The 2016 U.S. Open has entered the home stretch with the men's and women's quarterfinals beginning on Tuesday.
Through the tournament's first week, the top two seeds on the men's and women's side remain alive. Caroline Wozniacki, who entered the U.S. Open unranked, against Anastasija Sevastova highlights the evening session for the women.
Novak Djokovic takes on Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the main event for the men on Tuesday. Before getting to those matches, here's a look at how things shook out for the early quarterfinal matchups:
|2016 U.S. Open Quarterfinal Results, Tuesday, September 6|
|No. 2 Angelique Kerber vs. No. 7 Roberta Vinci||Kerber||7-5, 6-0|
|No. 10 Gael Monfils vs. No. 24 Lucas Pouille||Monfils||6-4, 6-3, 6-3|
Angelique Kerber def. Roberta Vinci (7-5, 6-0)
One year after reaching the U.S. Open final, which included an upset over Serena Williams in the semifinals, Roberta Vinci was picked apart by Angelique Kerber in straight sets.
Kerber started sloppy in the first set, hitting 22 unforced errors, and found herself in a 5-4 hole. The No. 2 seed responded to this adversity by winning the final three games to steal the opening set that included this short rally to put her up 40-0 in the last game:
Things would completely unravel for Vinci late in the first set and never got better. She hit 13 unforced errors, zero aces, one double-fault and only five of her 20 first serves landed inbounds.
Vinci lost the first set thanks to a foot-fault on her second serve as she was trailing love-40. This was a collapse of epic proportions for the Italian, taking nothing away from Kerber's talent or resolve to weather that early storm.
Per Jose Morgado of Portugal's Record outlet, Kerber's win keeps her on the short list of women's players who have yet to drop a set at the U.S. Open:
The win marks Kerber's first appearance in the U.S. Open semifinals since 2011, which she noted in a post on Twitter after the match:
Kerber has had an outstanding 2016 season, highlighted by a victory at the Australian Open. She did stumble in the first round at the French Open but reached the finals at Wimbledon and the Olympics before being beaten by Serena Williams and Monica Puig, respectively.
A win at the U.S. Open would cap off Kerber's most successful season as a professional. There are still two big matches ahead of her to make that happen, so now is not the time for her to find any complacency.
Gael Monfils def. Lucas Pouille (6-4, 6-3, 6-3)
Gael Monfils has reached the U.S. Open semifinals for the first time in his career with a 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 victory over Lucas Pouille.
Unlike the women's semifinal won by Kerber, Monfils dominated this match from the outset and never looked back. He hit seven aces in the first set with a win percentage of 94 on his first serve.
Monfils nailed an ace on match point, his 13th of the match. Just as impressive as his approach on the offensive end was his quickness on defense to keep Pouille on his toes, as this highlight from U.S. Open Tennis shows:
Because Pouille was going against a vastly superior player, at least on raw talent, he had a small margin for error and needed to play close to perfect if he hoped to win. Instead, he wound up hitting six double-faults and 44 unforced errors to seal his fate.
The win for Monfils puts him in exclusive company, with ESPN Stats & Info noting he is the third Frenchmen in the Open Era to reach the U.S. Open semifinals. Cedric Pioline and Richard Gasquet previously accomplished the feat.
Just as important as what Monfils is doing for his home country is how he's elevating his performance. This is just the second time he's ever reached the semifinal of a Grand Slam tournament (2008 French Open).
Monfils will be rooting hard for Tsonga to pull off the upset against Djokovic, who owns a perfect 12-0 record against the French star in their head-to-head matchups.
If Monfils wants to be the best, he will likely have to beat the best. That just hasn't been a successful formula for him in the past.