In his search for a historic title at the United States Open, Novak Djokovic rallied this Saturday from a set against the Japanese Kei Nishikori and was planted in the round of 16 of the New York Grand Slam, where Andreescu and the young woman also advanced Raducanu.
The world number one is four games away from reaching his 21st Grand Slam, beating Federer and Nadal, and completing a full of big tournament triumphs in the 2021 season, an achievement unprecedented since Rod Laver in 1969.
This Saturday, Flushing Meadows was still recovering from the volcanic day of the previous day, in which the candidates Stefanos Tsitsipas and Naomi Osaka, current champion, fell before the Spanish Carlos Alcaraz and the Canadian Leylah Fernandez, both 18 years old.
To the astonishment of the Arthur Ashe main court crowd, Djokovic raised the possibility of an even bigger earthquake when he lost the first set to Nishikori 6-7 (7/4) but then rebuilt with 6-3, 6- partials. 3 and 6-2 in three hours and 32 minutes of play.
«I did not start very well, I was very passive. I had a hard time finding the rhythm. Then I played faster and more aggressive, “explained Djokovic. “At some point I was not at my best but staying focused is what matters in the end.”
With an unusual apathy and mistake at number one, ‘Nole’ gave the first set to Nishikori, who occupies number 56 in the ATP and whom he had defeated in his last 16 meetings.
Unlike the candidates eliminated on Friday, ‘Nole’ did not lose his composure and recovered by breaking Nishikori’s serve early in the second set, after a spectacular point that he celebrated with a cry of rage.
Djokovic could not activate his most devastating version throughout the game but regained his strength and benefited from an increasingly erratic Nishikori.
This season, Djokovic has emerged victorious from seven Grand Slam crosses in which he lost the first set.
His next opponent will come out of Saturday’s meeting between 21st seed Russian Aslan Karatsev and American Jenson Brooksby.
– Italians to eighths –
Italian tennis placed two representatives in the knockout stages of the US Open this Saturday for the first time.
Matteo Berrettini, Djokovic’s victim in the final of last Wimbledon, was the first to get the ticket by beating Belarusian Ilya Ivashka 6-7 (5/7), 6-2, 6-4, 2-6 and 6- 3.
The Italian, a semi-finalist at Flushing Meadows in 2019, battled for 3 hours and 46 minutes to overtake the Belarusian, who was in good shape after his win last week at Winston-Salem.
Another Italian, the promising 20-year-old Jannik Sinner, also reached the fourth round, defeating veteran Frenchman Gael Monfils in a fast-paced round trip and three hours and 42 minutes.
The tall Sinner, runner-up at the last Miami Masters 1000, finally won 7-6 (7/1), 6-2, 4-6, 4-6 and 6-4.
– Andreescu returns to the second round –
In the women’s category, Canadian Bianca Andreescu clearly beat Belgian Greet Minnen 6-1, 6-2 and reached the eighth of a Grand Slam for the first time since her surprising victory at the US Open in 2019.
After a blank 2020 with various injuries, Andreescu has not been able to lift a trophy this season or shine in a Grand Slam but in Flushing Meadows he has been advancing with solvency after the troubles of his debut against the Swiss Viktorija Golubic.
Her rival in the round of 16 will be the Greek Maria Sakkari, who defeated the Czech Petra Kvitova 6-4, 6-3.
One of the exhibitions of the day was carried out by the promising British tennis player Emma Raducanu, 18, who swept the Spanish Sara Sorribes 6-0 and 6-1.
The young woman, number 150 in the WTA ranking, will thus play her second consecutive round of 16 of a Grand Slam tournament, after last Wimbledon she made herself known to the tennis elite.
Saturday night’s session will see the duel of the world number one, the Australian Ashleigh Barty, against the American Shelby Rogers and the new Olympic champion Alexander Zverev, fourth seed, against the American Jack Sock.(AFP)