Day 4 at the US Open began routinely enough and then produced a series of surprises.
Late in the day the 8th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova joined the lengthening line of top tenners leaving the tournament in an astonishing upset on the Grandstand.
The 2004 champion was eliminated by 25-year old Kurumi Nara from Japan, 6-3 3-6 6-3, on Thursday night, who reached the third round at Flushing Meadows for the first time since 2013.
Biggest win of my career Kurumi Nara
It was the first victory in nine matches against opponents ranked in the top 10 for Nara, who is ranked 116.
“Biggest win of my career,” she said, smiling.
She arrived in New York after a rough season, failing to qualify at any of her past three events and with a dismal 4-11 win/loss record in 2017 before this week.
In fact, Nara has never been past the third round at any Grand Slam tournament before and will play Lucy Safarova next, who dispatched another Japanese, Nao Hibino, 6-1 3-6 6-2.
Nara broke in six of Kuznetsova’s 13 service games and was steady down the stretch.
“I was nervous on the last point,” Nara admitted, but figured that her decision to play aggressively and try to move into the court as much as possible had helped her.
Kuznetsova’s exit means five of the top eight women in the field are now out of contention ahead of the third round.
She joins No 2 Simona Halep, No 5 Caroline Wozniacki, No 6 Angelique Kerber and No 7 Johanna Konta on the sidelines.
Kerber was the defending champion, who lost in the opening round.
In addition to her US Open title, Kuznetsova was the runner-up in 2007 and was the French Open champion in 2009.
The Russian came to New York this year as one of eight women with a chance to move up to top spot in the WTA rankings after the tournament.
Of those left in the draw, only Karolina Pliskova, Garbiñe Muguruza, Elina Svitolina and Venus Williams can now finish it as World No 1, while Simona Halep also remains in contention despite losing in the first round.
Rogers defeats Gavrilova in longest match
Out on Court 10, history was being made as the longest women’s match in US Open history was played out between Shelby Rogers and the 25th-seeded Daria Gavrilova, from Australia.
Further more, after 3 hours, 33 minutes, the American pulled off the upset by winning her way into the third round, 7-6(6) 4-6 7-6(5).
The previous record was 3 hours, 23 minutes, set when Johanna Konta defeated Garbine Muguruza in the 2015 second round, 7-6, 6-7, 6-2.
The 24-year old Rogers, who currently is ranked 62 and whose best result at a Grand Slam came by reaching the quarter-finals at the 2016 French Open, will play fourth-seeded Ukrainian Elina Svitolina in the third round.
“I didn’t feel like it was the longest match ever,” Rogers said. “But it’s starting to set in a little bit now. Going to be sore.
“Got the last one, that’s all that matters.”
Gavrilova was asked what she thought was the difference in the match: “The two last points,” she replied.
The winner of her first career title last week at the Connecticut Open, Gavrilova wouldn’t have had to worry about losing in a tiebreak if she was playing in another Grand Slam tournament.
The US Open is the only one of the four majors that uses the tiebreak in the decisive set, but she wasn’t interested in playing any more games.
“No, it was a 3 1/2 [hour] match,” she said. “Just get it done. Get it over with.”
When Rogers finally did, she stopped off for some treatment – and a well-deserved meal.
“Ice bath, straight to dining,” she said. “That was a long time to go without eating.”
Vandeweghe dispatches Jabeur under the lights
Elsewhere, on Arthur Ashe Stadium in prime time, Coco Vandeweghe advanced to the third round of the US Open for the first time after dispatching two-time Olympian Ons Jabeur of Tunisia, 7-6 6-2 under the lights on Thursday night.
In a close first set, both players held their serves and were remarkably stingy about giving away any points.
In their first five service games, both Jabeur and Vandeweghe only conceded five points apiece.
The plot thickened when Vandeweghe led 6-5 and failed to convert three set points on Jabeur’s serve.
In the subsequent tiebreak, Jabeur had two set points of her own: at 6-4 , when she hit a backhand long, and at 6-5, when Vandeweghe hit a forehand cross-court winner.
Vandeweghe took a 7-6 advantage when Jabeur’s return of serve went long.
On the next point, Jabeur netted a shot and gave the 2017 Australian Open semi-finalist the set.
In the second set, Vandeweghe broke Jabeur in the first game and then broke her again six games later to take a 5-2 lead.
She was both visibly and audibly fired up.
On the changeover, the 22-year-old American closed her eyes and prepared to serve for the match.
She quickly took a 40-15 lead and encouraged the crowd to turn up the volume.
After faulting on her first serve, Vandeweghe advanced to round three when Jabeur sunk a forehand into the net to end the night.
“This is my first win on Ashe so I’m really stoked on that,” said Vandeweghe said on-court afterwards.
“I’m still not happy with how I’m playing so it’s a way to go up from here. I have a lot of tennis to play.”
Vandeweghe advances to a third-round meeting with the 10th seed Aggie Radwanska.
Radwanska moves on in straight sets
Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska beat Yulia Putintseva 7-5 6-2, on Court 17 to advance to the third round.
Putintseva, 22, was a surprise quarter-finalist at the 2016 French Open but has not been past the third round at any other major.
Both players struggled on serve throughout the match and, in the first set alone, Radwanska was broken twice and Putintseva three times, enough to deliver the set to Radwanska, who broke at 6-5 to claim it.
Radwanska pulled away in the second, registering 10 winners and only 3 unforced errors and going 3-for-3 on break-point chances to advance to the third round.
At 29, the Pole has never made the quarter-finals at the US Open, the only Slam where she hasn’t reached the round of 8.
She lost the Wimbledon final in 2012 and has made five Grand Slam semi-finals since that year.
Osaka advances over Allertova
Out on Court 13, Japanese teenager Naomi Osaka, who ousted defending champion Angelique Kerber in her opener, powered into the US Open third round on Thursday, outlasting 90th-ranked Czech Denisa Allertova 6-3 4-6 7-5 to reach the last 32 in the New York
The 19-year-old used fist pumps and screams to focus her wandering thoughts and shake off the stress to match her best Grand Slam showing.
“[It was] just willpower, because I don’t really think I was playing that good,” Osaka said.
“I felt a little bit stressed because it was my first match after playing Kerber. So I felt a little bit of expectations to win and that’s why I wasn’t playing so well.
“When I was walking down the hall to go to the court for the match I was like, ‘Oh my God,’ The hallway is super long so I started thinking way too much. But at least I won in the end.”
Showing her emotions after key points and great shots kept the 45th-ranked Osaka’s mind sharp over the 1 hour, 52 minute affair.
“Saying ‘Come on,’ is a way for me to stay concentrated because sometimes my mind wanders during the match,” she said
“And if I’m really pumped up, then I tend to focus really well.”
Osaka, who has a Haitian father and Japanese mother, hit 35 winners and made the last of 10 aces on match point after it withstood an appeal.
“I was thinking, ‘Please Jesus, if you’re real…'” Osaka said. “I’m glad it turned out to be in.”
Osaka, the 2016 WTA Newcomer of the Year, could reach her first fourth round at a Grand Slam on Saturday if she can overcome the Estonian qualifier Kaia Kanepi, who beat Yanina Wickmayer, 6-4 6-2.
The Japanese already has the respect of her potential last-16 opponent Jelena Ostapenko, the reigning French Open champion: “She plays really well,” the Latvian 12th seed said.
“She hits the ball hard, has a big serve.”
Other youth into the third round include US 18-year-old wildcard Sofia Kenin, Russian 19-year-old men’s contender Andrey Rublev and 18-year-old Canadian qualifier Denis Shapovalov.
Osaka takes inspiration from the success of other teen titans.
“It’s motivating,” Osaka said. “Whenever I see them winning and stuff, it makes me really motivated to do the same.
“And I think in a sense maybe we are pushing each other to do better, because I know subconsciously I keep track of all their matches and stuff.”
In other second results: Madison Keys (15) defeated Tatjana Maria from Germany, 6-3 6-4; Shuai Zhang (27) saw off another Japanese, Risa Ozaki, 6-0 6-3; Russia’s Elena Vesnina (17) dispatched Kirsten Flipkens from Belgium, 6-4 6-4; Another Russian, Daria Kasatkina ended Christian McHale’s hopes, 7-5 6-3: and Monica Niculescu from Romania continued her march by beating compatriot Ana Bogdan, 6-2 3-6 6-3.