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Juan Martin del Potro will face Stan Wawrinka, while Andy Murray takes on Kei Nishikori on Wednesday at the US Open. Photo: Getty Images
See the latest Emirates ATP Rankings as of 5 September 2016.
Justin Gimelstob previews Monday's US Open quarter-final matches: Novak Djokovic vs. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and Gael Monfils vs. Lucas Pouille.
Top seed and defending champion Novak Djokovic will continue his pursuit of a third US Open title when he meets ninth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Djokovic had spent just three hours and eight minutes on court in reaching the fourth round, thanks to a walkover and a withdrawal, but he showed glimpses of his best in a straight-sets rout of Kyle Edmund.
Tsonga is through to the quarter-finals, his 14th at Grand Slam level, for the second straight year. Only once has he progressed to a Grand Slam final and the man who would deny him at the 2008 Australian Open was the Serbian he next faces. Tsonga was impressive in dismissing Jack Sock in the fourth round but has beaten Djokovic only six times in 21 FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings.
Whoever the victor, a Frenchman will await in the semi-finals with 10th seed Gael Monfils and 24th seed Lucas Pouille to clash. Monfils, enjoying his most consistent season to date, won his biggest ATP World Tour title at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C. leading in. He has rolled through his first four matches without losing a set, comfortably dismissing Marcos Baghdatis in the fourth round. Pouille is coming off his biggest career win, a five-set upset of two-time former champion Rafael Nadal.
It marks Pouille's second straight Grand Slam quarter-final, and he will be looking to avenge defeat from his only prior match-up with Monfils, a five-setter in the first round of this year’s Australian Open.
Andy Murray strolled into his sixth US Open quarter-final on Monday night, never letting Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov into their fourth-round contest. The second seed dismissed the No. 22-seeded Dimitrov 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 in two hours in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
“I played very well. Tactically I played a very good match. I don't think I made any mistakes there. I kept good concentration throughout,” Murray said. “I think Grigor played his best, but I didn't really give him a chance to get into the match.”
The straight-sets win places Murray into the quarter-finals in New York for the fifth time in the past six years. The top Brit will next tangle with Japanese Kei Nishikori, who beat Croatian Ivo Karlovic 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(4) on Monday afternoon. Murray leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 7-1, including a 6-1, 6-4 win on the hard courts in Rio last month.
“I have played well against him in the past. But he likes these conditions. He plays well in New York. He's made his only [Grand] Slam final here. He beat Novak here,” Murray said. “He's obviously playing pretty well this summer.”
Dimitrov had beaten Murray the last time they played on American hard courts, on March 28 at the Miami Open presented by Itau. But since their meeting at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event, Murray had gone 26-0 against opponents ranked outside the Top 20 of the Emirates ATP Rankings, and he demonstrated how on Monday night.
The second seed tugged Dimitrov from side to side, keeping the 6'3” right-hander behind the baseline and away from any attacking position. Even when Dimitrov could pounce on a shorter ball, Murray was able to redirect and turn around the point or blast a winner from feet behind the baseline.
“Once I got up in the score, wasn't giving him any free points, I could sense it was getting tough for him,” Murray said. “I just wanted to keep my foot on the gas.”
Dimitrov hit 13 unforced errors to two winners in the first set before Murray took the opener with a 141 m.p.h. ace. The former World No. 8 showed some fire in the second set, breaking at 0-3 to a “Come on!” and looking as if he'd climb into the match.
But Murray broke back the next game and later gained a two-set lead. He played even better in the final set. The 29 year old won 92 per cent of his first-serve points (11/12) and saved both break points faced. Dimitrov finished with 13 winners and 43 unforced errors.
“I knew what I had to do. I didn't execute things the right way. I did a lot of unforced errors. First serve was gone. Andy was just putting everything back in the court,” Dimitrov said.
“Today I ran out of fuel, I think, physically and mentally. I was a little bit overwhelmed to get out there, playing that prime time match,” Dimitrov said. “Of course, it's a great experience for me. Andy right now is the best player out there.”
The positive stretch in Flushing Meadows also caps off Dimitrov's strong North American hard-court swing. He reached the semi-finals of the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati last month and the quarter-finals at the Rogers Cup in Toronto in July.
“The past five, six weeks I feel I've been doing the right things, been really good with my professionalism on and off the court. Discipline has been better overall. My game plan is a little bit better,” Dimitrov said. “So I think things are moving a little bit forward.”
Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares have qualified for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, to be held at The O2 in London from 13-20 November. Murray/Soares won their third-round match at the US Open against Brian Baker and Marcus Daniell 6-3, 7-6(7). Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau’s third-round loss earlier in the day ensured that the British-Brazilian team would qualify for the prestigious year-end championship.
Murray/Soares are currently No. 3 in the Emirates ATP Doubles Race To London. The 2016 Australian Open champions (d. Nestor/Stepanek) own two team titles (2016 Sydney) and have reached the finals of ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events in Toronto and Monte Carlo this year.
“It means a lot to us. This is the No. 1 goal in the beginning of the year. It's to qualify. It's to be in the Top 8,” Soares said. “I've played there a couple of times, and it's just the best tournament of the year.”
Murray will be making his second consecutive London appearance. Last year, he and partner John Peers were eliminated in the group stage. Soares qualified for London in 2013 and 2014 alongside Alexander Peya. They reached the semi-finals (l. to Bryan/Bryan) in 2013.
"You really have to deserve to be there,” Soares said. “It's really, really difficult. So it's a great effort, great achievement for us as a team to be there and to be there in our first year of our partnership. I'm looking forward another time competing at the O2.”
After a 13-year career that included titles as well as service, the ATP World Tour recently said thanks to Eric Butorac, who played his last doubles match on Thursday at the US Open.
Top seeds and defending champions Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut are through to the US Open men’s doubles quarter-finals after a hard-fought victory over Jeremy Chardy and Sam Groth. The all-French pairing defeated their countryman and the Australian 6-4, 5-7, 6-4.
In addition to their maiden Grand Slam doubles title together at Flushing Meadows last year, Herbert/Mahut also won this year’s Wimbledon title and will need to down Robert Lindstedt and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi next to keep their title defence alive. The Swedish-Pakistani duo upset fifth seeds Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau 6-3, 7-6(4).
Fourth seeds Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares scored a 6-3, 7-6(7) win over Brian Baker and Marcus Daniell to reach a quarter-final showdown with Chris Guccione and Andre Sa. The third-round victory also ensured Murray/Soares qualified for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.
Completing the quarter-final line-up, Spanish eighth seeds Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez had a convincing 6-3, 6-3 triumph over Thomaz Bellucci and Marcelo Demoliner. They will meet five-time US Open champions, third seeds Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan next.
Kei Nishikori gave the storied Louis Armstrong Stadium a proper send-off, beating Ivo Karlovic 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(4) in the fourth round of the US Open on Monday. The venerable court, hosting a men’s singles match for the last time, is set to be replaced by a temporary structure next year, before a new complex is unveiled for the 2018 US Open. The 2014 finalist (l. to Cilic) is into the last eight at Flushing Meadows for the second time in eight appearances and will face Andy Murray.
Despite playing on a windy day with gusts up to 25mph, Nishikori started the match flawlessly from the baseline. The Japanese star hit 26 winners and, remarkably, did not make a single groundstroke unforced error in building a two-set lead. Karlovic forced a third-set tie-break after firing 19 winners in the set, but Nishikori raced to a 6/0 lead before closing out the match in just over two hours.
“Today I returned really well. That for sure helped my game today,” Nishikori said. “I was able to get the break first and second set early. So that made me a little more relaxed.
“And my serve was much better today. I was able to hit a lot of first serves in.
“The third set, it was a little bit tight in the end. But, yeah, really good focus today. Happy with my win.”
The 37-year-old Karlovic was bidding to become the oldest player to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final since 39-year-old Jimmy Connors fought into the US Open semis in 1991. However, the conditions conspired against the 6’11” Croatian, affecting his service toss and pushing Nishikori’s topspin lobs beyond Karlovic’s prodigious reach. He finished with 21 aces but was broken twice.
“It's never easy, [facing] someone serving like Ivo,” Nishikori said. “[He has] a great first serve, and second serve too. It's never easy to return those kind of serves.
“I tried to stay down. I’ve been returning well, so that’s also helping today’s game, too. Yeah, especially today I think play one of the best matches – serves, returns, everything, groundstrokes. So it was a good match.”
Nishikori, who has reached the second week in all four Grand Slam events this year, improved to 6-7 in career fourth-round matches at major tournaments. He is now 2-2 in 2016, including a quarter-final showing at the Australian Open (l. to Djokovic).
After a 13-year career that included titles as well as service, the ATP World Tour recently said thanks to Eric Butorac, who played his last doubles match on Thursday at the US Open.
“It's a special time, a time to celebrate but also a little bit sad as the ATP World Tour says goodbye to a very special person,” said Justin Gimelstob, Player Representative on the ATP World Tour Board of Directors.
Butorac, who had announced his retirement plans earlier this season, was joined by family and friends during the brief ceremony at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows. He reached No. 17 in the Emirates ATP Doubles Rankings and won 18 career ATP World Tour doubles titles, including one earlier this season at the Millennium Estoril Open with fellow American Scott Lipsky. Butorac and South African Raven Klaasen reached the finals of the 2014 Australian Open (l. to Lindstedt/Kubot), Butorac's best result at a Grand Slam championship.
But the former Division III national champion said his biggest contributions to tennis took place away from the doubles alleys. Butorac served on the ATP World Tour Player Council for eight years, including two as president.
“Off the court was really where I had some of my best experiences,” he said. “Being a part of the player council, being voted in by my peers to be their voice and to represent them for so long was something that I really took on as a badge of honour, and felt like it really dwarfed anything that I could do on the court.”
Butorac will remain involved in tennis. He will become the USTA's Director of Professional Tennis Operations and Player Relations on 1 October.
Absent from New York for the first in his career, Federer talks about how he has been spending his time at home and also shares his views on the intriguing battle developing between Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray for the No. 1 spot in the Emirates ATP Rankings.
In the first of a special series of interviews with Roger Federer, the Swiss shares his thoughts on the battle for No. 1 between Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.
Wawrinka is through to the quarter-finals in New York for the fourth year in a row and will look to overturn a 2-4 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against 2009 US Open champion del Potro. The Swiss has lost his past four meetings with the towering Argentine, claiming his last victory eight years ago at Wimbledon.
A strong showing in New York will boost Wawrinka’s bid to qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. The Lausanne native started the US Open at seventh in the Emirates ATP Race to London and is bidding to book his place at the season finale for the fourth year in a row.
The 31-year-old Wawrinka improved to an 11-1 mark in his past 12 Grand Slam fourth-round appearances, including runs to the US Open semi-finals in 2013 (l. to Djokovic) and 2015 (l. to Federer). The right-hander is chasing his third Grand Slam championship, having triumphed at the 2014 Australian Open (d. Nadal) and 2015 Roland Garros (d. Djokovic).
Wawrinka had snuck through a dramatic third-round clash with Daniel Evans on Saturday night, saving match point, and didn’t have it all his own way against the No. 63-ranked Marchenko on Louis Armstrong Stadium either.
After relinquishing an early service break, Wawrinka claimed the first set with a break in the 10th game. He raced through the second set in just 22 minutes with two breaks of serve, but was pegged back by Marchenko in the third set. Wawrinka served for the match at 5-4, but was broken after holding a 30/0 lead. Marchenko then saved two break points for a 6-5 lead and went on to take the subsequent tie-break to extend the match.
Marchenko grabbed an early break in the fourth set, but from there it was all Wawrinka. The Swiss regained control and reeled off five of the last six games to seal victory in two hours and 45 minutes.
The 28-year-old Marchenko had won only five Grand Slam main draw matches prior to the US Open and reached the fourth round for the first time after wins over Ivan Dodig, Damir Dzumhur and Nick Kyrgios. His run at the US Open brought to an end a slump of seven successive tour-level defeats.
A LOOK BACK
Aberto do Parana de Tenis (Curitiba, Brazil): Eighth-seed Agustin Velotti needed just 73 minutes to dispatch home hope Andre Ghem 6-0, 6-4 on Sunday, claiming the inaugural title in Curtibia. Velotti continued Argentina's dominance of the ATP Challenger Tour this year, earning the nation's 11th title. Argentines are 11-5 in finals, with seven different players lifting trophies. It was Velotti's first crown in more than three years, having previously won on the clay of Rio de Janeiro in 2013. He is projected to return to the Top 200 of the Emirates ATP Rankings.
Torneo Citta di Como (Como, Italy): Kenny De Schepper notched his fifth ATP Challenger Tour title and first on clay, defeating Marco Cecchinato 2-6, 7-6(0), 7-5 on Sunday in Como. The Frenchman rallied from a set down in both the quarter-finals and final. He is pushing towards a Top 100 return after dropping out of the Top 150 in January.
A LOOK AHEAD
ATP CHALLENGER TOUR ON TWITTER: New in 2016, the ATP Challenger Tour has launched a dedicated Twitter account for the latest news and information about players and events. Follow @ATPChallengerTour at twitter.com/ATPChallengerTour.
"I didn't expect to be in the quarters in my second Grand Slam after my comeback," said del Potro. "I'm doing in a good way because I'm playing good tennis. My level is growing up every day.
The Argentine advanced when Dominic Thiem was forced to retire from their fourth-round clash due to a right leg injury. Del Potro was leading 6-3, 3-2 with a break in the second set.
The 27-year-old del Potro is playing in New York for the first time since 2013. The Tandil native captured his only Grand Slam championship at the US Open in 2009 (d. Federer), but since then his career has been blighted by wrist injuries.
"Of course I had a great memories from 2009, but I'm a completely different person now. I am enjoying even more when I get into the courts than years ago. I just want to play tennis in front of the big crowds. I'm so excited to still be winning matches and maybe be in the top positions in the future."
Del Potro played just four matches and underwent two operations on his left wrist in 2015, before making his return to the ATP World Tour in February of this year. In his first tournament back he reached the semi-finals in Delray Beach (l. to Querrey) and last month he clinched the silver medal at the Rio Olympics, playing Andy Murray in the final.
Del Potro is yet to drop a set at the US Open, dispatching Diego Schwartzman, Steve Johnson and David Ferrer. The right-hander is bidding to reach his first major semi-final since Wimbledon 2013 (l. to Djokovic) and goes on to challenge Stan Wawrinka.
"I'm not worried about my wrist at the moment because I'm practising every day," said del Potro. "I'm playing matches every day. My wrist responds in the good way. I have to hit my backhand even better than today for my next match. But I'm okay with my level. I'm hitting good forehands. My serve is working good. I'm looking forward to playing a good match after tomorrow."
Del Potro is set to return to the Top 100 in the Emirates ATP Rankings after the US Open for the first time since 27 October, 2014.
The 23-year-old Thiem was through to the US Open fourth round for the second time after edging Pablo Carreno Busta on his 23rd birthday on Saturday. The Austrian remains in strong contention to make his debut at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals later in the year.
"It was the knee," said Thiem. "I had some problems with blisters, and maybe because of the compensation the knee started to hurt. I'm going to do an MRI now in the next couple of hours, and then I will have more information about it.
After honing his game in Argentina as a teenager, the work that Next Generation star Jared Donaldson has since done with Taylor and Phil Dent is beginning to pay dividends.
Djokovic moved into the quarter-finals in New York for the 10th consecutive year, beating 21 year old Kyle Edmund 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 in Arthur Ashe Stadium. In the last eight, the defending champion will face ninth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga for the 22nd time. The Serbian leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 15-6, including 11 of their past 12 meetings. Tsonga advanced to the quarter-finals with a four-set win against American Jack Sock.
"I was pleased," said Djokovic. "Very pleased, except a little drop in the level in the third set, midway through the third set. Other than that, everything was great. It's good to play an entire match, considering I had not much time spent on the court in past couple of rounds. So far I only played night sessions. I actually like playing night sessions very much. Hopefully the next one can be also night session."
The two-time US Open champion hadn't played a full match since 29 August, when he beat Pole Jerzy Janowicz 6-3, 5-7, 6-2, 6-1 in the first round. Czech left-hander Jiri Vesely withdrew before their second-round match because of inflammation to his left forearm. Djokovic was leading his third-round match against Mikhail Youzhny 4-2 before the Russian retired because of a back injury.
“This particular situation I [have] never had in my Grand Slam career,” Djokovic, a 14-year tour veteran, had said.
But he looked focused from the start against Edmund, who was playing in the fourth round of a Grand Slam championship for the first time. Djokovic gained two breaks and lost only two points on his first serve in the opener. The second set was more of the same, and after a little more than one hour, Djokovic held a two-set lead against Edmund, No. 84 in the Emirates ATP Rankings.
But Edmund blasted his forehand more and made Djokovic worry in the third set. The Brit, who was playing in Arthur Ashe Stadium for the first time, fell behind an early break but marched back to lead 3-2 before Djokovic took the final set.
"I enjoyed the experience," said Edmund. "It was obviously a tough match. [I] came off a lot happier than I was during the match just because I got something going and started to impose myself a lot better. So that was good. [I've] just a lot of learning to do from it, which is a really good thing. To play the World No. 1 on the biggest tennis court in the world, doesn't get much better than that. It's been a great tournament for me. Loads and loads of positives, the way I've been playing. The good thing is, I feel like there's a lot of stuff I can improve on and get better, as well, and the level I'm playing at."
Djokovic's left wrist, which he said had bothered him last month, looked fine but the 29 year old received treatment on his right arm for the second match of the tournament. Early on in the third set, a trainer massaged Djokovic's right elbow. A trainer also had treated Djokovic's right arm during his first-round match.
Australian great Rod Laver discusses the strongest contenders for the men's singles at this year's US Open.
Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan have qualified for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, to be held at The O2 in London from 13-20 November, as a result of reaching the US Open quarter-finals on Sunday. The American twins, who have captured the prestigious season finale crown on four occasions, join Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut as the second team to book their spot.
The five-time former US Open titlists moved a step closer to their 17th Grand Slam championship by beating Spaniards Fernando Verdasco and David Marrero 2-6, 6-3, 7-5. They won the US Open in 2005, 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014. Now into their 11th US Open quarter-final, the third-seeded Bryans will compete against eighth-seeded Spaniards Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez or Brazilians Thomaz Bellucci and Marcelo Demonliner.
Aussie Chris Guccione and Brazilian Andre Sa also moved into the last eight on Sunday in New York. Guccione/Sa prevailed against Spaniard Nicolas Almagro and Dominican Victor Estrella Burgos 7-6(2), 6-2.
Spaniards Pablo Carreno Busta and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez knocked out Americans Nicholas Monroe and Donald Young 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-3. The Spaniards will face No. 12 seeds Lukasz Kubot of Poland and Alexander Peya of Austria in the quarter-finals. Kubot/Peya received a walkover when Brit Daniel Evans and Aussie Nick Kyrgios withdrew.