Originally Published: On the Baseline
Flushing Meadows, NY— The first week of the U.S. Open was filled with breakthroughs,
retirements, dances, and everything in between.
Azarenka, the No. 1 seed at the U.S. Open, has dropped the fewest number of games (10)
over the first four rounds, and has the best W/L percentage on hard courts: 29-2 (93.5%).
She’ll be tough to beat heading into the second week.
Breakthrough tournament for Anna Tatishvili? Absolutely. The world No. 73 has never
made it past the first round at the U.S. Open. Despite losing to Azarenka in the fourth round, she is the first Georgian woman to make it to the fourth round since Leila Meskhi in 1994.
Caroline Wozniacki, the No. 8 seed and former No. 1 came into the U.S. Open with a knee injury. On Tuesday, she fell in her first round to world No. 96 Irina-Camelia Begu. Without question, Wozniacki is experiencing the bleakest season of her career, with first round losses at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, and has not yet won a title this year. She was defending a lot of points, so she will fall outside the top 10.
Dominating. That sums up Serena Williams at the U.S. Open. It took Serena just 13 minutes to gain a 4-0 over Coco Vandeweghe in her first round match. Since then, her wins have become almost routine. For the second year in a row, the three-time U.S. Open champ is the only American woman to advance past the third round, including a straight-sets win over Ekaterina Makarova.
The end has sadly come for Kim Clijsters’ career. On Wednesday, Laura Robson pulled off a surprising, second round upset over the three-time U.S. Open champ. A changing of the guard could not have been more evident in any other match during this first week.
Four of the final 16 players had never reached the fourth round in a Grand Slam, and are all unseeded: Hlavackova, Robson, Tatishvili and Vinci. Of the four, Vinci and Hlavackova are the only two remaining in the tournament.
Giant Killers. There have been a few this first week: Laura Robson (d. Li Na, Clijsters),
Marion Bartoli (d. Petra Kvitova), Sloane Stephens (d. Francesca Sciavone).
Andrea Hlavackova defeated No.14 seed Maria Kirilenko in a tough, 3-setter on Saturday, resulting in the best win of her career. Prior to the U.S. Open, the No. 82-ranked Czech had never even played the main draw at the U.S. Open.
Italians – there are two remaining in the tournament in singles: Roberta Vinci and Sara
Jelena Jankovic lost to No. 2 seed, Aggie Radwanska on Saturday in straight sets. Aggie has advanced to the fourth round in singles for the first time since 2008. Jankovic, the U.S. Open runner-up in 2008, racked up 37 unforced errors.
Angelique Kerber, last year’s U.S. Open semifinalist, has advanced to the fourth round,
where she will take on Sara Errani, who made a surprise run to the finals of the French Open this year, losing to Maria Sharapova.
Laura Robson is playing the best tennis of her young career. The 18-year-old Brit faced
a tough draw, but surprisingly, she defeated Kim Clijsters, and then ousted No. 9 seed, Li
Na in the third round—the first top 10 win of her career. Robson is the youngest player in
the top 100. She hasn’t made it past the second round in any previous Grand Slam, but this
time, advanced to the fourth, before her dream run ended on Sunday night against defending champ, Sam Stosur.
Maria Sharapova hadn’t faced any player ranked higher than No. 78 in the world, until she met Nadia Petrova in the fourth round. A rain delay halted play on Sunday night with Petrova leading 2-0 in the third set, but when play resumed, Sharapova prevailed, advancing to the quarterfinals.
Nine match points. That’s how many it took for Sam Stosur to close out her match vs. Laura Robson, and advance to the quarterfinals. She will play Azarenka in the quarterfinals.
One lefthander remains in the draw: Angelique Kerber.
Petra Kvitova, winner of the U.S. Open Series, ran out of gas against Marion Bartoli in the fourth round. Bartoli handed Kvitova a third set bagel to advance to the quarterfinals for the first time in her career. She will take on Sharapova in the quarterfinals.
Without question, one of the most unexpected moments of the first week happened on
Wednesday, when Sam Stosur broke out into a dance after her win over Edina Gallovits-Hall in the second round. It’s being called the “Stosur Shuffle.”
Round of 16: Only five players have advanced to the second week without losing a set:
Azarenka, Petrova, Sharapova, Stosur, and Serena Williams.
Sam Stosur – the reigning U.S. Open champion hasn’t dropped a set, and is looking to be in good shape to defend her title, if she can manage her nerves in clutch moments.
Tests continue for Ana Ivanovic, as she advances to the fourth round. If she can keep her
momentum going, she’ll have opportunities to regain confidence, and potentially re-enter the top 10. Time will tell if she can hold it together when she faces her familiar foes.
Unforced errors for Venus Williams: 60 (vs. Angelique Kerber) on Thursday night. Ivanovic was a close second in her match against Stephens, with 56.
Venus Williams: This time last year, she was diagnosed with Sjorgen’s Syndrome, but has
managed to get her symptoms under control, and is back inside the top 50 (No. 46). She had a great win over Bethany-Mattek Sands in the first round, but in one of the most riveting night matches of the first week, Venus suffered a painful, three-set loss to Angelique Kerber in the second round. She had a 4-2 lead in the third set, and lost it. This was her second straight, early round exit from the U.S. Open.
The Williams sisters are still winning in doubles, advancing to the third round.
X-Factor. Sloane Stephens has it. The 19-year-old scored the biggest win of her career in
the first round, defeating Francesca Schiavone in straight sets. On Saturday night, under the glaring lights of Arthur Ashe stadium, she was ousted in the third round by Ana Ivanovic, a repeat of last year’s result.
Yum is the best word to describe Maria Sharapova’s new business venture, Sugarpova: A line of super sweet candy, which Maria unveiled to the public at the start of this week.
Jie Zheng (No. 28 seed) advanced to the third round, her best performance since 2009, before losing to Azarenka.