Coco Gauff shows why she is one the favourites at the US Open with a gutsy win over Caroline Wozniacki to reach the quarter-finals.
Coco Gauff shows why she is one the favourites at the US Open with a gutsy win over Caroline Wozniacki to reach the quarter-finals.
Revenge was sweet for Ben Shelton on Sunday at the US Open where the 20-year-old defeated countryman Tommy Paul to become the youngest American man in more than 20 years to reach the quarter-finals in New York.
Shelton lost against Paul in four sets in the Australian Open quarter-finals in January, but ensured history did not repeat itself at the final major of the season. The lefty recovered from squandering a 4-1 lead in the third set to triumph 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.
“I learned to be mentally tough,” Shelton said when reflecting on his previous match against Paul. “When I was playing in Australia after a long week I was looking at my box saying ‘My legs are dead, I am tired, I can’t go anymore’. I realised how important it is to believe in myself. That I can go the full way emotionally and physically and now I have that belief here.”
With his two-hour, 50-minute victory, Shelton has become the youngest American to advance to the last eight since a then-20-year-old Andy Roddick in 2002. The 2003 champion Roddick fell in the quarter-final stage that year, but Shelton will be hoping to go at least one step further and reach his maiden slam semi-final when he takes on Frances Tiafoe or Rinky Hijikata on Tuesday.
“Being at home here in front of an American crowd, I have felt the love all week. I played another American today and we had a great battle,” Shelton said. “It is hard to believe I am playing on Arthur Ashe right now with the stands completely full.”
Shelton thundered down a 147-mph missile ace in his previous win against Aslan Karatsev but topped that facing Paul. He smashed two 149 mph serves at 3-1 in the third set to register a new fastest serve of the tournament. Roddick hit an all-time US Open record 152 mph serve in 2004.
After dropping serve in his first service game, the 2022 NCAA champion broke back and recovered from squandering a 4-1 lead in the third set. The 20-year-old played with great intensity to overpower Paul with his destructive weapons, striking 36 winners, including 16 aces, to advance. Shelton flexed his left bicep after sealing victory on his first match point, embracing the New York crowd.
“I think straight adrenaline,” Shelton said on his two 149mph serves. “I think any other atmosphere I wouldn’t be able to get it down and I think my arm might have come off. But it is feeling pretty good right now.”
Shelton is widely regarded as one of the United States’ brightest prospects and is showing why this fortnight, now up 20 spots to No. 27 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings. He reached a career-high No. 35 in May, but before this week, had not won consecutive tour-level matches since the Australian Open.
The lefty is also aiming to qualify for the Next Gen ATP Finals for the first time. Shelton is fourth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Next Gen Race To Jeddah.
Paul was competing in the fourth round in New York for the first time, having rallied from two sets down for the first time in his career to defeat Roman Safiullin in the second round. The 26-year-old is currently 12th in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, but will be surpassed by Frances Tiafoe if the 25-year-old wins later on Sunday.
Editor’s note: This story was translated from ATPTour.com/es.
It’s difficult to imagine Juan Sebastian Cabal without Robert Farah, or Farah without Cabal. Or, of course, the ATP Tour without the iconic Colombian doubles duo. But time waits for no man, and on Friday at the US Open their Grand Slam career reached its conclusion.
On court 12 of Flushing Meadows, they gave their all but eventually fell against Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski, 7-6(2), 1-6, 6-3, in two hours and 33 minutes.
“Above all, I felt happy with the people, the atmosphere, with how the match went,” confessed Cabal, after battling it out with the No. 1 seeds. “These last matches, both here and at Wimbledon, were against good pairs and they were close. There’s no better way to say goodbye, fighting, giving everything, with an incredible atmosphere on court.”
“I have to thank the Colombians and all the people from other countries that support and follow us, because there was an incredible atmosphere on court. We gave everything until the final point. In every match, at every tournament we entered and a wonderful journey has come to an end.”
It was only a farewell to the big stages, though, because at the end of September, they will officially hang up their racquets as they play their final tournament in their home country, an ATP Challenger Tour event in Bogota that takes place from 25 September to 1 October.
“Now we have the Davis Cup in a week and a big goodbye to the professional tour in Bogota,” Farah said. “The idea is to continue with the responsibility we have, to wear the Colombia shirt, do well, try to arrive as well-prepared as possible and win against Ukraine. Then we go to Bogota and have an amazing send-off there.”
Cabal and Farah’s hallmark, fighting to the very end, is still very much alive as they prepare to say goodbye. After beating US duo Nicholas Godsick and Ethan Quinn in the first round, they had the world No. 1 team against the ropes.
“The decision wasn’t made because we don’t have the level, or because we can’t win these tournaments. We could easily be in this press conference having beaten the world No. 1 team, but that wouldn’t have changed the decision. Not even winning the US Open,” explained Cabal. “It’s not about our level or that we don’t feel capable, today we showed that we could have won. It’s not about the level, it’s about ending a journey.”
“I prioritise my family, finally being able to be with my mum and dad. I always wanted to retire playing well, but making the decision,” added Farah. “You have to be braver to do it that way than when your body or your ranking isn’t up to it. I’m proud of Sebas, of myself, of our families, how they supported us through the decision.”
In New York, the road has ended. The Colombians leave in their wake 46 appearances in Grand Slam events since their debut as a pair in 2011, from which they recorded an 83-44 record.
Moreover, they were crowned champions twice, at Wimbledon and the US Open, both in 2019, the same year when they climbed to No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Doubles Rankings for the first time. They played in a further Grand Slam final at the 2018 Australian Open.
“It’s historic, unique. There is a before and after in tennis for Colombia,” acknowledged Cabal of the two Grand Slam wins. “It makes us so proud to have been a part of that moment. Hopefully this is the start of something amazing for the future generations of Latin American tennis.”
Their huge legacy has transformed South American tennis, which has had two genuine contenders at all of the best tournaments in the world for the last decade.
Editor’s note: This story was translated from ATPTour.com/es.
The first time Carlos Alcaraz left Arthur Ashe Stadium in disbelief was on 3 September 2021. That day, the 18-year-old Spaniard upset Stefanos Tsitsipas in the third round of the US Open, defeating the Greek in five sets after coming back in the decider. And he did so in stunning fashion.
In that encounter, Alcaraz introduced himself to the world on the big stage. His dazzling brand of tennis, replete with jaw-dropping shots, quickly captured the imaginations of the New York crowds.
However, what happened in 2021 was just the beginning of a relationship that was consolidated in 2022, when Alcaraz won the US Open, his first Grand Slam title, claiming the No. 1 spot in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings along the way. To get his hands on the trophy, Alcaraz had to advance through three five-set matches; against Marin Cilic (fourth round), Jannik Sinner (quarter-finals) and Frances Tiafoe (semi-finals), before seeing off Casper Ruud in the final.
Moreover, all three of those clashes came in the night session on Arthur Ashe Stadium at the US Open, where the noise can be deafening as the local fans demand to be entertained. Alcaraz took to that atmosphere like a duck to water.
In his match with Sinner, one of the best of last season, Alcaraz produced a unique shot, hitting the ball behind his back as the Italian approached the net. The video of the point has almost 13 million views on Instagram alone. It was a sign of things to come; the 20-year-old now moves the dial like no other with his stunning shotmaking.
“The energy you get from the fans here, what you feel, is completely different from other tournaments,” explained Alcaraz after reaching the third round of the tournament after two night-session matches at this year’s event. “Because of the way I play, because of the way I am, I always like to do spectacular things. In a way, it’s where I like playing the most. I have a great time with the fans.”
In his opener at the tournament in 2023, Alcaraz turned up with a sleeveless t-shirt, showing off his muscles and creating an image that resonates perfectly with the US fans. He wore the same shirt in his second-round match against Lloyd Harris and will continue to do so as long as he remains in the tournament.
“We’d said that I’d like to play in a sleeveless top at some tournament,” said the Spaniard. “Last year I was going to play sleeveless, but it wasn’t possible in the end. This season I was able to do it. I really like the t-shirt, I think I look good in it. When I put it on, I was thinking about Rafa [Nadal]. He won the US Open in a sleeveless shirt, right?”
Nadal, a four-time US Open champion (2010, 2013, 2017, 2019) is another player who enjoyed a strong bond with the fans in Flushing Meadows, as well as his success at the final Grand Slam of the season. Grit, passion, the energy injected into every shot… these ingredients are greatly appreciated by the American public, as well as a player’s ability to bring something new to the game.
“On court I always try to do different things, to entertain, so people can enjoy themselves watching my tennis,” explained Alcaraz, who draws huge roars from the Arthur Ashe crowds in every match with his winners, drop shots, lobs, and seemingly impossible plays. “In the United States they love a show, to enjoy themselves, to see unusual things…Obviously, I’ve had big moments here with the public and we have a good connection. I had a great time with them, and I think they also do with my tennis.”
Among those enjoying the show are some celebrities who have become fervent supporters of the Spaniard. This week, Colombian singer Sebastian Yatra, a double Grammy Latino winner, has been watching Alcaraz, who even plucked up the courage to sing the song ‘Vagabundo’ after his opening match at the tournament.
Jimmy Butler, the NBA star who plays for Miami Heat, has also been in the crowd watching Alcaraz, whom he counts as a friend. These are just two of the big names the top seed is attracting to Flushing Meadows.
Daniil Medvedev took a sledgehammer to Sebastian Baez’s 12-match winning streak inside Arthur Ashe Stadium Saturday night, defeating the diminutive Argentine 6-2, 6-1 7-6(6) at 1:30 a.m. to power into the fourth round of the US Open.
Standing 6’6” to Baez’s 5’7”, Medvedev leveraged his decisive physical advantage and big-match experience to dominate the contest in the first two sets. He looked beyond comfortable in extended backhand-to-backhand exchanges and while Baez matched Medvedev’s forehand strikes – especially in the third set – he authored his own demise with 55 unforced errors and by converting just two of 12 break point chances.
“I felt like we were both playing well, even in the first two sets. I was just a little better on important points, everything was going my way,” Medvedev said. “Third set he raised his level just a little bit to make the match even tougher. A bit of luck and some good play from me kept me in the set and it’s good to not finish at 4 (a.m.).”
After a subdued opening two sets, Baez took the fight to Medvedev in the third, hitting bigger forehands and coming to net 17 times, nearing the 18 total net visits he made in the first two rounds.
Baez led 5-2 in the third set but his momentum was halted by a 10-minute delay for light rain. When play resumed Medvedev broke to get back on serve at 4-5, fended off one set point in the following game, and dug out of a 0/30 hole in his next service game. Baez made a number of tired unforced errors at key moments, including at 6/6 serving in the tie-break.
The former World No. 1 will now try to snap a two-match losing streak against Alex de Minaur, although he leads the Australian 4-2 overall in their Lexus ATP Head2Head series.
Other than dropping the third set of his second-round match, Medvedev has been in strong form in New York, shrugging off modest lead-in form in Toronto and Cincinnati, where he went 3-2 during the North American ATP Masters 1000 hard-court events. He dismissed Hungary’s Attila Balazs 6-1, 6-1, 6-0 in the first round and Christopher O’Connell 6-2, 6-2, 6-7(6), 6-2 in the second round.
Medvedev leads all players on Tour since 2018 for hard-court titles (18), finals (27) and match wins (231).
Medvedev has already won a personal-best five titles on the season, including the Miami Open and his first crown on clay, at the ATP Masters 1000 tournament in Rome. He also reached the final in Indian Wells.
World No. 32 Baez, who won his only hard-court lead-in tournament in Winston-Salem, had won 12 consecutive matches dating back to his clay-court title in Kitzbuehel.
Rinky Hijikata has been one of the breakthrough stars of the US Open, advancing to the fourth round at a major for the first time.
The former North Carolina Tarheel has enjoyed special moments at Flushing Meadows in the past, including his debut last year when he played Rafael Nadal and won a set against the Spaniard. The reigning Australian Open doubles champion (w/Jason Kubler) will try to make his maiden Slam singles quarter-final when he faces 2022 semi-finalist Frances Tiafoe on Sunday.
Having never previously cracked the world’s Top 100, Hijikata is up to a career-high No. 81 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings. ATPTour.com spoke to the 22-year-old earlier this North American summer to get to know him better off the court.
If you could have dinner with any three people who would they be and why?
Not too sure. Maybe Dan Carter, who is a New Zealand rugby player, and I really liked watching him play. He was probably one of my favourite athletes growing up. Maybe Barack Obama, I feel like he’s a pretty cool guy, so get some politics in there. And then I’m not I’m not too sure, maybe stick to sport and Michael Jordan. UNC connection there.
How big is he still at school?
Obviously he’s an absolute icon. He’s probably one of if not the best athletes ever come out of UNC. We have a rich history of sport and a lot of people having success in their professional careers. Yeah, just having him as kind of a symbol of what you can achieve after you’ve left UNC is pretty cool. And I think he’s a huge part of the culture there.
If you could switch places with one person for a day who would it be?
That’s a tough one. Maybe Novak or Federer or Nadal in their prime. I feel like just to kind of be able to feel how they feel on the court. They make it look so easy. So maybe I’d be able to do some things on the court that I can’t normally do.
Any particular match you wish you could have been the guy who played it for that reason?
Any of those Slam finals they’ve won. They’ve had a bunch of classics, when Rafa won his first Wimbledon, Federer beating Rafa at the Aussie Open in 2017, and then Novak beating Federer at Wimby from match points down. I feel like any one of those matches would be pretty cool to experience.
What is something fans might not know about you?
I think it’s pretty well documented that I went to college, but I’m halfway through a business degree at the moment. I’d like to finish it at some point. So maybe that’s something that people didn’t know beforehand.
What’s something cool you’ve done off the court because of being a tennis player?
I’ve been able to play some pretty sweet golf courses just through kind of connections in tennis, which is pretty cool. I guess it’s kind of a hobby of mine that I picked up a few years ago and I like playing so that’s a pretty cool thing.
Is that one of your hobbies on tour?
My coach is huge into golf, he’s an unbelievable golfer. He’s a scratch golfer, so we look forward to playing whenever we can and it’s kind of a good thing to get your head away from tennis and to just kind of wind down.
What’s your current handicap?
Ah, I’d be up there. I’m not very good. I need to improve a lot. It’s frustrating because I feel like tennis players should be pretty good at golf, but obviously not the case with me. I need to get better. I enjoy playing and I want to get better.
What’s the coolest perk you’ve had from being a tennis player?
You get pretty lucky with the people you meet and I guess getting tickets to sporting events and stuff or just getting on golf courses, some stuff like that is pretty cool. The athletes you meet from other sports or people in other industries that you get to meet is pretty cool, but I’m still kind of new to it.
You get to travel with this job a lot. If you could visit one place, where would it be?
I feel like I’ve been to a lot of places, but I’ve always wanted to go on safari and somewhere in Africa. So that’s on the bucket list.
If there’s a tournament somewhere out there, then I’d be pumped to play. Even if not, I’d love to go just for a vacation.
What was your pinch-me moment on Tour?
Probably a couple last year. It was my first full year playing and getting to play Medvedev after getting my first ever tour-level win, he was No. 1 in the world at the time, that was pretty cool, a pretty special moment. And then playing Rafa on Arthur Ashe in my first ever Grand Slam main draw match, that’s kind of a big welcome to the big stage kind of moment.
That was a bit of a pinch-me moment but had to snap out of it pretty quickly.
Did you look around when you walked out?
I definitely looked around. I’d been out there once before when John Millman played Djokovic a few years ago. And I was like, Geez, how cool would it be to play on this court in front of a packed house? And I gave myself a little moment when I walked out there to just kind of look around and soak it all in and really try to appreciate for a second or two how cool it was and then try to focus on the match.
I was playing juniors at the time, I think I was just out of the tournament and he’d just beaten Federer at that tournament. And I was lucky enough, he was a great sport and gave my coach and I tickets to his match against Djokovic. It was my first time watching a match on Ashe and it was something like I’ve never experienced.
It’s huge. It’s way bigger than any other tennis stadium, or any one that I’ve ever been to. I’ve watched matches at Wimby on Centre Court and Phillippe Chatrier and Rod Laver and it feels like it’s twice as big.
If you could achieve one thing, what would it be?
Probably win Wimbledon. I think that’s everyone’s dream when you pick up a racquet, I feel like that’s the tournament every player wants to win. I guess that would be the one that I’d love to win.
Tennis matches can turn on a single point, which was as evident as ever in Alexander Zverev’s four-set win over Grigor Dimitrov on Saturday evening at the US Open.
Dimitrov was playing tennis reminiscent of his days in the Top 5 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, showing jaw-dropping shotmaking, balletic movement and expert changes of pace with his knifing backhand slice. But the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals champion was unable to convert two set points to take a two-set lead and paid dearly.
Zverev rallied past the former World No. 3 6-7(2), 7-6(8), 6-1, 6-1 to advance to the fourth round at Flushing Meadows. The German, who has made it to the Round of 16 in four consecutive appearances at the event, will next play sixth seed Jannik Sinner, who defeated 2016 US Open champion Stan Wawrinka in four sets earlier in the day.
This encounter was a far cry from Zverev’s 6-2, 6-2 win against Dimitrov just two weeks ago in Cincinnati. The first two sets featured some of the highest-quality tennis that has been played in the tournament so far. But once the former World No. 2 levelled the match, he seized the momentum and Dimitrov also began to falter.
Zverev ultimately took a 6-1 lead in their Lexus ATP Head2Head series after three hours and 41 minutes behind seven service breaks. The 2020 US Open finalist was solid in the most critical moments, hitting 43 winners to just 27 unforced errors.
Zverev will next try to extend his 3-1 Lexus ATP Head2Head advantage over Sinner. The pair last clashed at last year’s Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters. It will be a critical match for Zverev, who currently is in eighth place in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin. Sinner is in fourth.
“Sascha is serving very, very good. Physically he is strong again,” Sinner said. “I know him maybe a little bit worse because I haven’t played against him in a pretty long time now, so it would be nice to face him.”
Frances Tiafoe earned a tough four-set victory in the third round of the US Open on Friday against Adrian Mannarino. But some fans were more focussed on what happened involving the American later in the day.
After fulfilling his media obligations, Tiafoe visited the suite level inside Arthur Ashe Stadium to meet Justin Bieber and Hailey Bieber.
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The Biebers were on site to watch WTA star Coco Gauff play Elise Mertens. Gauff won the match in three sets.
Tiafoe, still in his match kit, enjoyed speaking with the celebrities before returning inside the suite to take a photo with his girlfriend, Ayan Broomfield, Justin and Hailey.
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Another celebrity who was in the suite was avid tennis fan Jimmy Butler, an NBA star for the Miami Heat. Butler has travelled far and wide to watch Carlos Alcaraz compete this year, from Buenos Aires to Miami and Wimbledon.
But Butler is not solely an Alcaraz fan. The basketball player posted on his Instagram Stories that he was watching Tiafoe on his phone.
“Proof you be tapped in on me bro i ain’t gon clown bout that no more 😂😂 all love,” Tiafoe replied.
On Saturday Seal, another celebrity tennis fan, watched Jannik Sinner’s victory against Stan Wawrinka from the Italian’s box.
“He’s obviously an incredible singer, but most importantly is a very, very nice man to be around,” Sinner said. “He [told] me that he’s going to make the European tour and everything, and then it’s nice to share a little bit different moments, not only talking about tennis. So it’s always nice.”
Jannik Sinner beats former champion Stan Wawrinka and Andrey Rublev defeats Arthur Rinderknech to reach the US Open fourth round.
Fourteen consecutive wins and counting for Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury at the US Open.
The American-British pair maintained its perfect start to the 2023 edition of the hard-court major with a 6-3, 7-6(4) victory against Ben McLachlan and Yoshihito Nishioka on Saturday. Ram and Salisbury held their nerve in the second-set tie-break to seal their second straight-sets win of the week and book a third-round clash with Mackenzie McDonald and Andreas Mies.
Ram and Salisbury are chasing their fourth major title this fortnight in New York, where they lifted the trophy in 2021 and 2022. A strong run at the final major of the year would also boost the pair’s position in the Pepperstone ATP Live Doubles Teams Rankings. Last year’s Nitto ATP Finals champions are currently 15th as they chase a fifth consecutive appearance at the season finale.
Second seeds Ivan Dodig and Austin Krajicek had a less straightforward passage to the third round. The Croatian-American duo let slip three match points in the second set before beating Petros Tsitsipas and Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-5, 6-7(5), 6-4. Grand Slam champions already this season at Roland Garros, Dodig and Krajicek will next take on home wild cards Denis Kudla and Vasil Kirkov, who beat Matwe Middelkoop and Mate Pavic 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.
Other second-round winners on Day 6 at Flushing Meadows included seventh seeds Edouard Roger-Vasselin and Santiago Gonzalez, who saved six match points in the second set before downing Nicolas Barrientos and Andre Goransson 7-6(5), 6-4. Roger-Vasselin and Gonzalez had trailed 2-5 in the second set before rallying to a thrilling two-hour, 53-minute win.