds into Monday given the sheer unpredictability of the season to this point. Let's unroll the latest results as they filter in and recap a marquee sendoff to the day's action.
2014 U.S. Open Day 8 Completed Scores
|No. 1 Novak Djokovic vs. No. 22 Philipp Kohlschreiber||6-1, 7-5, 6-4|
|No. 11 Flavia Pennetta def. No. 29 Casey Dellacqua||7-5, 6-2|
|No. 1 Serena Williams def. Kaia Kanepi||6-3, 6-3|
Note: Scores updated as of 3 p.m. ET on Sept. 1. Up-to-date scores can be found at USOpen.org.
Day 8 Evening Schedule
|Sept. 1||7 p.m.||No. 16 Victoria Azarenka vs. Aleksandra Krunic|
|Sept. 1||9 p.m.||No. 5 Milos Raonic vs. No. 10 Kei Nishikori|
Notable Day 8 Results
No. 1 Serena Williams def. Kaia Kanepi, 6-3, 6-3
Serena Williams' momentum gained via recent victories before the event in Flushing Meadows continues to place her above the rest of the field.
Monday, she needed just 65 minutes to dispatch of unseeded Kaia Kanepi, firing off 19 winners to 16 unforced errors in the process. It helps that Kanepi was off the mark for most of her second appearance in the fourth round in New York, with less than half of her first serves actually landing in play.
As Sports Illustrated notes, the triumph means the No. 1 seed is through to a quarterfinals at a Grand Slam for the first time in what has been quite the tumultuous season:
No. 11 Flavia Pennetta is up next for the back-to-form Williams, with No. 7 Eugenie Bouchard the only other true threat in her way on the path to the final.
For a 24-hour period that has been unpredictable at best, Williams came through in predictable fashion.
No. 1 Novak Djokovic def. No. 22 Philipp Kohlschreiber, 6-1, 7-5, 6-4
Novak Djokovic was not to be deterred by the recent string of events either.
His struggles on hard court are an afterthought at this point, as the world No. 1 continued his dominant run Monday and has yet to lose a set. Philipp Kohlschreiber made a serious run in the second set, only to be emphatically shut down by the pristine backhand of Djokovic.
Djokovic, despite his recent form and the fact he actually lost to Kohlschreiber once in their last five encounters, won 78 percent of his first serves, fired 34 winners to 19 unforced errors and encountered two break points.
The 22nd quarterfinal appearance in a row at a major is perhaps the most important of all for Djokovic, who faces an extremely lopsided draw this time around. His next opponent is the winner of Andy Murray vs. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, a match that will surely be a must-see affair for all fans.
For now, though, Djokovic has a wave of momentum that appears like it will do much to counteract an unkind bracket.
No. 16 Victoria Azarenka vs. Aleksandra Krunic
Victoria Azarenka has played like anything but a lesser seed to this point in the tournament, which might just signal that she is in top form at the right time after an injury-riddled season.
After a 6-7, 6-4, 6-1 win over Misaki Doi to start things off at Flushing Meadows, the Belarusian star notched straight-set victories over Christina McHale and Elena Vesnina to take a strong semblance of momentum into Monday's evening encounter with Aleksandra Krunic.
While Azarenka took home Grand Slam win No. 100, all Krunic did was upset No. 27 Madison Keys and then take down No. 3 Petra Kvitovain dominant 6-4, 6-4 fashion.
"I have no idea about my next match - I've never played her," Azarenka said, per WTATennis.com. "I just want to enjoy this moment and get ready to play my game."
The 21-year-old qualifier is a bit of an unknown, so Craig O'Shannessy of ATP World Tour helps to shed some light on Azarenka's adversary:
So no, this is not a match to simply write off. Krunic now has the most dangerous asset of all as an unseeded player with nothing to lose against high-ranking opposition: confidence.
The bright lights and national attention are part of the evening territory, but if her previous two wins are any indication, Krunic will not succumb to the pressure. It may not be the matchup fans had envisioned, but the impending duel will still provide quality action from two red-hot stars.
No. 5 Milos Raonic vs. No. 10 Kei Nishikori
He does not have the name recognition of, say, Djokovic, but No. 5 Milos Raonic is one of the sport's most consistent players at the crisp age of 23.
Raonic has the tournament experience this season that suggests a major run is in the cards after reaching the quarterfinals of the French Open and the semifinals of Wimbledon. Straight-set victories over Taro Daniel and Victor Estrella Burgos, as well as a triumph over a batch of adversity against Peter Gojowczyk prove Raonic's consistency has not left him just yet.
Perhaps more impressive, though, is the recent form of Kei Nishikori. The Japanese star has yet to lose a set and most recently took down No. 23 seed Leonardo Mayer, 6-4, 6-2, 6-3.
It is only fitting that a match to end the day's events will need to see something give between two of the world's best. "Epic" is the right word, as noted by TennisNow:
The only real knock on either competitor at this point is the lesser seed's lack of quality performances when it matters most. This is the first year Nishikori has been through to the round of 16 since 2008, and his deepest run overall came at the Australian Open in the quarterfinals in 2012.
Raonic is not afraid to admit that he has something to clean up before the encounter, though, per ATPWorldtour.com:
"I've got to clean up a few things [against Nishikori]. I've got to put out a certain level if I want to have opportunities. And then hopefully when those opportunities do arise, I can make the most of them."
He certainly hits the nail on the head, as Nishikori is one of the sport's fastest players and best at controlling the baseline. For Nishikori, he will need to improve on the return in order to pull off the upset.
No matter who emerges the victor and continues to be in the conversation to win it all, fans will be treated to the best match of the day to finish things off—as it should be.
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