Belinda Bencic became the youngest player to reach the U.S. Open quarterfinals since Martina Hingis in 1997, as the Swiss 17-year-old ousted ninth-seeded Jelena Jankovic of Serbia.
Bencic’s 7-6 (8-6), 6-3 win in Arthur Ashe Stadium was her third straight against a ranked opponent at the season’s final Grand Slam tennis championship. It came after thunderstorms pushed back the start of her match by two hours -- the tournament’s first rain delay -- and No. 4 David Ferrer became the first top-10 men’s seed eliminated.
Bencic, ranked 58th in the world, is the youngest quarterfinalist at a Grand Slam since Nicole Vaidisova of the Czech Republic made the 2006 French Open semifinals at 17. Bencic is the youngest player to reach the U.S. Open final eight since Hingis won the 1997 title three weeks shy of her 17th birthday. Hingis’s mother is one of Bencic’s coaches.
“It was always a dream to play on this court,” Bencic said in a televised interview in Arthur Ashe Stadium, where Hingis was among those in attendance. “I watched it as a kid and I dreamed about playing here.”
Jankovic’s exit came after Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark defeated No. 5 Maria Sharapova, leaving just three of the top-10 seeded players left in the women’s draw.
Roger Federer returned from the two-hour rain delay to erase an early deficit against Marcel Granollers and reach the fourth round at the U.S. Open for the 14th consecutive year.
Gilles Simon of France fought through hot and humid conditions at the National Tennis Center to beat Ferrer of Spain 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, 6-3 in Louis Armstrong Stadium.
Joining Federer and Simon in the fourth round with wins yesterday were No. 6 seed Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic, No. 7 Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, No. 17 Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain and Dominic Thiem of Austria, who beat 19th-seeded Feliciano Lopez of Spain in three sets.
Top seeds Novak Djokovic of Serbia and Serena Williams of the U.S. are back in action today on the U.S. Labor Day holiday.
Djokovic will try to advance to the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam for the 22nd consecutive tournament. The last time he failed to reach the final eight at a Grand Slam was at the 2009 French Open, when he was beaten in the third round by his opponent today, No. 22 seed Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany.
Djokovic is among six of the men’s top-10 seeds on the court today, as No. 3 Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland plays No. 16 Tommy Robredo of Spain, No. 5 Milos Raonic of Canada faces 10th-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan, and eighth-seeded Andy Murray of Britain meets No. 9 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France.
Williams, the only American man or woman left in the tournament, plays Kaia Kanepi of Estonia today, seeking to take a step closer to becoming the first player to win the same Grand Slam title three straight times since Justine Henin at the French Open from 2005 through 2007.
Seventh-seeded Eugenie Bouchard of Canada, one of the other two top-10 women left, plays No. 17 Ekaterina Makarova of Russia for a spot in the quarterfinals.
Bencic, playing in the main stadium for the first time, said she was overwhelmed by the size of Ashe initially. She trailed 5-3 in the first set, yet twice had service breaks when Jankovic was serving to win the set before taking the tiebreak.
“At the beginning I was too impressed. I didn’t play well,” said Bencic, who first started at Hingis’s mother’s tennis school when she was 4 and began daily training with her at age 7. “I was not nervous, but just overwhelmed from everything. The court was little bit different and also night session is different than in the day, so I had to have some time to adapt to everything.”
Bencic next faces Peng Shuai of China, who topped 14th-seeded Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic in two sets.
Federer, a five-time champion and men’s No. 2 seed, lost the first 10 points of the match and trailed 5-2 in the opening set when thunderstorms caused the tournament’s first delay. Granollers won the opening set 6-4 when play resumed before Switzerland’s Federer took the next three sets by 6-1 scores.
“He was doing a lot of things really well,” Federer said. “It was just going to be one of those things to like weather the storm and see if he could maintain that level of play or not and if I could lift my game up. I think overall it worked out great at the end.”
In stifling heat and humidity earlier in the day before the thunderstorms hit, 10th-seeded Wozniacki beat Sharapova 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 on the main court. Wozniacki, 24, from Denmark, said her training for the New York City Marathon this November helped her with the conditioning necessary to endure.
“It was a tough battle out there,” Wozniacki said. “It was humid; it was hot; I had to change my dress. That rarely happens. It was just soaked. Definitely it’s helping, because I felt fresh out there and I felt like I could keep going.”
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