Several young stars rolled out onto the court on Tuesday, but two of the biggest were ousted in Flushing Meadows.
Gael Monfils and Peng Shuai shocked the crowd with dominant performances over both Grigor Dimitrov and Belinda Bencic, respectively. But with both contenders moving through to the next round, they will have staunch competition.
That's because the evening session includes both Roger Federer and Caroline Wozniacki. Both have lived up to their billing thus far but will have to get through seeded opponents to advance past Day 9 at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
With convincing wins for Monfils and Peng, each player made a huge statement on the court. Before the night slate gets underway, here's a look at the early results and highlights from Tuesday's action.
|2014 U.S. Open Day 9 Early Results|
|No. 20 Gael Monfils def. No. 7 Grigor Dimitrov||7-5, 7-6(8), 7-5|
|No. 14 Marin Cilic def. No. 26 Gilles Simon||5-7, 7-6(7), 6-4, 3-6, 6-3|
|Peng Shuai def. Belinda Bencic||6-2, 6-1|
Peng Reaches First Career Major Semifinal
It was a matchup of two surprising players in the quarters, but Peng came away as the brighter star.
The Chinese player got off to a quick start against Bencic and never slowed down. Allowing just three games won by the 17-year-old player, Peng breezed her way through to her first semifinals in a Grand Slam.
Unseeded heading into the tournament, Peng is now making history, as ESPN Tennis notes:
Peng Shuai becomes only the 2nd Chinese player to reach the semifinals at the @usopen with a 62 61 win over Bencic. http://t.co/hx8ug9Hfcv9/2/2014, 6:02:23 PM
On the day, Peng finished with five aces and four break points won out of five opportunities. She also had just seven unforced errors in a nearly flawless performance against Bencic.
Peng was emotional following the win but still mustered up comments about how happy she was with her success. The 28-year-old spoke about her victory, per Lynn Zinser of The New York Times:
"It’s an amazing time for me," Peng said. "It’s a long time to play, a long time in my career. So many times I thought to give up, to stop playing. But my coach and my parents tell me to keep fighting, to keep playing and never give up, that this day would come."
US Open Tennis @usopen
#Peng commits only two unforced errors and takes first set 6-2. #usopen @MBUSA http://t.co/gmK3w5iRYs9/2/2014, 5:35:27 PM
What comes next for Peng might be the biggest challenge of the tournament. In the semifinals, she will meet either Wozniacki or Sara Errani, both coming in playing outstanding tennis before the Tuesday night match.
But after knocking off three seeded players prior to her match against Bencic, nothing looks too daunting for Peng right now.
Monfils Too Much for Dimitrov in Fourth Round
Looking for his third major quarterfinals appearance of the season, Dimitrov needed to simply get past Monfils, a lower-seeded player. That plan didn't come to fruition on Tuesday as Monfils routed the young player.
The No. 20 seed in the tournament has failed to drop a set thus far and repeated his success against Dimitrov. In extreme weather conditions that tested both players, Monfils found the ability to save energy and still down the athletic Dimitrov in the process.
His emotional reaction was shared by the U.S. Open Tennis Twitter account:
US Open Tennis @usopen
This is what it feels like to get your first win on Arthur #Ashe. @Gael_Monfils #usopen http://t.co/kFKd42w2FW9/2/2014, 9:19:01 PM
Ultimately, it was the three break points won by Monfils to just one from Dimitrov that helped him advance. In a tight match that led to Monfils having to win at least seven games in each set, his experience was a clear advantage in the grueling environment.
While the straight-sets win was a convincing one, it was far from easy for the French player. Despite having the first set already won, Monfils completely submitted on a few games during the second set.
ESPN Tennis passed along a highlight of the strange occurrence for Monfils:
You never know what Monfils is gonna do next...including giving up on a point completely. #ESPNTennis - http://t.co/GITfg6fqNi9/2/2014, 8:27:33 PM
After the up-and-down win, Monfils will test his win streak against another difficult opponent.
Federer and No. 17 Roberto Bautista Agut face off on Tuesday night for the right to meet Monfils in the next round. Even with Monfils playing brilliantly throughout the tournament, he can't afford to make mistakes if he meets Federer.
The Swiss player holds a 7-2 advantage over Monfils in their head-to-head history, but the two have split their most recent hard-court matches over the last two years. As for Bautista Agut, Monfils defeated the Spaniard recently in Cincinnati during their lone match.
Regardless of the result in the next round, Monfils has made a huge impact on the final major already. And with a chance to do so again later this week, expect an exciting and unpredictable match from him on the big stage.
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