Another Brady Milestone In A Breakthrough Season

WASHINGTON, September 7, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)

Jennifer Brady has achieved another milestone in what has been her breakthrough season.

On a bright and sunny Sunday afternoon, the No. 28 seed Brady beat 2016 champion Angelique Kerber, 6-1, 6-4, to reach her first Grand Slam singles quarterfinal at the US Open.

The World No. 41 Brady, in her first meeting against the 17th seed and former No. 1 Kerber, broke the three-time Grand Slam champion’s serve four times, crushed 25 winners against 14 unforced errors with her big-ball hitting attack, and caused Kerber to commit 20 unforced errors during their 88-minute match that was played on Louis Armstrong Stadium.

The 5-foot-10 Brady, a native of Harrisburg, Pa. who now resides in Orlando, Fla., became the first former collegiate tennis player to reach the US Open women’s singles quarterfinals since Gigi Fernandez (Clemson) in 1994. She played two seasons at UCLA from 2013-15, earning two singles All-America honors and helping to lead the Bruins to the 2014 NCAA team championship.

Wow, it feels great,” said Brady during an on-court interview, reacting to what she had just accomplished with her victory over Kerber. “I’m so happy.”

Brady, 25, also reached the fourth round of the US Open in her tournament debut in 2017 – after reaching the same at the Australian Open that year in her Grand Slam debut. Although this was her first time back in a major round of 16 since then, she exuded confidence and kept Kerber off balance throughout much of the match.

In the first set, Brady jumped ahead 3-1 and converted both of her break-point opportunities while hitting just three unforced errors. She pounded upon the 23rd-ranked Kerber’s weak second serves and wrapped up the opening set in 22 minutes. Then, Brady moved out to a 4-2 lead in the second set and despite requiring treatments to her left thigh, she maintained her focus to the end.

“I thought I played a spectacular first set and I don’t think I made very many errors,” she said. “In the second set, I tried to focus on every single point, not really get ahead of myself. I got a little frustrated, I felt a little pain in my leg. But, I just really wanted to close it out in two sets. 

“Angie is a great player who makes you fight for every single point. … I’m proud of myself, I stuck to the game plan. I just tried to stay ahead in the points.”

With a career-best major result achieved, it continues Brady’s good fortune this season. It began before the coronavirus pandemic hiatus with a pair of Top 10 wins and a first-time Premier semifinal. Since returning last month, Brady won her first WTA tour-level singles title in Lexington, Ky. Her win over Kerber improved her 2020 win-loss record to 21-6.

This year, Brady has beaten a who’s-who of women’s tennis: World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty, Garbiñe Muguruza, Elina Svitolina, Maria Sharapova and Coco Gauff.

After Sunday’s match, Brady drew high praise from ESPN analyst and former player Mary Jo Fernandez, who said, “She is the best player in the draw that I’ve seen.”

Now, Brady is into her first major quarterfinal without losing a set and her serve has only been broken four times through four rounds. She will play No. 23 seed Yulia Putintseva from Kazakhstan in Tuesday’s quarterfinal round, whom she is 0-2 lifetime.

Putintseva relied upon a variety of slice, spin and drop shots to upset eighth seed Petra Martic of Croatia, 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 in two hours and 37 minutes. She hit 26 winners and withstood everything the 15th-ranked Martic, who finished with 40 winners but committed 40 unforced errors, could hit her way.

The 35th-ranked Putintseva is twice a Roland Garros quarterfinalist, but this is the first time she’s advanced into the last eight at Flushing Meadows. She’s also the first Kazakh to advance to the US Open quarterfinals. The last from her country to reach the fourth round in this tournament was Yaroslava Shvedova in 2016.

Rogers saves four match points, upsets Kvitova

Unseeded American Shelby Rogers fought off four match points and won a final-set tie-break en route to a 7-6 (5), 3-6, 7-6 (6) upset of sixth seed Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic Sunday afternoon in Louis Armstrong Stadium. The 93rd-ranked Rogers advanced to her first US Open quarterfinal and second major overall (Roland Garros 2016) with her unexpected victory.

The Rogers-Kvitova clash lasted two hours and 39 minutes and it featured Rogers saving three match points on her serve at 5-4 in the third set. Then she saved another on Kvitova’s serve at 6-5 in the decisive tie-break.

Rogers drew laughter from the media assembled virtually for her press conference. “Day 72 in the bubble,” she joked. “It’s been a long time here in New York. I’m happy to be sticking around for some more.”

Then, in a more serious tone, Rogers reflected on what reaching the US Open quarterfinals meant to her: “I knew I could always do it. It was a matter of head down, working hard to get back to that point. Being here, I want to push past it, really see what I’m made of.”

Next, Rogers will face fourth seed Naomi Osaka of Japan. The 2018 US Open champion defeated No. 14 seed Anett Kontaveit from Estonia, 6-3, 6-4, in 72 minutes on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Osaka hit 21 winners to 18 unforced errors and lost just five points on her first serve. Kontaveit finished with 16 winners but also made 22 unforced errors. She was unable to break Osaka’s serve in either set.

“If I’m reflecting on attitude, I’m pretty sure it was up there with my top matches of this short year,” said Osaka afterward.

Zverev reaches first US Open quarterfinals

No. 5 seed Alexander Zverev wrapped up a very one-sided win over unseeded Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain, 6-2, 6-2, 6-1, in one hour and 34 minutes on Louis Armstrong Stadium to reach the US Open quarterfinals for the first time.

The 23-year-old Zverev on his first match point responded to an underarm serve by Davidovich Fokina and hit a forehand return winner to end the contest.

Zverev, who is the first German since Tommy Haas to reach the final eight in 13 years, took care of business from the outset and was never seriously threatened. In his first straight-set win of the fortnight after three straight four-set matches, he struck 38 winners, served 18 aces and saved six of seven break points he faced as he now has advanced to the quarterfinals or better in four of his last nine majors.

“In the third set, I saw that he slowed down a little bit, especially on his serve,” said Zverev in describing the physical condition of Davidovich Fokina. “He couldn’t push off that leg any more, but I think the first two sets were pretty good quality by me to be honest. There are still things to work on, but I am in the quarterfinals and that can only be a good thing.”

Zverev will face No. 27 seed Borna Coric, who dominated unseeded Jordan Thompson from Australia in a 7-5, 6-1, 6-3 win that lifted the Croatian into his first Grand Slam quarterfinal.

“I started the match very good,” said Coric, who survived a five-set ordeal by saving six match points two nights ago to beat Stefanos Tsitsipas in the third round. During an on-court interview, he added: “From 5-3 [in the first set], I maybe choked a little bit, but that’s normal. This is the biggest chance in my career to get to the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam. I was more relaxed after the first set and started to play much better.”

Coric will take a 3-1 head-to-head lead into his match against Zverev on Tuesday. They haven’t played each other in two years. “I was watching all of his matches [this week] and I thought he was playing some of his best tennis,” said Coric. “It’s going to be a very interesting match.”

Shapovalov first Canadian man to reach US Open quarterfinals

No. 12 seed Denis Shapovalov fired 13 aces and hit 51 winners en route to a four-set victory over seventh seed David Goffin of Belgium on Arthur Ashe Stadium Sunday night.

With his 6-7 (0), 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 fourth-round victory, Shapovalov made history by becoming the first Canadian man in the Open Era to reach the US Open singles quarterfinals.

The 21-year-old Shapovalov controlled the net during his three hour and 29-minute match, converting 33 of 47 opportunities. His aggressive play caused Goffin to commit 44 unforced errors. Shapovalov outpointed Goffin 152-134.

Next, Shapovalov will face No. 20 seed Pablo Carreño Busta of Spain, who advanced by default over Novak Djokovic, after the World No. 1 struck a lineswoman with a hit ball.

During his on-court interview after the match, Shapovalov was asked about the Djokovic incident. He showed some empathy, saying: “I just feel terrible for everybody. … I saw that obviously there was zero intention to go after her. It was just a fluke and accidents like that happens. Same thing with me.”

Shapovalov is still alive in doubles, teamed with Rohan Bopanna of India. The pair will play their quarterfinal match on Monday against Jean-Julien Rojer of the Netherlands and Horia Tecau from Romania.

Around the US Open

• Third seeds Rajeev Ram of the United States and Joe Salisbury from Great Britain, the reigning Australian Open champions, reached the men’s doubles semifinals with a 6-2, 7-6 (5) win over Americans Christopher Eubanks and Mackenzie McDonald. It improved their Grand Slam record to 9-0. Next, they will face the eighth seeds Wesley Koolhof of the Netherlands and Nikola Mektic of Croatia, who defeated Sander Gille and Jordan Vliegen, both from Belgium, 7-6 (6), 6-3.

• In women’s doubles quarterfinals, fourth seeds Kveta Pesche of the Czech Republic and Demi Schuurs from the Netherlands, who were champions last week in the Western & Southern Open, were upset by unseeded Russian pair Anna Blinkova and Veronika Kudermetova, 6-4, 6-2. Then, unseeded Laura Siegemund from Germany and Vera Zvonareva of Russia upset the defending champions Elise Mertens of Belgium and Aryna Sabalenka from Belarus, seeded second, 6-4, 7-6 (1).

Sunday’s results

Monday’s order of play