US Open Day 4 | Wozniacki swipes at schedule as Pliskova and Svitolina progress
The USTA proudly announced that with 87 matches played on Day 3, the US Open set a record for press conferences held in a single day at a Grand Slam tournament – 138 (77 men, 61 women), breaking the previous record of 131, set at the 2007 French Open.
Additionally, the US Open broadcast team executed 84 on-court post-match interviews and set a new precedent with 25 matches voiced from start to finish on a single day.
Not everyone, however, is happy with the scheduling.
I think putting out a schedule where the No 5 in the world is playing on Court 5, fifth match on after 11 pm – I think that’s unacceptable, you knowCaroline Wozniacki
Caroline Wozniacki didn’t go quietly after being bounced out the US Open very late on Day 3, and the fifth-seeded Dane took issue with the tournament for having her play somewhere other than Arthur Ashe Stadium while the unranked and disgraced Maria Sharapova was able to compete on that court both on Monday and on Wednesday.
“I think putting out a schedule where the No 5 in the world is playing on Court 5, fifth match on after 11 pm – I think that’s unacceptable, you know,” the 27-year-old Wozniacki told reporters late in the night.
“And when you look on centre court – I understand completely the business side of things and everything – but someone who comes back from a drug sentence – performance enhancing drugs – and then all of a sudden gets to play every single match on centre court, I think that’s a questionable thing to do.”
Sharapova is competing in her first major since her 15-month doping suspension ended in April.
The Russian followed up her first-round upset of second-seeded Simona Halep with a 6-7(4) 6-4 5-1 victory over Hungarian Timea Babos on Wednesday.
A former No 1 player in the world, Wozniacki reached the US Open final in 2009 and 2014 but will not be advancing that far this season after dropping a 6-2 6-7(5) 6-1 decision in her second-round match to the unranked Russian Ekaterina Makarova.
“I think it doesn’t set a good example and I think someone who has fought their way back from injury and is five in the world deserves to play on a bigger court than Court No 5,” Wozniacki added.
“Finally they moved us to Court 17, which is a really nice court actually and we had great atmosphere out there but I think they should probably look into what they need to do in the future.”
It seems Sharapova continues to make the headlines even on her off-day.
On Day 4, Karolina Pliskova looked to remain on cruise control as the current World No 1 chased a place in the third round on Arthur Ashe Stadium, but she faced stiff opposition.
Pliskova, who needed just 78 minutes to breeze past Poland’s Magda Linette 6-2 6-1 in her opener, was eager to make similarly quick work of American qualifier Nicole Gibbs.
The Czech, however, was rightly wary of the 127th ranked Gibbs, who made the third round of the Australian Open before falling to eventual champion Serena Williams.
Thursday, however, dawned with the fourth seed, Elina Svitolina, first taking centre stage against Evgenlya Rodina from Russia.
The 22-year-old Ukrainian had to come from behind to beat the Czech Republic’s Katerina Siniakova on Wednesday in match held overnight because of rain.
One of seven women still in with a chance of topping the rankings in 12 days’ time, won in three sets, 6-0 6-7 6-3.
Opening the programme on Ashe, Svitolina almost strolled into the US Open third round, scoring a convincing win against Russian Evgeniya Rodina on Thursday.
The 22-year-old, who had also reached the third round at Flushing Meadows in the previous two years, was barely troubled by her 89th-ranked opponent in a sun-kissed Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Svitolina lost focus in the second set at 5-2 when she allowed Rodina to pull a break back, but she held her following service game to wrap up the victory on the first match point with a backhand winner.
It was an entertaining baseline contest and while Svitolina’s sustained dominance didn’t always feel overwhelming, her superior speed and crisper ground strokes made the effort feel routine as she cruised to a 6-4 6-4 victory.
The only exception to the inevitable was when Svitolina served for the match at 5-3 and noticeably tightened, allowing Rodina to take advantage of her only break point.
Consolidating the hold, Svitolina served for the match and the jitters dissipated: she closed out the match 40-0 with a screaming backhand.
“I have no expectations,” she said later. “Just enjoy each match play my game and see how it goes.”
She could, of course, leave the tournament as the World No 1 with a title win.
“I don’t really think about those things,” she insisted.
Svitolina has never made it past the third round and is now the clear favourite in her quarter of the draw.
Since last year’s US Open, Svitolina has jumped from the Top 20 in the world to the Top 5 and, at 22, is the youngest player in the Top 10.
She next faces either American Shelby Rogers or Australian 25th seed Daria Gavrilova.
Next up on Ashe was Pliskova, who had her hands full of all sorts of trouble with Gibbs, who took the first set, 6-2, in their second-round match.
The women’s field has already lost No 2 Simona Halep, N. 5 Carolina Wozniacki, defending champion Angelique Kerber, the 6th seed, and No 7 Johanna Konta.
For a while it looked like the tournament might also lose its top seed, but she rallied, clawing her way back from the brink of defeat to win through in three, 2-6 6-3 6-4.
It was a tight third set but in the end it was Gibbs who blinked in the eyes of defeat and the World No 1 moved on.
Pliskova needs to reach the final to remain on top the rankings, or win the title if Garbiñe Muguruza loses in the semi-finals.
“In the second set I started to serve better and get easy points with my first serve, which was much needed,” admitted Pliskova.
“I’m happy I managed to get through.”
Pliskova, the runner-up in 2016 to Angie Kerber, goes on to face either Chinese 27th seed Zhang Shuai or Risa Ozaki of Japan for a place in the last 16.
In other results, another Russian, Daria Kasatkina, took out the American Christina Mc Hale, 7-5 6-3; while the Romania’s Monica Niculescu defeated fellow countrywoman Ana Bogdan, 6-2 3-6 6-3.