Third round of the US Open 2010: court No. 13, Nishikori, ranked 147th, makes an upset overcoming a seeded Cilic after 5-hour battle – fifth longest in the tournament history. Two years later Cilic avenges that loss, defeating Nishikori in four sets, in the round of 32. Who could expect that two years later they would face each other (for the third time in New York) in the championship match? In very hermetic men’s tennis it hadn’t happened since the French Open 2004 (Gaudio d. Coria) that two players advanced to their first Grand Slam finals…
Nishikori spent 97 minutes longer en route to the final; admittedly it isn’t a serious difference but more important that his two previous matches were very draining as opposed to Cilic’s matches – the Croat blew away off the court Berdych and Federer. From the beginning it seemed pretty clear that the Japanese wasn’t as fit as he should have been, but it doesn’t change the fact, Cilic maintained his exquisite disposition of his two previous wins. First vital moment of the final came in the 6th game: Nishikori saved two break points with service winners, but on the third occasion Cilic played well from the back of the court forcing a forehand error of his one year younger opponent. Similar game occurred at 1-all in the 2nd set. This time, Nishikori even saved a triple break point, but lost his serve anyway. Cilic, who had saved a break point in the opening game of the final, in his next seven service games was actually immaculate – in the 6th game of the mid-set fired four consecutive aces and broke again in the following game. He was two points away from winning the set 6-2 when showed some impatience challenging the ball despite he played it without troubles. Right afterwards he was broken for the only time. At 5:3 converted his first set point producing a forehand winner down the line. He opened the 3rd set serving three aces in succession. Three games later got decisive break as Nishikori mis-hit backhand. The Japanese trailing *1:4 showed slightly better movement and first positive emotions, sensing it might be the last time to turn the tables. At *4:2 (deuce) there was a solid baseline rally, and Cilic decided to play his first dropshot of the final – Nishikori couldn’t retrieve, which caused Cilic’s euphoric expression (he’d already saved a double break point in the game) – didn’t even apologize although the netcord helped him a bit. Serving for the biggest title in his career, Cilic – like in the final game against Federer – hadn’t showed any nervous reactions… until triple match point when he missed ~two meters his consecutive serves committing just third double fault… on second match point his bold forehand found Nishikori in the tramelines, and Cilic finished the tournament with a cross-court backhand, hit to an open court. The giant of Međugorje, celebrated his three previous victories with roar and hands put up in the air… as a new GS champion he fell on his back and folded hands in prayer gesture. Last year he didn’t even enter the tournament due to suspension for a doping violation.
Cilic became the first Croatian to claim a Grand Slam title since his coach, Goran Ivanisevic, triumphed in 2001 at Wimbledon. “This is all hard work in these last several years, and especially this last year,” he said during the trophy ceremony. “My team has brought something special to me, especially Goran. We’re working really hard, but most important from all the things he brought to me was enjoying tennis and always having fun, and I think enjoyed my best tennis over here and played the best ever in my life.” The runner-up said: “I think I showed my potential that I can beat anybody now. So if I can keep training hard and also practise hard, I think I will have more chances coming up. There are a lot of things – positive things – that I learned from these two weeks. I didn’t expect anything coming here. [Coming into the tournament] I was injured and practised little. There are so many positive things that I can take away from these two weeks in beating Stan and Novak again.” The 26-year-old Cilic has now won 300 matches and 12 titles participating in 167 main-level events; his performance in the last three matches of the US Open ’14 – phenomenal. The Croat has extremely improved the serve within eight months under guidance of Ivanisevic – one of the best servers in history. I’ve noticed Cilic developed exceptionally efficient flat serve down the T on deuce-court. Besides that he basically plays the same type of tennis as he did the entire career: powerful flat shots off both wings, moving the body close to the baseline with occasional well-prepared attacks to the net. But the new-improved serve has helped enormously to increase his self-confidence. Now, when he holds much easier, he has bigger margin of error in return games which takes the additional pressure off him. He isn’t afraid of tie-breaks anymore. Before the cooperation with Ivanisevic, Cilic had a poor ~45% record in tie-breaks, this year: 20-8 (71%)! He’s relatively young, so if he keeps this level, great things ahead of him in the next two-three years, yet I suspect he may become “one slam wonder” like Richard Krajicek after his Wimbledon ’96 triumph, when he – like Cilic in NYC – played out of his skin in the second week of the tournament… Nishikori is the best baseline player at the moment to me. He has also improved his serve, but needs to work more on that. A better server – Kohlschreiber – is the same height, so there’s still possible improvement for Nishikori in this crucial department. Anyway, I expect to see him in 2-3 major finals in the future… Stats of the match
The Croat earned a place in the championship match, after producing a straight sets win over five-time US Open champion Federer in the second semi-final match Saturday on Arthur Ashe Stadium. “It’s just an amazing day for me,” Cilic said in his on-court interview. “I feel amazing. To be able to play like this, I never dreamed of [it], and I think today was the best performance of my career.” Cilic, who celebrates his 26th birthday later this month, is the first Croatian to reach a major final since his coach, Goran Ivanisevic, won the Wimbledon title in 2001. Stepping on court after rain postponed the start of the match, the 14th-seeded Cilic took the first lead to go up 3:1. With Federer serving up 40/0 in the 4th game, Cilic won five straight points and claimed the break as the second-seeded Swiss netted a forehand. He saved Federer’s break back opportunity in the next game as he put away a smash winner, and proceeded the clinch of the set with his fifth ace. Federer fell into a 0/40 hole, including a double-fault, to start the 2nd set. He saved two break points, but put a backhand into the net on the third to concede the break. Cilic, meanwhile, continued to deny Federer any openings. He won all 13 of his first serve points and closed the set in similar fashion to the first, with another ace. Federer had battled back from a two-sets deficit for the ninth time his career on Thursday night against Monfils, after saving two match points in the fourth set. As he had done against the Frenchman, and with the crowd once again in his corner, he began the 3rd set with his first break of the match. Cilic immediately got back on serve, and broke again to go up 4:3. He sealed his place in the final with a ‘love’ service hold, firing three aces before finishing the match with a backhand winner down the line! “First point to the last I was absolutely playing the best tennis of my life,” he said. “Considering the huge occasion I was playing in, for the second time in a semi-final of a Grand Slam, it just can’t be more special. Considering also that even I was a set up and break up, the crowd was rooting for Roger to come back, it wasn’t easy to deal with that, but I felt that my serve helped me a lot today to get some free points to breathe a little bit easier. It was working perfectly.” Federer’s post-match comment: “It’s fairly simple – I think Marin played great. I maybe didn’t catch my best day, but I think that was pretty much it in a nutshell. He served great when he had to. The first break was tough. I think was up 40-love and then lose five straight points, and then had one chance in the third when I was up a break and he came straight back. Those are my two moments really. But credit to him for just playing incredible tennis.” I’ve never seen Cilic serving so well before, especially on ‘deuce-court’ where he had constantly been mixing up the pace entwining 190-210 kph flat bombs ‘down the T’ with sliced 160-180 kph out-wide…Stats of the match
Nishikori defeated top seed and 2011 champion Djokovic on Saturday in their first meeting since 2011. The 24-year-old underdog became the first Asian man to reach a Grand Slam championship final. In the 1st set he came through a test in his opening service game (two deuces) and broke serve for a 2:1 lead: by pushing Djokovic out of position with a forehand return at 15/40, Nishikori approached the net to calmly strike a backhand winner into space. It was the wake-up call that Djokovic needed. He broke back to ‘love’ for 2-all. Nishikori’s backhand was a potent weapon though, while Djokovic was not at his consistent best. In the 7th game, Djokovic dropped to 0/40. Although Djokovic saved one break point, Nishikori clinched his second break and ultimately ran through the set. Djokovic, contesting his 24th major semi-final and eighth straight at Flushing Meadows, started to find his range in the 2nd set and dented Nishikori’s defensive game to take control of the baseline rallies. A forehand winner gave him atwo-game cushion.At *3:1 (15/30) there was a punishing rally, concluded with Djokovic’s subtle dropshot. The coach, Boris Becker jumped off his seat, yet quickly realized it’s too early for exaltation and sat down… Nishikori knew it was deciding point in that set, and the best player in the world,completed the 30-minute set with his sixth ace. Third set:Nishikori survived a 7-deuce game (saved four break points) to lead 2:1, and at 4:3* he raised his game. With Djokovic serving at 30/30, Nishikori raced to rip a crosscourt forehand beyond a lunging Djokovic to bring up a break point opportunity. He then effortlessly struck a return winner off a 120 mph (193 kph) serve to break. When serving for the set, two errors – a backhand and double fault – gifted Djokovic an immediate break for 4:5. Both players struggled in the 96°F heat (35° Celsius), but in the tie-break, Nishikori was aggressive to take a 4:0 lead. Djokovic clawed his way back to 2:4 before hitting a double fault only to see Nishikori double fault at 5:3. However, Nishikori clung on to move to within one set of the US Open final. It’s interesting that until the 12th game of the 3rd set, Djokovic had produced only three forehand errors during rallies (!), but added five to his stats before the beginning of the 4th set… Nishikori maintained the momentum when Djokovic dropped serve in the 1st game of the last set, and rallied from a 0/40 deficit in the next game, including a 22-shot rally. The Japanese had wisely conserved his energy, and shocked his Serbian opponent firing three aces (five in total) in the 8th game which he won to ‘love’! In the following game he drew an error from Djokovic to bring up two match point opportunities. He clinched the second, when Djokovic’s forehand went long. “He played some great tennis,” said Djokovic. “I congratulate him for the effort. He was the better player today. I think he wasn’t using his forehand as well as he does now. His backhand is very solid. One of the best double-handed backhands from all over the court.” Nishikori stated in an on-court interview: “I don’t know what’s going on. I was a little bit tight, especially since it was my first semi-final in a Grand Slam. It’s just an amazing, amazing feeling, beating the No. 1 player. I’m so happy.”Stats of the match
Federer fought back from a two-sets deficit for the ninth time in his career, saving two match points in the fourth set, before overcoming Monfils in their night-session match.“I still thought the finish line was far for Gael. I knew I could play better tennis. I got off to a good start, so I was actually feeling alright, but then when I was down two match points, that’s when I wasn’t feeling so great anymore,” Federer said with a laugh in an on-court interview with Brad Gilbert. “I thought, ‘This is it. This is last point, man. Just go down fighting, don’t miss an easy shot and let him have it. It’s fine.’ But I served well and stayed in the match and somehow turned it around. I felt great in the fifth, though. I was really starting to play better and better as the match went on, and that’s a great feeling.” The five-time US Open champion advances to the semi-finals for a ninth time at Flushing Meadows, and for the first time since 2011. Monfils overcame a shaky first service game as he saved two break points against the No. 2 seed. Watched by the likes of Lindsey Vonn, Gwen Stefani, Thierry Henry, Hugh Jackman and Anna Wintour, in the 3rd game of the match he played unbelievable volley winner ~11 meters from the net (!), and he took the early lead at 4:2 on his fourth break point chance, and broke Federer’s serve for a second time to open the 2nd set. In the ensuing game, the 20th-seeded Frenchman twisted his right ankle just prior to raising his arm to make a successful Hawkeye Challenge. He held serve and carried on, breaking Federer again to close out the set. The 33-year-old Swiss finally broke to open the 3rd set, and after losing serve in the 4th game, recovered the lead in the next game with aggressive play at the net. He became the first player to force a set off Monfils at the 2014 US Open (Monfils enjoyed his longest professional streak of sets won in a row – 14). A rejuvenated Federer roared as he went up 2:1 in the 4th set, but was unable to sustain the momentum. Monfils broke back and overcame a break point in the next game, when Federer overhit a forehand. A pair of unforced errors from the Swiss’s racquet brought up double match point for Monfils at 5:4, but Federer reeled off four straight points to bring the crowd to its feet. When asked what went through him mind on the two match points, Monfils said, “I was saying to myself, ‘Keep it simple and try to make him play them.’ Because I knew that he would force it, he would put the first ball in and then come to the net very quick. [I needed to] relax and just lean a bit more on my forehand return and try to make it.” Monfils double-faulted twice to gift Federer a chance to serve out the set, and could offer little resistance as the World No. 3 seized control. After battling for 2 hours and 53 minutes through the first four sets, Federer needed just 27 minutes to clinch the decisive set as he limited Monfils to just 11 points total, picking up his 25th win in 26 night matches on Arthur Ashe Stadium. Federer, who won 53 of 74 points at the net, improved to an 8-2 record against Monfils, including a three-sets victory last month at the Western & Southern Open. “I’m looking forward to playing Marin,” he said. “He’s a great guy. We had a tough, tough match in Toronto. I think I needed nine match points to close him out and beat him at midnight, 6-4 in the third, so we know what to expect.” Stats of the match
A nerveless display from Cilic saw the Croat reach his first Grand Slam semi-final in nearly five years on Thursday as he defeated Berdych for the second time this year in a major event (7-6 6-4 7-6 in the Wimbledon third round).“It feels amazing,” Cilic told Darren Cahill in his on-court interview. “I’ve had tough times the past couple of years. I’m really happy that things are working out with my team. It’s paying off, especially in the past few months. I’m just enjoying my time on the court.”After two failed attempts in the US Open quarter-finals (2009, ’12), Cilic made a fast start against Berdych, earning a break in the opening game, aided by two double faults. Trailing by a double break at 1:4, Berdych clawed back one of the breaks, but lost serve again in the 7th game to surrender the opener. An early break of serve in the 2nd set put Cilic on the path to a commanding two-set lead, sparking an attempted comeback from Berdych, who had only rallied to win from two sets down twice before in his long career (Cilic had opportunities in two games to enhance his 2nd-set lead with another break). The Czech broke at the start of the 3rd set, but a close call on a double bounce in the 7th game rattled Berdych and Cilic capitalized to draw level. In the decisive tie-break, Cilic reeled off the final three points from 4-all (Berdych led *2:1, then trailed 2:4 at the change of ends), confidently closing out victory with a service winner. “It was a truly amazing day for me,” said Cilic, who still has a negative H2H record against Berdych (4-5).“It was very difficult conditions, very gusty. I adjusted a bit better than Tomas today and I think what helped me was getting that lead at the beginning of the match. I was serving really well; I could rely on it. I think overall I played pretty good tactically and I’m pretty, pretty happy with everything. We were both hitting big and I think it came down to who was going to put pressure on the other guy. I think I did that a little bit better today; I was returning a little bit better. Overall, I felt I used the wind a little bit better to my advantage.” Stats of the match
Djokovic advanced to an eighth consecutive US Open semi-final after withstanding a withering challenge from longtime rival Murray that ended after 1 a.m. Thursday morning (the match kicked off at 9:43 p.m.). The dramatic opening two sets on Arthur Ashe Stadium featured eight service breaks and lasted 2 hours 13 minutes before Djokovic asserted control in the second half of the match to win in four sets. Shaking off early losses in ‘Masters 1000’ tournaments in Toronto and Cincinnati ahead of the US Open, Djokovic is now two wins away from claiming consecutive Grand Slam titles, following his Wimbledon triumph in July. If Djokovic goes on to claim a second US Open title, he will emerge a red-hot favourite to end the year at No. 1 in the ranking. Seeking his first title since Wimbledon 2013 and his 9th win over a World No. 1, Murray was heroic in the first two sets: rallied from a break down once in the 1st set and two times in the following set to force tie-breaks. Actually he was relatively close to win the opener: after trailing *1:4 (0/30), he squandered a mini-set point at 4-all (Djokovic’s service winner). In the 2nd set he swung boldly from the baseline, keeping the Serbian on defence with some of the hardest-hit groundstrokes of his career. Djokovic led 3:1*, then saved set point at *5:6, but was chanceless in the ensuing tie-break. It seemed they would play another marathon in New York (4:54 hrs lasted their final two years ago), but two draining sets cost the Scot too much energy. He was physically struggling in the last two sets, he hung in there on serve in the 4th set until the 10th game only due to powerful serve, during typical rallies he couldn’t seriously threaten Djokovic at all.“I played a poor tie-break in the first set definitely,” said Murray. “I was down in the first set and I fought back. I was down in the second set and a break and I fought back. I fought hard. I played some good tennis. But it wasn’t enough. I’m obviously disappointed.” Djokovic, who hit 46 winners and broke serve seven times, told ESPN on court, referring to their major matches:“It was a very physical battle in the opening two and a half sets. I didn’t expect anything less before the match knowing I was facing Andy. The last five times we’ve always gone over three, four hours.” Looking ahead to his match-up with Nishikori, the Serb said, “We haven’t played against each other for a while. He’s a very talented player who has been Top 10. He’s very fast all over the court and serves well for his height. I’m expecting a tough one.”Stats of the match
Nishikori clinched an epic five-set win over Wawrinka on Wednesday to reach his first Grand Slam semi-final. The 24-year-old is the first Japanese man since 1933 (Jiro Sato at Wimbledon) to reach a major semi-final. In his on-court interview with Brad Gilbert, Nishikori said, “I started a little bit tight, but my play was okay. As the match went on, I was feeling more and more confident, especially in the third set. I don’t know how I finished the game, but I’m very happy. I feel amazing, playing well. It’s my favorite Grand Slam. Hopefully I can play 100 % tennis in the next round.” The Shimane native will be the first Japanese player to contest the US Open semi-finals since 1918 (Ichiya Kumagae). Having tied for the latest ever finish at the US Open with his 2:26 am victory over Raonic in the 4R, Nishikori was not at his best in the 1st set against Wawrinka. The Swiss capitalised on an 83 mph second serve to break Nishikori in the 2nd game with a rifling forehand return winner and went on to secure the opener. Nishikori settled into his game in the 2nd set. He saved a double break point at 3-all (15/40), but was denied on a 0/40 chance on Wawrinka’s serve in the 8th game (the Swiss fired five service bombs/great kicks in a row). Nishikori leveled the match though, as he broke the Swiss in the 12th game. The Japanese stepped up his momentum with a break midway through the 3rd set. However, he wasted a set point at 5:2, and when serving for the set at 5:3 (15/30), he attempted a ‘tweener off a Wawrinka lob. As his shot landed in the net, coach Michael Chang watched on despairingly as Stan Wawrinka subsequently broke back. Nishikori regrouped in time to save a break point in the 11th game and force a tie-break. Wawrinka led 5:3 when committed three backhand errors in a row. The Japanese was denied his first set point chance at *6:5 (Wawrinka’s great BH passing-shot) before saving a set point of his own with a scintillating backhand winner. A wayward forehand from Wawrinka gave Nishikori a second chance at 8:7, and he converted as the Swiss hit a backhand return long off a second serve. After three games of the 4th set, Nishikori received treatment on the right toe injury that had sidelined him in Toronto and Cincinnati. Neither player was able to make a breakthrough and in the subsequent tie-break, Wawrinka quickly assumed control with a 4:0 lead. Nishikori fought back, though, and found himself two points from victory at 5-all. The Florida resident skewed a backhand wide, though, and Wawrinka made no mistake on set point with an unreturned serve. Holding on in the 5th set, Nishikori rallied from 15/40 in the 3rd game (two well-constructed points) and saved another, third break point in the deciding set (went to the net behind the serve and the surprised Wawrinka returned wide) to take a 3:2 lead. The pressure of serving second in the decider eventually told on Wawrinka in the 10th game. A double fault from the Swiss, his eighth of the match, gave Nishikori two match points. The four-year younger player converted his second m.p. as Wawrinka netted the forehand in the fifth stroke of the rally. Remarking on Nishikori’s turnaround from his lengthy fourth-round match, Wawrinka said, “From outside he looks really dead, but we know on the court he can play, and he play long like what he did today. If even at the beginning he looks like he’s going to die on the court, but he’s there. Physically he’s there. We were both quite tired in the fifth set. I tried not to show. I still think that I was the fresher on the court, but he handled it well. He was really going for his shot in the fifth set. I had some chances to break him. Maybe I should have gone for it a little bit more, maybe I should have tried a few different things, but it didn’t happen that way. That’s life.” It’s the first time in his career that Nishikori has recorded back-to-back Top 10 wins at a Grand Slam championship and joins very narrow group of players, who survived back-to-back more-than-four-hour matches (his next opponent Djokovic has done it even twice!). Stats of the match
Fourth round: ATP & the official USO site
Andy Murray set a blockbuster US Open quarter-final clash with World No. 1 Novak Djokovic after beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-5 7-5 6-4 on Monday in New York. “I think that’s really why we play the game,” said Murray, looking ahead to his next match. “That’s what you put the work in for, so that when you come to these events and you do have to play against the best players that you’re ready. And, as much as it’s incredibly tough and challenging, the match, that’s what you enjoy.” The Scot recorded his first Top 10 win since he defeated Djokovic in the 2013 Wimbledon final as he edged Tsonga in 2 hours and 35 minutes. Murray went on the attack to break Tsonga in the 12th game of the 1st set and rallied from a break down in the 2nd (Tsonga led 4:2) to take a two-set lead – in 12th games of both sets Murray was very aggressive on Tsonga’s second serves when set points appeared. He closed out victory after breaking Tsonga in the 10th game of the 3rd set (the Frenchman wasted three break points leading 2:0), having hit 45 winners to just 18 unforced errors. World No. 1 and runner-up of the last two US Opens, Djokovic reached his 22nd consecutive Grand Slam quarter-final on Monday as he overcame Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-1 7-5 6-4 on Louis Armstrong Stadium. The Serb is through to the last eight at Flushing Meadows for the eighth year in a row and is looking to reach his fifth straight final in New York. “I’m very glad obviously that I had so many consecutive quarter-finals at Grand Slams,” said Djokovic. “Obviously it motivates me for the future to continue that streak. I feel good about my game, myself. My physical state is pretty good. I’m fit. This is something that is obviously encouraging me for the next one.” After an emphatic start to his sixth meeting with Kohlschreiber, Djokovic’s momentum was halted in the 2nd set. He was forced to save a set point with brilliant cross-court forehand passing-shot at *4:5 (30/40) in the 2nd set, before breaking the German in the following game and serving out a two-set lead. An early break in the 3rd steered Djokovic to victory in just over 2 hours. He improved to a 5-1 lead over Kohlschreiber in their H2H series. World No. 4 Stan Wawrinka saved two set points in a crucial 3rd-set tie-break before prevailing against No. 16 seed Tommy Robredo 7-5 4-6 7-6(7) 6-2 on Monday for a place in the US Open quarter-finals. Wawrinka, who earned a walkover in his third-round match, struck 75 winners – with his 27 in the third set surpassing Robredo’s total of 19 for the match. He converted four of his six break points, while saving six of the eight faced on serve. “I think there were a few moments in the match that made a big difference,” said Wawrinka. “Mentally I was really strong today. I was accepting the fact that I was really down physically in the third set, that I was struggling a lot with cramping and everything. But I wasn’t complaining about that. I stayed positive with that.” In the 3rd set tie-break, the Spaniard led 6:4, but a double set point evaporated after his baseline errors.Kei Nishikori, the 10th seed, recorded an impressive 4-6 7-6(4) 6-7(6) 7-5 6-4 victory over fifth seed Milos Raonic in 4 hours and 19 minutes on Arthur Ashe Stadium. The pair’s fourth meeting ended at 2:26 a.m. local time Tuesday morning, tying the record for the latest finish at Flushing Meadows – venue of the final Grand Slam championship of the year. It was also the finishing time for the matches won by Kohlschreiber two years ago and Mats Wilander in 1993. “It’s going to bring confidence for sure for the next round,” said Nishikori. “[It was a] really tough five sets. [I’m] very happy to win today. I’ll try to recover [for] tomorrow [versus Wawrinka]. Tomorrow is going to be very important.” The Japanese was playing much below his standards until the latter stages of the 2nd set. In the 3rd set tie-break, Raonic played a backhand winner off return at 6-all – just his second BH winner in the match that seemed to be vital for the final outcome. The Canadian led 5:4* in the 4th set, but Nishikori, who needed a treatment after five games of that set, held at ‘love’ and the momentum shifted into his side. In the 5th set he had two mini-match point for a 5:2 lead, three games later he finished the contest with a nice volley action. Gael Monfils reached his second Grand Slam quarter-final of the season as he edged Grigor Dimitrov7-5 7-6(6) 7-5. It is the first time in his career that the 28-year-old Monfils has reached two major quarter-finals in the same year. In debilitating heat at Flushing Meadows, Monfils, at times in the 2nd and 3rd sets, looked to be battling great fatigue, but found his strength on the clutch points to claim the victory in 2 hours and 24 minutes. The Frenchman saved two set points, as Dimitrov led 6:4 in the 2nd-set tie-break… the Bulgarian actually should have won the set on his first set point after Monfils’ lousy dropshot.“It was a very poor match for me,” lamented Dimitrov. “I didn’t play close to the way I wanted to, and I think it was a great stage for me to come out on there on the centre court and perform my best. Just everything went the opposite way today. Of course I have to give credit to Gaël that he played a really good match, but I also did a lot of unforced errors and that cost me a lot. I had 6:4 in the tie-break, I had all odds on me. And it was just poor shot selection. I didn’t execute at the right time.”In the quarter-finals the Frenchman, whohasn’t dropped a set yet, will face Roger Federer, who defeated 17th-seeded Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut in straight sets. Chasing his first final at Flushing Meadows in five years, Federer powered to a 6-4 6-3 6-2 victory to reach the quarter-finals for the 10th time in the past 11 years. Tomas Berdych booked his second appearance in the US Open quarter-finals after dispatching young gun Dominic Thiem 6-1 6-2 6-4 on Louis Armstrong Stadium. The Austrian, the only unseeded player in the last 16, began first meeting against Berdych with tremendous backhand down the line to quickly get a triple break point – he wasted all chances; admittedly leveled at 1-all with a bunch of huge serves, but to the end of the match his attitude was very disappointing ever since. The sixth-seeded Berdych saved all seven break points (all in the 1st set) he faced during the 98-minute encounter. He struck 10 aces and plenty of unreturned serves against his Austrian opponent. The Czech, who owns a 28-11 record in Flushing Meadows, is competing in his 45th consecutive Grand Slam (since 2003 US Open). Only Federer (60), F.Lopez (51), Ferrer (48) and Verdasco (46) have longer streaks among active players. No. 14 seed Marin Cilic prevailed in the second-longest match of this year’s US Open, surviving in 4 hour and 13 minutes on Louis Armstrong Stadium over No. 26 seed Gilles Simon, 5-7 7-6(3) 6-4 3-6 6-3 firing 23 aces. In the opening set, they traded early breaks of serve before the Frenchman took a medical timeout for treatment on his lower back while trailing *3:4. Cilic failed to get the set being two points away in the 10th gameand he began to produce a rash of unforced errors. A forehand dumped into the bottom of the net on Simon’s set point gave him an unexpected one-set lead. There was little to differentiate the pair in the 2nd set, with both players trading service holds to send things into a tie-break. But it was Cilic who stepped up when it mattered most, jumping to a *3:0 lead and riding that early momentum to take the breaker, to level the match at one set each. Cilic continued to struggle with his break point conversion and squandered three break points in two different games of the 3rd set. But at 4-all, a beautifully placed lob winner from Cilic finally gave him the break of serve he needed. He easily closed the set out in his next service game to regain the lead. It appeared that the Croatian would run away with the match in the 4th set, but the No. 26 seed produced yet another twist in the match by breaking serve on an unforced error into the net from Cilic to lead 3:1. Although Cilic managed to save two set points on his serve at *2:5, Simon wrapped up the set in his next service game to bring the match into a deciding 5th set. It was unclear to anyone inside the stadium who would prevail at the start of the set. But when Cilic finally grabbed a break of serve to lead 5:3, it was an opportunity that the Croatian was determined to use. An ace brought him to match point and a forehand volley winner wrapped up the tense duel. Cilic recorded his first victory over Simon, snapping a four-match losing streak against the Frenchman (five-setters twice: Wimbledon ’07 & Aussie Open this year).
Third round: ATP
Top American John Isner  faced a familiar face at the US Open on Saturday evening, and suffered a similar fate: the 13th seed was upset for the third year in a row in the third round by Philipp Kohlschreiber. This time the German won 7-6(4) 4-6 7-6(2) 7-6(4), last year he triumphed in four sets as well, needed five sets in 2012 (both four-setters on Louis Armstrong Stadium, their first meeting at the US Open occurred on Arthur Ashe Stadium). Kohlschreiber, the 22nd seed, withstood 42 aces struck by his opponent seeded 13th, and conceded the only break of the match in the 2nd set. The German’s victory marked the first time the 6’10” Isner had lost three tie-breaks in one match. “Normally you get a little bit stressed when it comes to a tie-break and you know there are not many chances,” said Kohlschreiber. “I mixed it up pretty well with the serve. I didn’t go for an ace. I always tried to get a good position in the rally.” The German saved a set point at 5:6 in the 1st set and mini-set points at 5-all in the 3rd & 3:4 in the 4th set. In the fourth round, he will face top seed Novak Djokovic, a straight-sets winner over unseeded American Sam Querrey. “Over the years I played some of my best tennis on these courts,” said Djokovic after the 6-3 6-2 6-2 win. “Four finals and one title is quite an impressive record. I feel very comfortable playing on Arthur Ashe stadium. The New York fans give me a lot of energy. It’s a pleasure to perform, to play in front of them.”Defeats of Isner & Querrey mean it’s the worst edition of the US Open from an American perspective – a year before for the first time no US player advanced to the last 16, this year it’s repeated, however, in 2013 three Americans participated in the third round… Andy Murray came through another test, battling past Andrey Kuznetsov 6-1 7-5 4-6 6-2 on Saturday to reach the fourth round at Flushing Meadows. The Scot squandered two mini-match points at 4-all in the 3rd set, double faulting to drop serve in the 10th game. He regrouped quickly, though, to dominate Kuznetsov in the 4th set for victory in 2 hours and 35 minutes. The ninth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was a 6-4 6-4 6-4 winner over Pablo Carreno Busta. The Frenchman advanced in 1 hour and 54 minutes, hitting 32 winners and saving the six break points he faced (three different games). Tsonga broke in the opening game of the match after 11 deuces, it lasted 15 minutes in total.Kei Nishikori advanced to the US Open round of 16 for the first time since 2008 as he dismissed Leonardo Mayer 6-4 6-2 6-3. The 10th-seeded Japanese player hit 25 winners to 19 unforced errors and saved 9 of the 10 break points he faced for victory in 1 hour and 52 minutes. Nishikori said about his next opponent, Milos Raonic: “Hopefully I can get more returns in, because in the last match, he was hitting so many aces and hitting good serves, I couldn’t do anything in my return games. For sure it’s going to be a different game here.” Raonic brought the curtain down on Victor Estrella Burgos’ dream run at Flushing Meadows with a 7-6(5) 7-6(5) 7-6(3) victory in 2 hours and 43 minutes. “It was difficult,” said Raonic. “He’s playing well. He’s playing with a lot of inspiration. It was a lot of fun, the atmosphere, out there. I’m glad that I was able to play well in the important moments. It’s good to put myself in this position in the fourth round to go further in this tournament and give myself an opportunity to play better. I believe I can play better. I’ve got to clean up a few things against Nishikori. I’ve got to put out a certain level if I want to have opportunities. And then hopefully when those opportunities do arise, I can make the most of them.” Estrella was contesting the third round at a major for the first time at the age of 34. The right-hander became the first man from the Dominican Republic to win a Grand Slam match this week. Playing a Top 10 opponent for the first time, Estrella had the chance to extend Raonic to four sets when he served for the 3rd at 5:4, but could not close it out (there was ‘decue’).Raonic has already won six tie-breaks in three opening rounds!“[It’s been] really, amazing,” said Estrella. “I lost today, but it was my best match. I played a very good level.” In the Arthur Ashe Saturday night session, experience trumped youth as last year’s quarter-finalist Tommy Robredo ousted 19-year-old Nick Kyrgios 3-6 6-3 7-6(4) 6-3. The Spaniard prevailed in 2 hours and 28 minutes, making just 15 unforced errors to Kyrgios’ 47 and winning 68% of points on Kyrgios’ second serve. “I think that he was playing so good at the beginning,” said Robredo. “He was hitting every ball. When I was a set and nearly 3:0 down, I was believing that I could turn it around. To believe that on a moment like this, I think it’s experience.” Last year, the 32-year-old Robredo had ousted Federer to reach the last eight at Flushing Meadows for the first time. He goes on to face Stan Wawrinka, who was given a walkover into the last 16 when Blaz Kavcic withdrew with a right foot injury. Gilles Simon capitalized on 52 unforced errors from David Ferrer on Sunday to upset the fourth seed 6-3 3-6 6-1 6-3, nine minutes shy of 3 hours. Simon is through to the round of 16 for the second time at Flushing Meadows, while Ferrer suffered his earliest US Open exit since 2009 (it’s the second time in the past ten years that the Spaniard won barely one match in New York, two days earlier in the second round he was given a walkover from Tomic). It was just Simon’s second win in seven meetings with Ferrer. “I feel it was one of the hardest days for me on the court because it was hot and it was so humid,” said Simon. “I never sweated like this in the past ten years! To play David in these conditions is really demanding physically. At one point I was really tired. I felt it would be difficult. But then I had more energy and I felt he was in trouble. It’s not very often that he and I are tired like this after just two hours.” Ferrer looked totally exhausted in the last game of the match (!) in which he had a break point to lose on third match point.Marin Cilic earned his spot in the fourth round with a 6-3 3-6 6-3 6-4 victory over Kevin Anderson, halting the South African’s run of reaching the round of 16 at every major championship this year. Coached by Goran Ivanisevic, Cilic clinched his 296th tour-level victory as he took advantage of 53 unforced errors from Anderson. The Croat served more aces (13-12) and more double faults (8-7).Roger Federer booked his 14th straight appearance in the US Open fourth round after a 4-6 6-1 6-1 6-1 performance against Spaniard Marcel Granollers on a rain-interrupted Sunday evening. The second-seeded Federer trailed *2:5 against the World No. 42 in the 1st set, before a rainstorm interrupted play on the grounds of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Once matches resumed, the momentum shifted in Federer’s favour, allowing the five-time champion (2004-08) to claim the final three sets while losing only three games (the same number of games Granollers obtained on the same court last year as he was beaten 3-6 0-6 0-6 by Djokovic).“It’s been good for a while now,” said Federer. “I think especially now it’s been really excellent the last three matches here at the US Open. I feel very explosive, quick. The coordination is there, as well. I feel like I’ve gotten used to the hard courts by now. It’s really working well. I’m very pleased.” Federer will look to reach his 39th quarter-final in his last 42 Grand Slam tournaments when he faces 17th seed Roberto Bautista Agut, a 7-5 6-2 6-3 winner over Frenchman Adrian Mannarino. The Spaniard is in the midst of his deepest run at US Open, and equals his fourth-round showing in Melbourne at the start of the season. Dominic Thiem  staged an upset in the US Open third round, taking down 19th seed Feliciano Lopez 6-4 6-2 6-3 on Grandstand Court under the floodlights. “It’s my first ever US Open,” said Thiem. “It’s a special tournament, and I’m very happy to reach the Round of 16 here for the first time. I think the best thing was my return. [It] worked very well. [Lopez] played serve-and-volley most of the time. I’m mega proud.” Thiem next faces sixth seed Tomas Berdych, a 6-3 6-2 6-4 winner over Russian Teymuraz Gabashvili. “[Thiem] is really playing well. He’s showing that he plays without any nerves and any extra pressure. He just goes for it,” said Berdych, a semi-finalist in 2012. “I’m looking forward for that match.”Grigor Dimitrovsurvivedfor the first time in his career despite losing a set not winning a game, rallying past David Goffin  in a battle of ATP World Tour young guns. The Bulgarian needed 2 hours and 21 minutes to dispatch fellow 23-year-old Goffin 0-6 6-3 6-4 6-1, firing 7 aces and 29 winners, including 12 off his forehand side. “He played a great, great first set,” said Dimitrov. “Whatever I was trying to do was just not enough. He was taking every ball on the rise, penetrating through the court, coming in, volleys. His game was just too good in the first set. But I didn’t let go of my belief, especially coming into that second set. I knew that my serve was not working the way I wanted it to, so I knew I was going to struggle a little bit. But I thought if I kept a good composure and if I just stayed there mentally, I knew physically I was able to go the whole five sets. I wasn’t even thinking about that. But it was just mind over matter.”After taking the opening set in 26 minutes, Goffin had three break points to extend his winning streak to seven consecutive games. Dimitrov took control after he held for a 1:0 lead though. An hour afterwards his dominance slipped away as he led 4:0* (30/15) in the 3rd set – the Belgian managed to win four straight games, and was serving 30/15 at 4-all – ultimately he lost that game committing two double faults in succession (six all-together) which initiated another good streak for Dimitrov – consisted of six games won in a row this time.Goffin came to NYC in tremendous form, now he has won 27 of his last 29 matches (10-2 record at the main-level); and if he keeps playing on this level, he will be a seeded player at majors next year. The Haskovo native will seek to avenge a first round defeat to Gael Monfils at the 2011 US Open, when the pair meet in the fourth round on Tuesday. Monfils won his seventh meeting with countryman Richard Gasquet on Sunday, triumphing 6-4 6-2 6-2 in just 1 hour and 55 minutes. He hammered 11 aces and 50 winners, facing just one break point. The French guys met on Louis Armstrong Stadium in night session; four years ago on the same court Monfils overcame his good friend 6-4 7-5 7-5 – that fourth round match was played in day session.
Second round: ATP & the official USO site
Tommy Robredo, fared better in his grueling five-setter, coming back from two sets down for the seventh time in his career to beat Simone Bolleli 5-7 6-7(5) 6-4 6-3 6-2. Controversy was involved in the turning point of the match: at 4:5 in the 3rd set, Bolleli having saved tree set points on serve, stopped to play because one of spectators yelled ‘out’. Umpire Pascal Maria wanted to replay the point [his behavior during explanation of the decision was weird to put it mildly], but supervisor Lars Graf intervened to award Robredo the fourth set point which the Spaniard converted and never looked back. Robredo next meets Nick Kyrgios, who continued his Grand Slam hot streak with a 6-4 7-6(2) 6-4 triumph over Andreas Seppi. Kyrgios served 22 aces this time.Stan Wawrinka survived a grueling test against Thomaz Bellucci before advancing to the third round Wednesday night. Playing without fear and plenty of flair, the left-handed Brazilian was threatening to take the match to a deciding fifth set when he went up a break in the 4th. But Wawrinka, who broke back before blowing two match points on Bellucci’s serve at 5:4, steadied to gut out a 6-3 6-4 3-6 7-6(1) win under lights on Arthur Ashe Stadium. Wawrinka took immediate charge in the tie-break, claiming two mini-breaks to go ahead 3:0. Asked by ESPN how he let his momentum slip after winning the first two sets, Wawrinka said: “I was really aggressive and coming to net as much as I could. I was trying to keep the focus, but when you drop your level against a player like Bellucci, it’s tough. It was a streaky match.”John Isner will play Philipp Kohlschreiber in the US Open third round for the third year in a row. Isner booked his spot by firing 30 aces past Jan-Lennard Struff in a 7-6(5) 6-4 6-2 victory. Kohlschreiber was leading Michael Llodra, who is contesting his final Grand Slam championship, 6-2, (15/0) when the Frenchman retired. Llodra finishes his career with a 34-52 (39%) record at majors, best US Open result: 4R ten years ago. Asked about Kohlschreiber, Isner said, “No matter where I play him, I know [that] the match is going to be tough because he’s an extremely good player. I thought our matches the last two years have been pretty high quality.”Sam Querrey extended his perfect record to 4-0 versus Guillermo Garcia-Lopez on Thursday, beating the No. 28 seed 6-3 6-4 6-4 for the second time in a week. Querrey hit 16 aces and lost just six of his first service points for victory in 1 hour and 45 minutes. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, one of nine Frenchmen in the second round, was a dominant force at the net winning 24 of 29 points in a 6-3 6-4 6-4 victory over Aleksandr Nedovyesov. “I felt good on the court,” said Tsonga. “I moved pretty well. I served well. I’m in good shape.” Tenth seed Kei Nishikori advanced when his Spanish opponent, Pablo Andujar, retired when trailing 6-4 6-1 after 63 minutes of play. “It’s been a good two matches [so far],” said Nishikori. “It’s unfortunate for Pablo today, but I have been playing well. [I] had good two sets today.”Novak Djokovic recorded a devastating performance of power tennis to beat Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-1 6-3 6-0. The 2011 champion lost just five of his first service points, hit 13 aces in 87 minutes on Arthur Ashe Stadium. Mathieu hit nine double faults in the windy conditions and failed to break a 20-match losing streak against Top 10 opponents. “I wanted to get my job done as quick as possible,” said Djokovic. Andy Murray booked his US Open 3R berth with a 6-3 6-3 6-4 victory over Germany’s Matthias Bachinger under the lights of Arthur Ashe Stadium on Thursday evening. The 2012 champion and this year’s eighth seed wrapped up the match in 1 hour and 45 minutes without dropping serves. The World No. 9 showed no effects from the cramping he experienced against Haase in the first round on Tuesday. Fifth seed Milos Raonic also advanced, conquering Germany’s Peter Gojowczyk 7-6(4) 5-7 6-4 7-6(3) in the last match of the day on Louis Armstrong Stadium. Raonic, avenged his loss to Gojowczyk in Halle two months ago – their first meeting. Victor Estrella Burgos became the first player from the Dominican Republic to ever win a match at a Grand Slam with his first-round victory on Tuesday, but he kept his historic run going on Court 6 with a 7-6(2) 4-6 6-4 6-2 win over qualifier Borna Coric. The match was a battle of youth vs. experience, with the 34-year-old Estrella, the oldest player to make his main-draw debut at the US Open, against the youngest player in the draw in the 17-year-old Coric. Both players traded service holds all the way through the opening set, setting up a tie-break. The hour-long first set ultimately boiled down to two minutes, as a forehand error and missed overhead from Coric gave Estrella a commanding 5:2 lead. The world No. 80 took advantage of his lead and blasted two winners to wrap up the set. In the 3rd set Coric led 3:0* but physical tiredness caught him, and lost 12 of the next 15 games. Russian Andrey Kuznetsov also advanced with an upset of 31st seed Fernando Verdasco 6-3 4-6 4-6 7-5 6-3 in 3 hours and 12 minutes. The 23-year-old matched his best Grand Slam result; earlier this year, he beat Ferrer en route to the Wimbledon third round (also in five sets). Marin Cilic will come face-to-face with Kevin Anderson, in a repeat of this year’s Delray Beach final. Cilic, the No. 14 seed and a two-time quarter-finalist in New York City, came through a 7-6(2) 6-2 6-4 victory over qualifier Illya Marchenko – hitting 37 winners, including 9 aces. Thirty minutes earlier, Anderson had knocked out Jerzy Janowicz, in a tricky second-round encounter, 6-7(6) 6-2 6-1 6-3 to equal his best result at the US Open. Janowicz led 3:0 in the 1st set with two breaks, but since then never got another break point; he almost lost that set (saved set point serving at 4:5).Gael Monfils recorded his 15th match win at Flushing Meadows with a 7-5 6-3 6-2 victory over Alejandro Gonzalez. Seventh seed Grigor Dimitrov booked his spot in the third round after a resounding 6-1 6-2 6-2 victory over Dudi Sela in 89 minutes on Armstrong Stadium. In hitting 28 winners, including 6 aces, and winning 21 of his 29 net points, Dimitrov goes on to challenge David Goffin, who upset No. 32 seed Joao Sousa 6-4 6-2 6-0 for his 13th tour-level match win of the year. Fourth seed David Ferrer advanced without hitting a ball when his opponent, ‘wild card’ Bernard Tomic, withdrew ahead of their match due to a hip injury. Ferrer reached the semi-finals in 2007 and 2012. There were two five-setters that lasted 3 hours 45 minutes, won by Tomas Berdych and Dominic Thiem. Berdych withstood an upset bid by Slovakian Martin Klizan, with the Czech advancing 6-3 4-6 6-2 3-6 6-3 as the day session pushed into evening in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Friday. “It’s a good challenge. The conditions were tough again,” said Berdych. “You start with the sun, then you end up with the lights. It was quite windy, as well. [Klizan] played well. I’m happy to have that under my belt, to win another five-setter, and just go forward.” Fast-rising Austrian young gun Thiem stunned hitting partner and good friend Ernests Gulbis with a courageous win – Thiem’s first five-setter. The 20-year-old came from two sets down to win 4-6 6-3 6-4 6-3 6-2. Thiem, who shares coach Gunther Bresnik with the 11th-seeded Gulbis, advances to the third round, where he will play Feliciano Lopez, a 6-4 3-6 6-4 7-6(4) winner over Tatsuma Ito. Although Thiem raced to a double-break lead in the 5th set, closing out the match proved more difficult. Thiem had two match points while serving for the match at 5:2 but made four consecutive unforced errors, including three on the forehand side. But he held his nerve the following game when he broke Gulbis to clinch his 19th match win of the year. “It’s a great moment and a great day but honestly I would’ve hoped that this moment had happened against anyone other than Ernests. It was a very strange situation,” Thiem said. Gulbis struggled with his right hamstring in the last two sets (at least it was what he thought, but it turned out to be cramps).Roger Federerquite easily outplayed big-servingSam Groth 6-4 6-4 6-4 in 1 hour and 48 minutes. Groth created serious opportunity to take only the 3rd set as he had two game points to lead 5:2. Federer fired 9 aces, won 84 % of first serve points and broke serve in five of eleven opportunities. The 33-year-old Swiss continued his quest for a sixth crown in Flushing Meadows, improving to 24-1 at night on Arthur Ashe Stadium and 18-1 lifetime against Australians in Grand Slam play. His only defeat came on major debut to Patrick Rafter at Roland Garros 1999. Federer is now a career 54-1 in Grand Slam second round matches, with his lone loss coming at Wimbledon last year to Sergiy Stakhovsky. The Basel native, playing in New York for a 15th consecutive year, won his 51st match of 2014. He is the second-oldest player to claim 50 or more victories in a single season in the past 30 years, having achieved the feat with a first-round win over Matosevic. Federer will face Marcel Granollers for a spot in the Round of 16 after the unseeded Spaniard edged big-serving Ivo Karlovic 7-6(6) 6-7(3) 7-6(5) 3-6 6-4 in 3 hours and 51 minutes. Granollers overcame 31 aces, despite converting on just one of eight break points garnered… Groth was coming off his first Grand Slam match win in the first round against Albert Ramos. “I think my whole year’s left me wanting more,” said Groth. “[Ashe] is the biggest stadium you can play on and it’s a packed house on a Friday night… It’s a dream come true to play on a stadium like this, especially where I’ve come from over the last couple of years. I want to be here. I feel like I’m doing a lot of things right. I’m going to go away from this and work out what I need to get better now. I’ve improved a lot of things, but it’s time now for me to take it to the next level as well.”
Against Robin Haase, 2012 US Open champion Andy Murray was forced to draw on all his reserves to advance to the second round Monday with a 6-3 7-6(6) 1-6 7-5 victory. In his on-court interview with Sky Sports, Murray admitted, “I don’t know what it was. I was cramping after one hour and 45 minutes. I didn’t know what to do in the third set. I started to get it in my laterals and forearms when I was serving. I didn’t know whether to conserve energy or try to finish it. I tried to hang around and tried to play without using my legs much. I managed to get through. These slams are physically challenging, but I need to work out why it happened. It shouldn’t have happened, regardless of the temperature.” The 27-year-old Murray trailed 1:3* in the 2nd & *1:4 (30-all) in the 4th set – Haase had the chance to force a decider serving at 5:3, but was unable to close it out. The ailing Murray broke in the 11th game before serving out victory in 3 hours and 8 minutes. “It’s the worst I have ever felt after an hour and a half of a tennis match,” Murray said. Three years before, on the same Louis Armstrong Stadium, but in the second round, Murray defeated Haase 6-7 2-6 6-2 6-0 6-4. Rising Australian star Nick Kyrgios held on for a 7-5 7-6(4) 2-6 7-6(1) victory over 21st seed Mikhail Youzhny – the most experienced active player as far as main-level tournaments are concerned – 331st appearance (Kyrgios’ 8th…) The 19-year-old , who made his major breakthrough when he stunned Nadal to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals, saved a set point at *3:5 in the 4th set, and recovered to claim victory in just over 3 hours. Victory makes him the first teenager since Djokovic in 2006 to beat seeded players at back-to-back Grand Slam championships.“It was a tough first match playing Youzhny, someone that’s played well here in the past and last year making the quarter-finals,” said Kyrgios. “I knew I had to serve well, and I hit 26 aces. Those are good stats. I was struggling a little bit about the two-and-a-half hour mark, but I kneJohn Isnerw that if I hung in I would get that second wind where I could start playing good tennis again. That’s what happened in the fourth set.” Kyrgios, who had played just two matches since his Wimbledon run coming into the US Open, qualified into the main draw last year before losing to Ferrer in straight sets. Other Australian advanced as Matthew Ebden claimed his fourth Grand Slam main draw win by beating Tobias Kamke 6-4 6-3 7-6(2). In a 71-minute 3rd set, Ebden saved six set points (in two service games). Ivo Karlovic and Jarkko Nieminen have spent twelve years together on tour, but they faced each other just for the first time in New York ’14! There wasn’t any tie-break unexpectedly, and the Croat prevailed 6-4 6-4 3-6 6-4, serving 24 aces. In an all-French affair, Benoit Paire ousted No. 24 seed Julien Benneteau 7-6(4) 5-7 6-4 4-6 6-4 in just over 4 hours. Paire lost his previous two US Open matches in 5th set tie-breaks, and there was a considerable chance he would suffer similar loss again. He trailed 2:3* in the 5th, later on, in the 10th game French umpire Pascal Maria changed linesman’s decision which could award Paire victory on his first match point. Paire fell on his back in disbelief, argued ~two minutes, but regrouped somehow and converted his fourth match point. Former No. 7 Fernando Verdasco  claimed his 400th tour-level win Monday as he edged Blaz Rola 6-3 3-6 7-5 1-6 6-4 in the first round of the US Open, obtaining the only break of the decider when the Slovenian  was serving to stay in the match. The Spaniard needed 3 hours and 17 minutes to advance at Flushing Meadows. Ninth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was also tested in his opener, finishing strongly for a 6-3 4-6 7-6(2) 6-1 win over Juan Monaco. The Frenchman saved three set points in the 3rd set, hit 48 winners, including 20 aces. “Never easy against Juan,” he said. “He’s a good player. Today, I just did a good job. It’s good for me because the first round is always tough to go”. Did Tsonga forget he had defeated Monaco 6-3 6-3 6-0 in the Davis Cup last year? 😉 Third seed Stan Wawrinka closed out a 6-2 7-6(6) 7-6(3) win over 21-year-old Czech Jiri Vesely. The reigning Australian Open champion saved a set point in the tie-break and concluded in 2 hours, 14-minutes. Top seed Novak Djokovic opened his 2014 US Open campaign with a 6-1 6-2 6-4 win over Argentine Diego Schwartzman under the lights of Arthur Ashe Stadium on Monday. The World No. 1 was in control during the 97-minute duel, though broken once in both the first and third sets by his 5’7″ (170 cm) opponent. “I thought I hit the ball very well throughout the whole match,” said Djokovic. He next faces Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu, who edged Gilles Muller of Luxembourg 6-7(7) 7-5 7-6(6) 6-7(5) 6-1 withstanding 38 aces (the most served by any player in the first round). Fifth seed Milos Raonic began his quest for a $4 million payout at the US Open with a 6-3 6-2 7-6(1) win over qualifier Taro Daniel on Louis Armstrong Stadium. Raonic blasted 20 aces during the contest lasting 1 hour and 55 minutes, and goes on to face German qualifier Peter Gojowczyk, a 6-2 6-4 6-2 winner over countryman Benjamin Becker. “I was feeling comfortable. I was feeling like I’m doing things well,” said Raonic. “I just [need to improve] my mental discipline and physical discipline. I’ve got to play a high level throughout the entire match. I felt I fluctuated a little bit too much today.” Cheered on by basketball legend Michael Jordan, Roger Federer became the first player to claim 50 match wins this season with a straight-sets victory in round one at the US Open Tuesday night. Federer enjoyed a 6-3 6-4 7-6(4) win over Australian Marinko Matosevic to set up a second-round meeting with another Australian, big-serving 26-year-old Sam Groth. Asked about Jordan’s presence, Federer said: “I was so happy that he came into the world of tennis for a little bit and that he got to see me as the character in the whole show was pretty cool. I met him yesterday for the first time and it was a big deal for me; it’s been a special past 24 hours. We talked how I prepare, how much I play, where I go next; we exchanged ideas about our respective sports. That’s what you talk about. He was my all-sports idol growing up. NBA was big on the German TV station, the NBA highlights. That’s where I saw him do all his moves. I was into his great athleticism. That’s what inspired me.”Borna Coric, one year removed from his US Open junior title, made a victorious return to Flushing Meadows on Tuesday with a win in the first Grand Slam match of his career. The 17-year-old Croatian , who came through qualifying to earn his main draw spot, was a convincing 6-4 6-1 6-2 winner over 29th-seeded Czech Lukas Rosol – who claimed his second career ATP title at Winston-Salem last week. “It’s an amazing feeling,” said Coric, who arrived in New York with the goal of making it into the main draw. “I said to myself, ‘If I achieve that, that’s going to be perfect. Now actually winning a guy who is top 30, it’s just unbelievable.”The teenager fired 20 aces (!) in just 13 service games. World No. 7 Tomas Berdych had too much firepower for 2001 US Open champion Lleyton Hewitt on Wednesday, beating the 33-year-old Australian 6-3 6-4 6-3 in the first round. Victory marked Berdych’s 100th Grand Slam win; he is the ninth active player to accomplish the feat. From *1:4 in the 2nd set, Berdych won 11 of the following 14 games to end Hewitt’s campaign in 2 hours and 18 minutes. The Czech improved to a 3-0 lead over Hewitt in their H2H series. “I feel pretty good,” said Berdych. “It’s a tough opponent, a big challenge. The conditions were extremely tough today. The heat, the wind, and facing Lleyton for the first round, it’s not what you really want to have. But otherwise, when you are prepared and feel good, that’s a perfect start.” The 28-year-old Berdych was a semi-finalist at Flushing Meadows in 2012 and has a 25-11 tournament record. He goes on to challenge Martin Klizan, who rallied from a two-set deficit to beat Steve Darcis 3-6 2-6 7-6(5) 7-5 6-4, being two points away from defeat in 3rd and 4th sets. Marin Cilic was leading 6-3 3-1 when Marcos Baghdatis was forced to retire from their first-round contest with a right ankle injury. Thanks to retirement his first match in 14th Grand Slam attempt won ItalianPaolo Lorenzi as well. Cilic, a two-time quarter-finalist at Flushing Meadows, next will face qualifier Illya Marchenko, who defeated Marco Chiudinelli 7-6(3) 4-6 7-6(13) 7-6(4) in a 4-hour 19-minute battle (the Ukrainian saved 5 set points in the 3rd set tie-break). After opening exits on their three/two previous visits to Flushing Meadows, Grigor Dimitrov/Jerzy Janowiczclaimed their first US Open victories as they defeated: Ryan Harrison /h5, withdrew ahead of their match due to a hip injury. Ferrer reached the semi-finals in 2007 and 2012. and Dusan Lajovic respectively, on Wednesday. Dimitrov converted 5 of his 13 break point chances and hit 37 winners to claim victory in just over 2 hours, Janowiczneeded one hour more.There were two encounters concluded in 5th set tie-breaks: No. 32 seed Joao Sousa prevailed against Frank Dancevic 7-6(6) 3-6 6-2 4-6 7-6(2) – 3 hours and 32 minutes, finishing the contest after a spectacular rally (overhead in the end). The Portuguese already led 5:2* in the deciding set. He has won three five-setters in his career, all in New York Meanwhile No. 20 Kevin Anderson fought from a break down in the final set to earn his place in the second round with a 6-3 6-7(3) 4-6 6-2 7-6(1) victory over Pablo Cuevas. The Uruguayan led 5:3* (30/15) in the decider, but was unable to close it out as Anderson battled back for victory in just over 4 hours. Other tall guy, Sam Querrey fired 30 aces (six in a row) to slightly improve his poor five-set record (3-9) as he overcame Argentinian journeyman Maximo Gonzalez… 6-3 in the final set. Besides Querrey, also John Isner and Tim Smyczek reached the second round – the fewest Americans in the tournament history!