New York | Garcia charges on to meet Riske-Amritraj in Last 16

Caroline Garcia marches on at the US Open, charging into the Last 16 on Friday night with a crushing win over former champion Bianca Andreescu to continue her sizzling run of form.

My game style is to definitely go on the shorter rallies, so try to put pressure on the serve and the return, what I’ve been managing good most of the time. It’s a game I really try to keep improving, what I’ve been doing the last couple of weeks. It’s a challenge every single time I walk on court. But I really like it, really enjoy it. Caroline Garcia

“It was very fast rallies, a few games were really tight, with break backs,” said Garcia of her 13th career US Open match win. “Every game was really important, I really focused on my game, to move forward—that’s what I like to do, that’s how I’m playing good lately, and I enjoy it.”

Ranked at a career-high 4th in 2018, Garcia slipped down the list due to mixed results and injury problems, but since coming back from a foot injury in May, when she was at 79, the Frenchwoman has won a WTA 1000 title on hard court, a grass court event in Bad Homburg and the Warsaw tournament on clay.

Having arrived in New York after becoming the first qualifier to win the title at Cincinnati last week, Garcia has dominated her matches with her aggressive style of play, and is yet to drop a set.

The 17th-seeded Frenchwoman took an hour and 27 minutes to serve up a 6-3 6-2 defeat of the 2019 US Open champion from Canada, and signalled herself as a serious contender for the title in a week’s time.

“When you come to a tournament, you know what’s at the end of the two weeks in a Slam,” said Garcia, now the World No 17. “I’m trying to do what’s working for me to think one match at a time, that’s what I’m doing at the beginning of the year, just focus on one match at a time.

“It’s really tight every day and you have to focus to get another challenge.”

It is the first time that the 28-year-old has made the 4th-round at Flushing Meadows, and she peppered the Louis Armstrong Stadium court with 31 winners and won 69% of her first-serve points to Andreescu’s 44%.


Bianca Andreescu lost only her second career match at the US Open to Caroline Garcia in the 3rd-round in New York

© Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Garcia dominated the proceedings from the start, and there was little Andreescu was able to do against the barrage.

“My game style is to definitely go on the shorter rallies, so try to put pressure on the serve and the return, what I’ve been managing good most of the time,” Garcia said.

“It’s a game I really try to keep improving, what I’ve been doing the last couple of weeks. It’s a challenge every single time I walk on court. But I really like it, really enjoy it.”

Early breaks of the Canadian’s serve set the pattern across both sets, and although Garcia surrendered her lead once in each, she was quick to raise her level to spite the momentary setbacks.

Andreescu, who suffered just her second loss at the US Open against 11 victories, struck 11 winners against 13 unforced errors.

High-flying Garcia has now won 29 of her last 33 matches, and continues her bid to become the first Frenchwoman to ever win a US Open women’s singles title.

As she moves into the second week on a full head of steam, Garcia remains focused and intense after 3 jaw-dropping rounds, and heads into a round of 16 encounter with American Alison Riske-Amritraj as the heavy favourite to reach her first Grand Slam quarter-final since 2017.


Alison Riske-Amritraj needed 3 sets to get past Wang Xiyu into the 4th-round to meet Caroline Garcia

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Riske-Amritraj, ranked 29, made full use of her home-court advantage, defeating Wang Xiyu of China, 6-4 3-6 6-4, to advance to the 4th-round after 2 hours and 21 minutes of play out on Court 17.

After breaking into the Top 100 in mid-June, the unseeded Wang upset No 3 seed Maria Sakkari on Wednesday afternoon, and nearly scored another stunner against the 29th seed on Friday evening.

They traded games in the first set, both sending their heavy groundstrokes over the net, and defending with athletic play.

They managed 30 rallies of 9 shots or more as the sun set on the show court, even though both had played one of the 3 longest women’s singles matches in Queens this year prior to their round 3 meeting.

Eventually, the American fired off a few clutch winners to break for a 5-4 lead, before holding serve to clinch the opener.

The 21-year-old from China had not played under the lights at Flushing Meadows before, but she has a big game, with the left-hander’s fastest serve of the tournament clocking in at 119 mph.

Encouraged by the cheers from the Chinese fans, Wang’s strategic shots kept Riske-Amritraj on the move and was made to cover all the court, which helped her snag the second set.

The red, white and blue kit was not enough to carry the Chinese into the 4th round, though, as Riske-Amritraj took an early lead in the decider and, although Wang persevered until the end of the match, the Chinese lost her rhythm after taking an early medical time-out.

Riske-Amritraj remained consistent and made fewer unforced errors to claim the third set and book her place against Garcia, punching her ticket to the next round by the smallest of margins, winning 89 total points to Wang’s 87.


Zhang Shuai advanced to the Last 16 with a straight sets win over Rebecca Marino

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Earlier in the day, another Chinese advanced when veteran Zhang Shuai put an end to Rebecca Marino’s run, 6-2 6-4.

“She played very well, a very clean match, not many spots for me to try to target,’’ Marino, who is from Vancouver, said afterwards. “I’m really proud of how I tried to fight and play to the end, but it just wasn’t enough.

“Disappointing because I wanted to win, of course. But I had a great result here too so I have a lot to be proud of. A lot of positive coming out of this match and this week as a whole.”

The 31-year-old Canadian equalled her best outcome at a major, her last coming in 2011 at the French Open, which was followed by depression that made her step away from the sport in a burnout hiatus.

After 5 years away, she hopped back onto the carousel in 2018 and, in 2021, contested her first major in 8 years.

Once ranked 38th in the world, Marino has climbed back into the top 100 this season, and came to New York at 106, never tempted to ponder the might-have-been scenarios.

“I don’t think that would be fair to myself, if I put myself in that position, to look back with regret,” she said. “I’m absolutely happy and content with how my life is right now.”

Zheng, who is 33 years old and ranked 36, has a 31-23 record in 2022 and, like Marino, had not dropped a set at Flushing Meadows leading into this encounter.

With her flatter ground strokes keeping the ball low, Zheng caused issues for the 6-foot tall Marino, who was forced to bend at the knees and never quite found a comfortable strike zone of her own.

Marino was up 2-1 in the first set before Zhang won the next 4 to lead 5-2, then converted her first set point on serve.

She proceeded largely unhindered to her first round of 16, taking an early break in the second, holding serve the rest of the way, and converting the first match point she saw.

Zhang didn’t face a break point and broke Marino 3 times out of her 8 chances, and is now on her way to taking on Coco Gauff next, who beat compatriot Madison Keys, 6-2 6-3.


Liudmila Samsonova has been flying under the radar at this year's US Open, beating Aleksandra Krunic in the 3rd-round

© Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Elsewhere, Liudmila Samsonova equalled her best showing at a Grand Slam on Friday afternoon, booking a spot in the Round of 16 at the 2022 US Open with a 6-3 6-3 win over Serbia’s Aleksandra Krunic.

It was Samsonova’s 13th consecutive match win, setting up a potential meeting with Serena Williams, should the American favourite defeat Ajla Tomljanovic on Friday night.

In just her third US Open, the World No 35 Samsonova continued a breakthrough summer in which she won the titles in Washington, DC, and Cleveland while, on Wednesday she upset last year’s runner-up Leylah Fernandez from Canada for her first Top-20 win at a Grand Slam.

Samsonova continued to display solid form in the first set, including an 11-point win streak that pushed her ahead 4-2.

After just 30 minutes, she was halfway to the finish line with a one-set lead, and using her big-hitting baseline game to break Krunic early for a 3-1 lead in the second as she powered home her advantage.

Krunic saved 2 match points while serving at 2-5 to stay in the match, but Samsonova converted on her 4th to seal the win, finishing the match with 21 winners to 21 unforced errors, while the more error-prone Serbian made 27 unforced errors against her 12 winners.

The 5-foot-11 Samsonova leads the WTA in service games won with 80.3%, second serve points won at 53.8% and overall service points won, 63.7%, so it’s no surprise that her service game worked to her advantage Friday evening against Krunic, in which she won 21 of 31 first-serve points and did not double-fault in the entire match.


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