Djokovic Cruises at U.S. Open as Last American Man Is Ousted
Top-seeded Novak Djokovic joined defending champions Serena Williams and Andy Murray in advancing at the U.S. Open, where the host nation is without a man in the last 16 for the first time in the tournament’s 133-year history.
Spain’s Marcel Granollers ousted the last American men’s player from the tennis season’s final Grand Slam last night, rallying to beat qualifier Tim Smyczek 6-4, 4-6, 0-6, 6-3, 7-5 at the National Tennis Center in New York.
Smyczek, who’s ranked 109th in the world and had previously never advanced beyond the second round in a major championship, was cheered on at the Grandstand Court before having his serve broken at 5-5 in the fifth set. Granollers then held to win the match and advance to a fourth-round matchup with Djokovic.
“I’ve never heard somebody yell out from the stands, ‘You’re our last hope!’” Smyczek, the last of the 15 Americans in the 128-player men’s draw, said during his post-match news conference. “That was new.”
Only two American men were seeded at the U.S. Open, with No. 13 John Isner losing in the third round and No. 26 Sam Querrey eliminated in the second round. Andy Roddick was the last American man to win the U.S. Open in 2003, while Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi combined to win six titles in the 10 years before that.
“At the very top of the game American tennis is a little bit behind where it has been in years past,” Smyczek said. “We got really spoiled with Pete, Andre and Andy for so many years.”
While Djokovic, Murray and Williams all advanced in straight sets, No. 24 Ekaterina Makarova of Russia scored yesterday’s biggest upset with a 6-4, 6-4 win against third-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland. Makarova advances to face fifth-seeded Li Na of China, who routed Jelena Jankovic, the No. 9 from Serbia, 6-3, 6-0 in the first meeting of top 10 seeds at this year’s tournament.
Serbia’s Djokovic rolled to a 6-0, 6-2, 6-2 victory against Joao Sousa of Portugal and has yet to drop a set through his first three matches. Djokovic, who has reached the semifinals of his past 13 Grand Slams, won in 101 minutes.
“I just wanted to do my job, win in straight sets, and spend as less time on court as possible,” Djokovic said.
Williams, 31, cruised into the women’s quarterfinals with a 6-4, 6-1 win against fellow American Sloane Stephens in Arthur Ashe Stadium. Stephens beat Williams in the quarterfinals of January’s Australian Open, the latter’s only Grand Slam loss from July 2012 through June.
Stephens, 20, and Williams got into a media spat earlier this year after the Australian Open, with Stephens accusing Williams of being disrespectful. Williams, a 16-time Grand Slam champion who is 64-4 this year, said after yesterday’s match that it felt bigger than a fourth round meeting.
“The quality of the tennis was great,” said Williams, who made 13 unforced errors to 29 for her opponent. “Sloane’s a great player. It definitely had feelings more of a quarterfinal or a semifinal match.”
Williams, who has faced a total of three break points in her first four matches, next plays No. 18 seed Carla Suarez Navarro. The Spaniard rallied from a one-set deficit to oust No. 8 seed Angelique Kerber of Germany 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-3).
Murray, who won his first major championship at last year’s U.S. Open, overcame a sluggish start to beat Florian Mayer of Germany 7-6 (7-2), 6-2, 6-2. The final two sets took a total of 65 minutes as Murray advanced to the round of 16 at a Grand Slam for the 11th straight time.
“It was tough conditions, very, very humid,” Murray, 26, said at a news conference. “But I started the second set well. Started hitting the ball a little bit cleaner, was more aggressive after that, and finished it well.”
Fifth-seeded Tomas Berdych, a semifinalist last year, beat Julien Benneteau in straight sets to advance to a fourth-round meetings with No. 9 seed Stanislas Wawrinka, who beat Marcos Baghdatis 6-3, 6-2, 6-7 (1-7), 7-6 (9-7).
Elsewhere in the men’s draw, unseeded 2001 champion Lleyton Hewitt of Australia defeated Evgeny Donskoy of Russia 6-3, 7-6 (7-5), 3-6, 6-1. Hewitt, 32, advances to face 31-year-old Mikhail Youzhny, the 21st seed from Russia who beat Tommy Haas of Germany in four sets.
With Roger Federer (32), David Ferrer (31) and Tommy Robredo (31) also still playing, this is the first time since 1982 that there are four players over the age of 30 left in the final 16 of the men’s draw.
Federer, a five-time U.S. Open champion and No. 7 seed, faces the 19th-seeded Robredo today in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Rafael Nadal, the No. 2 seed from Spain, is also in action today against No. 22 Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany, while No. 4 Ferrer of Spain faces No. 18 Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia, and No. 8 Richard Gasquet of France takes on 10th-seeded Milos Raonic of Canada.
Women’s No. 2 seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus plays No. 13 Ana Ivanovic of Serbia in today’s top women’s match.
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