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2020 US Open: The story so far

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Roar Guru
6th September, 2020
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As we enter the second week of the 2020 US Open, let’s take the time to look back at how the tournament has unfolded so far.

The economic damage that COVID-19 has caused threw what would normally be the year’s final Grand Slam tournament into severe doubt, but after approval from New York governor Andrew Cuomo, the US Open was given the green light to go ahead, but with no fans permitted to step foot into Flushing Meadows.

Due to concerns surrounding the pandemic, among other issues, several top players chose not to take place, including both defending champions Rafael Nadal and Bianca Andreescu, as well as Roger Federer, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Ashleigh Barty, Simona Halep and Belinda Bencic, among others.

Nadal and Andreescu’s absences meant this was to be the first major since the 2003 US Open in which neither defending champion returned to defend their title the following year.

It was also the first major since the 1999 US Open not to feature either Nadal or Federer, who is taking the rest of the year off to recover from a knee injury he first suffered at the Australian Open in January.

But despite the absences of so many players, this year’s US Open has not been without its starpower, with Novak Djokovic, Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas, the Williams sisters and Angelique Kerber among those to commit to playing the event.

Novak Djokovic plays a backhand

Novak Djokovic (Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

As expected, Djokovic has reached the second week at Flushing Meadows and will this morning (AEST) shoot for a place in the quarter-finals for the thirteenth consecutive time (he missed the tournament in 2017 due to injury) when he comes up against Pablo Carreno Busta.

The Djoker has been ruthless in his bid for a fourth US Open title, winning his first three matches without losing a set as he firms in favouritism for the title, having seen his biggest threat in his half of the draw, Stefanos Tsitsipas, crash out in stunning fashion on Friday night.

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The next-highest seed in the top half of the draw, Alexander Zverev, needed four sets to win each of his opening three matches, but with Tsitsipas out of the way, there are no excuses for him to not reach the final four at Flushing Meadows for the first time.

The German endured a major scare when his third round match against Adrian Mannarino was delayed by three hours owing to a “collaborative dialogue with health officials” as Mannarino was revealed to be one of the few that was in contact with Benoit Paire, who was withdrawn after testing positive to coronavirus.

Jordan Thompson is one of two Australian men to reach the last sixteen, and will fancy his chances of reaching a Grand Slam quarter-final for the first time when he comes up against Tsitsipas’ third round conqueror, Borna Coric, this morning (AEST).

The Sydneysider was joined by Alex de Minaur, who overcame a mid-match meltdown and losing the second set 6-0 to defeat Russian 11th seed Karen Khachanov in five sets overnight.

Currently living in Spain, de Minaur will next face Vasek Posposil, who backed up his victory over Milos Raonic by upsetting Spanish eighth seed Roberto Bautista Agut in five sets, also having to come from two-sets-to-one down to do so.

Alex De Minaur

Alex De Minaur (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)

Second seed Dominic Thiem faced a serious test coming up against 2014 champion Marin Cilic, but emerged victorious in four sets to advance to the last sixteen where he will face Canadian 15th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime.

The women’s draw was rocked early by the shock second round exit by Karolina Pliskova, who was made the top seed due to the world’s top two, Ashleigh Barty and Simona Halep, electing not to participate.

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The Czech right-hander’s wait for a maiden major title will continue for at least another month, after she was upset by former French top ten player Caroline Garcia in the second round.

However, some of the biggest names still remain in the draw, namely Serena Williams, Angelique Kerber, Naomi Osaka, Sofia Kenin and Victoria Azarenka.

Pliskova’s early exit leaves Kerber as the favourite from this quarter of the draw to reach the last four, with eighth-seeded Croat Petra Martic now the highest seed remaining.

In the second quarter, Naomi Osaka and Petra Kvitova can set up a quarter-final clash against each other if they win their respective fourth round matches against Anett Kontaveit and Shelby Rogers.

Recapping overnight results now, and Williams emerged from a potentially tricky clash against compatriot Sloane Stephens victorious, coming from a set down to win in three sets, the scores in the final two sets being 6-2, 6-2.

She now comes up against a familiar opponent in Maria Sakkari, to whom the American lost in the third round at the Western and Southern Open last week, and so will be eager to reverse her defeat to the Greek rising star.

Sakkari needed only 55 minutes to dismiss 22nd seeded American Amanda Anisimova from the tournament, dashing the 19-year-old’s dreams of reaching the last sixteen at Flushing Meadows for the first time.

Azarenka, twice runner-up to Williams at the US Open, continued her recent good form since the season resumption, defeating Poland’s Iga Swiatek in straight sets to progress to a fourth round clash with Karolina Muchova, the first-round conqueror of Venus Williams.

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The Belarusian, formerly ranked world number one, has now won eight consecutive matches; this does not include the Western and Southern Open final in which Naomi Osaka withdrew before the championship match due to a hamstring injury.

Nonetheless, that title was the 31-year-old’s first since she won Miami all the way back in 2016, breaking a title drought of nearly 52 months, and first since she became a mother in December 2016.

Another mother making a comeback to the tennis circuit, Tsvetana Pironkova, continued her fairytale run through the tournament, backing up her victory over two-time major champion Garbine Muguruza with another straight-sets victory, this time over 18th seed Donna Vekic.

The former Wimbledon semi-finalist has had three years out of the game after giving birth in April 2018, during which she also suffered from a shoulder injury.

To reach the fourth round in her comeback major is an impressive feat considering the time she’s had out of the game. This is also her equal-best result at Flushing Meadows, having reached this stage in 2012 where she lost to Ana Ivanovic in straight sets.

Petra Kvitova

Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic (Photo by Fred Lee/Getty Images)

Alize Cornet progressed to the fourth round, after 2017 finalist Madison Keys was forced to abort the match at a set and 3-2 down. The American had been in impressive form in her opening two matches, winning both without losing more than two games in any set.

16th seed Elise Mertens advanced to the last sixteen and next faces reigning Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin, who defeated Tunisian Ons Jabeur at a major for the second time this year, for a last eight berth.

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The fourth round in both the men’s and women’s tournaments will get underway this morning (AEST), with title favourites Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka in action, as well as German fifth seed Alexander Zverev, 2016 women’s champion Angelique Kerber and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova.

Matches to watch on Day 7

Arthur Ashe Stadium
Day session – play starts at 12:00pm (2:00am AEST)
[23] Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) vs [8] Petra Martic (CRO)
Not before 2:00pm (4:00am AEST)
[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs [20] Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP)

Night session – play starts at 7:00pm (9:00am AEST)
[12] Denis Shapovalov (CAN) vs [7] David Goffin (BEL)
[4] Naomi Osaka (JPN) vs [14] Anett Kontaveit (EST)

Louis Armstrong Stadium
Play starts at 11:00am (1:00am AEST)
[28] Jennifer Brady (USA) vs [17] Angelique Kerber (GER)
Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (ESP) vs [5] Alexander Zverev (GER)
Not before 3:00pm (5:00am AEST)
Shelby Rogers (USA) vs [6] Petra Kvitova (CZE)
Not before 5:00pm (7:00am AEST)
[27] Borna Coric (CRO) vs Jordan Thompson (AUS)

Please note, there are no juniors competitions this year.