Ruud Is A US Open Quarterfinalist For First Time

Casper Ruud (photo: Darren Carroll/USTA)

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON, September 5, 2022 (by Michael Dickens)

After being pushed to five sets on Friday, Casper Ruud’s consistency rewarded him with a fourth-round victory over French lucky loser Corentin Moutet, 6-1, 6-2, 6-7 (4), 6-2, to advance to the quarterfinal round of the US Open for the first time.

After beating No. 29 seed Tommy Paul of the United States in a five-setter on Friday, the World No. 7 and fifth-seeded Ruud had an easier go against the 112th-ranked Moutet, despite a slight wobble in the third set. However, the Norwegian recovered nicely and saved three break points in the fourth set and was the steadier player when it counted most during the three-hour and 22-minute contest on Arthur Ashe Stadium. It was the first time that Ruud had played on the sport’s biggest stage.

“It has been a dream of mine to play on this court at least one time in my career,” Ruud said during his on-court interview after beating Moutet to advance to Tuesday’s quarterfinal round against No. 13 seed Matteo Berrettini of Italy, who was playing at the same time next door on Louis Armstrong Stadium.

“Now, I have a win here as well, so I can tell my future kids and grandkids that I played here and that will be a fun story to tell. It was amazing.”

Ruud hit 43 winners to 39 unforced errors, converted seven of 17 break-point opportunities against Moutet and outpointed his opponent 131-106.

“I had a great start and the [two] sets that I won were not showing he real result,” Ruud explained. “It was much tougher. Corentin is a very tricky player. He has all the shots, runs well. He can produce trick shots and everything. I really needed to stay focused and stay sharp and I was playing really well until I got broke back in the third, which was frustrating.

“He raised his level a bit. But [the] fourth set I was able to break him a couple of times and serve good enough luckily. I didn’t change much but I was able to dictate the game more.”

With his fourth-round victory secured, Ruud improved to 42-15 this season and still has a chance of reaching No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings  if he wins the US Open title. With earlier wins over Stan Wawrinka, Botic van de Zandschulp and Pedro Cachin, Moutet became the first lucky loser to reach the fourth round of the US Open. He will leave New York with a live ranking of No. 80.

Berrettini goes the distance to beat ‘Foki’

No. 13 seed Matteo Berrettini of Italy survived a five-set, three-hour and 45-minute battle against Spain’s charismatic Alejandro Davidovich Fokina to advance to the quarterfinals against No. 5 seed Casper Ruud. It’s the fifth straight quarterfinal appearance in a major for the Rome native.

In a match which both players had victory in their grasp, it was the World No. 14 Berrettini who prevailed over No. 39 Davidovich Fokina, 3-6, 7-6 (2), 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, overcoming a deficit of a set and break down. By the end, it was Berrettini who found rhythm behind his serve – which accounted for 18 aces and 49 winners – and used his huge forehand to his advantage.

Berrettini broke Davidovich Fokina three times in the final set as the Spaniard was hampered by knee pain, which occurred when he twisted his knee while serving at 3-2 in the decider. The victory improved Berrettini’s five-set record at the US Open to 3-0.

“I’m really proud because I didn’t start the match the way I wanted to,” Berrettini explained during his on-court interview. “I was down a set and a break … and I found the right energy. I have to say I was a little bit tired in the fourth, and he was playing unbelievable tennis. So, I lost the fourth, and I was like, ‘OK, now I’m going to give everything’.”

Berrettini, who enjoys playing in New York where he is 16-4 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and reached the 2019 semifinals, said the changing conditions have challenged him.

“I like to play in these conditions, I love to play here in New York, but it’s changing a lot,” Berrettini said. “Two days ago against [Andy] Murray it wasn’t humid, so it changed a lot. This morning, I was sweating. I was like ‘Wow!’ Today, I had to drink a lot [of fluids] and that’s what I did. I did a couple of weeks training really hard before the tournament, so I was ready – and I guess it paid off.”

Khachanov takes out Carreño Busta, Kyrgios next

In a heavy-hitting match between two of last year’s Olympic medalists, No. 27 seed Karen Khachanov of Russia (silver) scored a gritty 4-6, 6-3, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 victory over two-time US Open semifinalist and this year’s 12th seed Pablo Carreño Busta of Spain (bronze). It marked the fourth straight time that Khachanov has prevailed against Carreño Busta. He leads their head-to-head series 6-3.

The three-hour and 21-minute fourth-round match on Louis Armstrong Stadium marked just the second time in his last 12 matches against Top-15 opposition that the 26-year-old Khachanov has won. He is through to his third major quarterfinal and first at the US Open.

Khachanov hit 11 aces and 43 winners overall against Carreño Busta and made 32 unforced errors. He converted five of 15 break points and outpointed the Spaniard 140-121 to advance against No. 23 seed Nick Kyrgios of Australia, who upset defending champion and No. 1 seed Daniil Medvedev of Russia, 7-6 (11), 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, in two hours and 53 minutes on Arthur Ashe Stadium Sunday night to reach his first US Open quarterfinal.

Kyrgios, 26-5 since the start of June, struck 21 aces and hit 53 winners to 38 unforced errors. Medvedev countered with 22 aces and 49 winners and made 19 unforced errors. Kyrgios outpointed Medvedev 128-119.

“What a place to do it,” Kyrgios said during his on-court interview with ESPN’s Patrick McEnroe. “Packed house in New York!”

By losing, Medvedev will drop from No. 1 when the Pepperstone ATP Rankings are updated after the conclusion of the US Open. Either Rafael Nadal, Carlos Alcaraz or Casper Ruud will become the new World No. 1.

“I want to go all the way. Hopefully, it is possible,” Kyrgios added.

Gauff electrifies Ashe crowd, reaches third major quarterfinal

American 12th seed Coco Gauff reached her third major quarterfinal and first away from Paris with her 7-5, 7-5 victory over No. 36 Zhang Shuai of China Sunday afternoon on Arthur Ashe Stadium. It was a meeting between the youngest and oldest women remaining in the singles draw as the second week of the year’s final major began.

The athletic 18-year-old Gauff struck 33 winners and overcame 25 unforced errors during the one-hour and 56-minute match that began with the roof open but finished with it closed after rain began to fall early in the second set.

Despite being outplayed by Zhang throughout much of the opening set, somehow, Gauff overcame a 4-5 deficit and won nine of 12 points and three straight games to win the set – including a down-the-line backhand winner on set point that brought the crowd to its feet.

In the second set, the World No. 12 Gauff came back from down 3-5 by playing some of her best tennis. By the time she secured match point against Zhang, 33, Gauff was overcome by the energy provided by nearly 24,000 fans – most whom were cheering for her.

“It feels insane,” Gauff said during her on-court interview with ESPN‘s Bethanie Mattek-Sands. “An entire stadium chanting my name. I was trying not to smile on my bench at the last changeover. I was trying to stay in the moment. In my head I was smiling. I can’t believe you guys were changing like that. That was crazy.”

Garcia back in Grand Slam quarterfinal for first time since 2017

France’s Caroline Garcia had quite the adventure closing out her 6-4, 6-1 fourth-round win over Alison Riske-Amritraj of the United States on Louis Armstrong Stadium Sunday afternoon. The No. 17 seed needed five match points on her serve to seal the 84-minute victory. However, by the end, Air Caro was in full flight – and it was a happy flight, indeed.

The 28-year-old Garcia, who won a WTA 1000 title in Cincinnati as a qualifier in the lead up to the US Open, picked up her 12th consecutive victory and reached her second major quarterfinal – and first since Roland Garros in 2017 – with her convincing win over the No. 29 seed Riske-Amritraj.

“I’m really trying to play aggressive, going for my shots even when I’m feeling tight or when I don’t feel it. It’s how I improved so much the last couple of months and I really enjoy playing like that. I’m having fun, yeah!” Garcia said during her on-court interview after beating Riske-Amritraj, one of four American women to reach the fourth round.

Krejcikova and Sinikaova, highest remaining women’s doubles seeds, advance

No. 3 seeds Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova, both of the Czech Republic, are vying to win a career Grand Slam in women’s doubles and a US Open title would be their 6th major together. The Czech team are the highest seeds remaining in the women’s draw following the first-round departure of No. 2 seeds Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula from the United States then the withdrawal of top seeds Veronika Kudermetova of Russia and Belgium’s Elise Mertens following an injury suffered by Mertens after their first-round win.

On Sunday, Krejcikova and Siniakova eliminated No. 15 seeds Shuko Aoyama of Japan and Chan Hao-Ching of Taiwan, 6-2, 6-0, to advance to the quarterfinal round. Next, they will face No. 5 seeds Gabriela Dabrowski of Canada and Giuliana Olmos of Mexico, who defeated No. 9 seeds Asia Muhammad of the United States and Ena Shibahara of Japan, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (8).

Sock and Fernandez: Everyone’s new favorite mixed doubles team

Jack Sock of the United States and Leylah Fernandez of Canada have proven they’ve got the right stuff. On Sunday, they won their round of 16 match over Max Purcell of Australia and Gabriela Dabrowski of Canada, 6-4, 7-6 (4), to advance to the quarterfinals.

Sunday’s US Open results

Monday’s US Open order of play

By the numbers

• With 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams headed toward retirement, the active WTA player with the most major titles is Venus Williams with seven.

Corentin Moutet is 0-8 in matches and 2-20 in sets against Top-10 opponents following his loss to World No. 7 Casper Ruud.

Coco Gauff is the youngest American woman to reach the quarterfinals at the US Open since Melanie Oudin in 2009 (17 years, 356 days).

“Quotable …”

“I saw him first time in Indian Wells. It was last year. Surprised me, because he was following me, and he said, ‘I love you, you’re the sneaky player. I love how you play.’

“Yesterday when I saw him, it was like, ‘Hi, how are you? It was nice to see you.’ He was very happy, he urged me, talked about Wimbledon. We talked a little bit about how I inspire Africa, and he was very satisfied with that and he pushed me to continue more and really motivated me.”

– Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur on her meet and greet with British singer Seal, a dedicated tennis fan – and fan of the No. 5 seed Jabeur.

“I think fear is part of my life, for sure, and my career, as well, and I think everybody’s life. For me, fear is a big engine, it’s something that helps me getting up in the morning, and achieving goals. Without fear I wouldn’t be here.

“Obviously, you have to be able to kind of like handle it and overcome it in a way. Otherwise, it’s gonna be tough; you’re not gonna enjoy it.

“I always say when I’m not tight, when I don’t have fear to lose, or I don’t have something I can miss, I never feel good. When I feel [fear], I don’t like it, but I know eventually I’m gonna like it. It’s kind of like screwed up, but it works.”

Matteo Berrettini of Italy, during his post-match press conference, describing how fear drives him toward success.