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The Davis Cup favourites, Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev, representing the Russian Tennis Federation rather than their country as it is banned from international competition for state doping violations, cruised into the final at the Caja Magica in Madrid, after...

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Croatia knock Serbia out

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Pliskova, Andreescu and Swiatek march into round of 16

With the premature departure of Ash Barty, Karolina Pliskova is the highest seed left in the top half of the US Open draw, and she cruised past Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia, while Bianca Andreescu, Iga Swiatek, Belinda Bencic and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova all successfully progressed into the 4th round, with Petra Kvitova the only casualty, falling at the hands of Maria Sakkari.

She's very powerful. She serves very well. She moves well. She's a fighter. But I'm also all those things, so it's going to be good. I'm pumped. Bianca Andreescu

Pliskova, the No 4 seed from Czech Republic, took an hour 11 minutes to dispatch Tomljanovic, 6-3 6-2, on the Grandstand court.

“I was just feeling confident coming to this match,” Pliskova said, after her win. “Of course, I was serving pretty well, even better than the match before.

“So that kind of helped me a bit. Even the game from the baseline, I thought it was pretty solid today.”

This year’s Wimbledon runner-up slammed down 20 aces among the 33 winners she struck, and saved all 5 of the break points she faced, well outpacing the 24 unforced errors she made.

It was an impressive performance against the World No 46 Australian, who reached her first Grand Slam quarter-final at Wimbledon earlier this year, and had just 8 winners to her 15 unforced errors.

Pliskova, a former World No 1, made it into the US Open 4th round for the 5th time in her career, where she will meet Pavlyuchenkova, the 14th seed from Russia, who was a 6-1 6-4 winner over compatriot Varvara Gracheva.


Bianca Andreescu's power proved too much for Greet Minnen to handle

© Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Andreescu, the No 6 seed, joined compatriot Leylah Fernandez in the last 16, marking the first time in the Open Era that two Canadians have made that stage of a Grand Slam.

The 2019 US Open champion was brutally efficient against Belgium’s Greet Minnen, dropping just 3 games to score her 10th consecutive match win at Flushing Meadows.

The 21-year-old did not defend her title last year as she fought injury and illness for most of the season, but she is looking good in New York as she raced out of the gates, striking 3 authoritative winners in the first game.

She fired 21 winners to 11 unforced errors, with her backhand producing the most breathtaking shots to crush Minnen, who struck 17 winners, which were not enough to combat the 22 unforced errors she leaked, 14 of which came from a forehand that Andreescu repeatedly targeted with both power and a vicious slice.

Andreescu’s first consecutive trio of wins since her run to the Miami final in March sets up a clash with No 17 seed Sakkari, who upset 10th-seeded Kvitova in straight sets.

“She’s very powerful,” Andreescu said of Sakkari. “She serves very well. She moves well. She’s a fighter. But I’m also all those things, so it’s going to be good. I’m pumped.”

Sakkari moved into the US Open round of 16 for the second year in a row by dispatching the Czech, 6-4 6-3, on Arthur Ashe Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

It was the Greek’s 8th win over a Top 20 player this season as she swept to victory in an hour 20 minutes, striking 19 winners to 16 unforced errors in the match, and saving the 2 break points she faced on the day.

By contrast, Kvitova’s powerful left-handed game was off-form, her 16 winners undone by 33 unforced errors, while she was also out-aced by Sakkari, by 9 to 5.

“I think it was a great match,” Sakkari said afterwards. “It’s always tough to play against Petra, because she hits very hard, probably the hardest on the tour.

“She’s lefty, so it makes your life even tougher. I was prepared that I’m gonna have to hit out of her rockets, but I’m very pleased with the way I served, the way I returned, and my attitude on court once again.”

Kvitova had praise for Sakkari too, saying: “I think that she definitely played better than me today. There is no doubt about it. She deserved to win.

“She didn’t really miss anything. I tried, but she really served very well. She didn’t really give me the chances. Maybe in the first set I did have two chances, but it was really tough to make them.”


Iga Swiatek (R) had to battle past Anett Kontaveit to reach the 4th round of the US Open

© Elsa/Getty Images

Swiatek, the No 7 seed from Poland, admits she is feeling the pressure of expectation these days but she is taking some inspiration from Barty, the World No 1, with whom she has been practising in new York.

She is particularly impressed by Barty’s ability to stay calm even when things aren’t going perfectly.

“It’s really inspiring,” she said. “Practising with Ash is different because you can see her mentality and the way she treats things.

“When she makes a mistake, she’s not frustrated. She doesn’t seem to [get frustrated]. Even when she is frustrated, she uses it to play better and better. So I’m trying to learn from her.

“I think I need a few more years to understand completely how to get there. But she’s a great player to watch and take some lessons from her.”

They seem to be paying off as the 2020 French Open champion became the only woman to reach at least the 4th round of every Grand Slam this year with a 6-3 4-6 6-3 victory over Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit on Saturday.

The 20-year old faced a tough test getting past Kontaveit, as the Estonian fended off 14 of Swiatek’s 19 break points but it was the Pole who dropped serve one fewer times in the match to prevail.

The hard-hitting contest saw Kontaveit making 5 more winners than Swiatek’s 32, but also 7 more unforced errors than the Pole’s 27.

Swiatek took charge of the opener by breaking an error-prone Kontaveit for 5-3, then held on for the one-set lead, but in the second, the Estonian, who had twice been up a break, gritted out a tough hold for 5-4, then drew double-faults and miscues from Swiatek to break in the next game and tie the match.

At 1-1 in the third, Kontaveit seemed to be cruising when Swiatek used heavy hitting to convert a break point into a 2-1 lead, which she built into 5-3 and held 5 match points on the Kontaveit serve, the first four of which were saved by the Estonian with 2 big backhands and 2 aces but, on the 5th, Kontaveit sent her forehand long.

“That’s my first time in the fourth round of US Open, I’m pretty proud of that,” the Pole said, after her win. “We did a great job.

“in fourth round of all the Grand Slams this year, it shows that really I am going the right path.

“The match was exciting, was kind of stressful, really physical, because we had games when we had so many ad [points], so long, that I could feel that I’m getting more and more tired.

“But I knew that I’m well-prepared. I’m pretty happy actually I could for the first time show the tennis that I was playing on practices, that I was working on.”

Swiatek will now meet No 11 seed and Olympic gold medalist Belinda Bencic, who defeated 23rd-seeded Jessica Pegula from the USA, 6-2 6-4, earlier on Saturday.

Bencic had not dropped a set to the American in two previous meetings, and rarely looked like doing so here.

Pegula’s flat hitting played into Bencic’s hands, coming into the 24-year-old’s ideal strike zone, and the Swiss was able to take the ball as early as she needed and redirect it almost at will.

Bencic’s serve was also on song, and although she tallied only 4 aces, a total of 22 serves went unreturned, including 3 in a row to serve out the match, which was a fine way to shrug off missing 3 match points on Pegula’s serve in the previous game.


Belinda Bencic defeated Jessica Pegula in straight sets on Day Six of the US Open

© Sarah Stier/Getty Images


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