US Open | Day 7 highlights
USOpen.org reports that with each passing day at the 2018 US Open, the field shrinks but the spotlight grows.
On Day 7, the New York City lights shined bright on eight fourth-round singles matches, four each in the men’s and women’s events, as the tournament’s first quarter-final tickets were punched.
Three matches got full exposure by going the distance, including wins by Serena Williams and John Isner, while two Top-10 seeds, Kevin Anderson and Elina Svitolina, faded into the shadows as their campaigns came to an early end.
It will be a dream to play again in Arthur Ashe Stadium and to play Serena, because obviously last match we played, I won. Since then, we didn't play. A lot of things happened in between. Karolina Pliskova
Serena Williams, Karolina Pliskova set up 2016 US Open semi-final rematch: Much has been made of Williams’ ever-evolving on-court fashion (this year, the one-sleeved tutu), yet her resolve to be at the top of the women’s game has stayed the same.
She put everyone on notice after her victory against sister Venus in the third round, calling that performance the “best match since my return.”
On Sunday, against Kaia Kanepi, the six-time US Open champion didn’t let up, though she was pushed to three before clinching her quarterfinal spot, 6-0 4-6 6-3.
Williams let out a roar as she took the lead in the decider.
“It was a Serena scream,” Williams said with a smile in her press conference. “I don’t try to do it. It just comes out, and it’s just emotions and just — you’re out there. This is my job and this is what I do. This is how I earn a living. I’m going to do it the best I can.”
Up next is a rematch of the 2016 semi-final against Pliskova, a fellow serving powerhouse. Pliskova dismissed Australia’s Ashleigh Barty in straight sets in their round-of-16 battle, and the Czech eagerly awaits her chance to score another victory against Williams.
“It will be a dream to play again in Arthur Ashe Stadium and to play Serena, because obviously last match we played, I won,” she said. “Since then, we didn’t play. A lot of things happened in between.”
Rafael Nadal aces another test, awaits Dominic Thiem: For the second straight match, Nadal faced a four-set examination in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
On Sunday, it was Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili asking the questions.
Again, Nadal passed, this time though to the quarter-finals, with the help of a hot-shot forehand pass to seal the decisive break in the final set.
Nadal, a 6-3 6-3 6-7 6-4 winner, has now been on court for 11 hours and 5 minutes across 4 matches, but the finish line is in sight with just three victories standing between him and his first successful Grand Slam title defence outside of Roland Garros.
He will face Thiem in the quarter-finals on Tuesday.
Thiem prevented a 2017 final rematch by cutting down Kevin Anderson in the first meeting of Top-10 opponents of the tournament in what he called “one of my best matches ever.”
He expertly linked defence and attack to counter Anderson’s first-strike game plan, blunting the South Africans power game in a 7-5 6-2 7-6 win.
The Austrian has beaten Nadal three times in 10 career meetings, but has not picked up a set in three Grand Slam encounters, all of which came at the French Open.
Tuesday’s US Open quarter-final will be a rematch of their 2018 Paris final.
Sloane Stephens rolls Elise Mertens, gets Anastasija Sevastova next: The defending champ has now won 11 straight US Open matches, and she turned in another top-drawer display to ease past No 15 Mertens, 6-3 6-3, in Ashe.
Like in her third-round match against Victoria Azarenka, Stephens was at her best at the big moments.
Both Sunday sets were tight in the early stages, but Stephens took the last three games of the opener and the final four games of set two in a convincing win.
Up next for Stephens is Sevastova, her quarter-final opponent one year ago.
The Latvian has an impressive Flushing Meadows résumé herself: the No 19 seed added No 7 Elina Svitolina to her list of Flushing Meadows upsets, which also includes wins over then-No 3 Garbiñe Muguruza (in Round 2 in 2016) and Maria Sharapova in the round of 16 last year, to book her quarter-final berth for the third straight year.
Juan Martin del Potro, John Isner set up clash of titans: The Tower of Tandil ended the evening in Ashe with a tidy 6-4 6-3 6-1 victory over an in-form Borna Coric.
The young Croat had dropped just one set in three matches leading into Day 7, but del Potro quickly changed that in their encounter under the lights in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The 2009 US Open champion will face another gentle giant in the 6-foot-10 Isner for a semi-final spot.
The last American standing in the men’s draw is enjoying a banner year on the court at the age of 33.
After hoisting his first Masters 1000 title in Miami (d. A. Zverev) and reaching his first major semi-final at Wimbledon (l. to Anderson), he is now back in the US Open quarter-finals for the first time since 2011, courtesy of a 3-6 6-3 6-4 3-6 6-2 victory over Canadian Milos Raonic.
“I think I’m better [now vs. in 2011]. Physically I’m stronger, wiser, I have a lot of experience on my side. I’m feeling really good,” said Isner. “Just in a good place, happy. I’m really enjoying competing, not putting too much pressure on myself. To do that at 33 now is pretty cool.”
Isner trails 4-7 in his head-to-head against the Argentine, but won their most recent hard-court encounter in the Miami semi-finals.
Quote of the Day: “It will be, for me, a dream to play again in Arthur Ashe, for sure, and to play Serena, because obviously last match we played, I won. Since then, we didn’t play. A lot of things happened between. That will be, I think, a match where I want to repeat on Arthur Ashe where we played in 2016.” –Karolina Pliskova on playing Serena Williams in the quarter-finals.
Looking ahead: There is no rest for the weary on Labor Day, as 2017 runner-up Madison Keys opens play in Arthur Ashe Stadium against Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia.
Grand Slam champs Novak Djokovic, Maria Sharapova (again under the lights) and Roger Federer, owners of 38 slam titles collectively, will follow in Ashe for their Round of 16 matches.
A Japanese double feature starts off the Armstrong schedule, with 2014 finalist Kei Nishikori and No 20 seed Naomi Osaka bidding for their quarter-final spots.
Marin Cilic, Nishikori’s conqueror in that US Open final four years ago, will play Belgium’s David Goffin for a place in the last eight.
BritWatch: Jamie Murray & Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA) defeated Juan Cabal (COL) & Abigail Spears (USA), 6-4 7-6(2) in the Mixed Doubles R2; Jacob Fearnley lost to Cezar Cretu (ROU), 6-4 7-5 in the Boys Singles Qualifying R2; and Anton Matusevich lost to Otto Virtanen (FIN), 5-7 7-5 7-5, in the Boys Singles R1.
Brits in action on Day 8: Grandstand – Men’s Doubles R3 / Jamie Murray & Bruno Soares (BRA)  v Robin Haase (NED) & Matwe Middelkoop (NED) ; Louis Armstrong Stadium – Mixed Doubles QF / Jamie Murray & Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA) v Wesley Koolhof (NED) & Nadia Kichenol (UKR); Court 4 – Boys Singles R1 / Aidan McHugh v Cesar Cretu (ROU); Court 4 – Girls Singles R1 / Emma Raducanu v Margaryta Bilokin (UKR); TBA: Men’s Doubles R3: Dominic Inglot & Franko Skugor (CRO) v Mike Bryan (USA) & Jack Sock (USA) .
Prime Watch: Amazon Prime has upped its streaming game with 7 match courts now available in addition to its US Open Live Show channel available via smart TV, FireStick, computer and mobile device.
These are live television feeds from Arthur Ashe Stadium, Louis Armstrong Stadium, Grandstand, and Courts 5, 10, 13 and 17.
As a result, viewers can watch Jamie Murray in action on Monday, who plays the second match on the Grandstand, a men’s doubles, and fourth on Armstrong, a mixed doubles quarter-final.