2011 U.S. OPEN WEEKEND UPDATE: The Tsonga, Serena and Young Trains Roll On ... Blake And Stephens Derailed
Monday, September 5, 2011
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, France
Jo-Willie Tsonga, the No. 11 seed, imposed his bigger, higher-risk game on Fernando Verdasco and triumphed convincingly in straight sets, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4, in a marquee matchup of two sluggers known for their aesthetically pleasing, but also bruising, tennis.
The early Saturday evening match was technically the last of the day session, beginning roughly the same time as the Ashe night session, and day ticketholders packed the Grandstand to overflow, with lines stretching around the block to get in.
Surely, though, this will be Tsonga’s last match on Grandstand; next up, in the Round of 16, he plays the red-hot American Mardy Fish.
Serena Williams, USA
Despite her No. 28 seed, Serena came in as the consensus favorite and proved to be just that, dropping only three games in her first two matches against Serbia’s Bojana Jovanovski and the Netherlands’ Michaella Krajicek, respectively. In the third round, the 29-year-old three-time Open champion looked poised to take a fourth, knocking out the No. 4 seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, 6-1, 7-6(5) on Saturday.
Next up, Serena will face No. 16 seed Ana Ivanovic of Serbia, the 2008 French Open champ, who has also breezed through her matches in straight sets. The road from there should only get tougher as five top-10 seeds remain: No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, No. 2 Vera Zvonareva, No. 7 Francesca Schiavone, No. 9 Samantha Stosur and No. 10 Andrea Petkovic.
Donald Young, USA
In front of a boisterous and supportive crowd on Sunday, American Donald Young defeated the No. 24 seed Juan Ignacio Chela of Argentina to reach the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time in his career. Young played smart, gritty tennis, matching Chela’s consistent baseline game when he needed to and employing more offensive firepower than his higher-ranked opponent. Young hit 46 winners to Chela’s 19, and converted on five of 10 break point opportunities to take a hard-fought 7-5, 6-4, 6-3 win.
This latest upset for the No. 84-ranked Young continues a roll like no other he's had in the pros. His three wins here equal the number of Grand Slam victories he’s had in his entire career, having won two matches at the 2007 US Open and one match at the 2010 Australian Open. It follows on the heels of his second round win over the No. 14 seed Stanislas Wawrinka, a match that saw Young score the first five-set victory of his career. His ranking had fallen to No. 146 as recently as this past February, but Young came into the Open with the highest ranking he's had since May of 2008, and after this tournament it will climb much higher.
"This is what you work for, this is what you dream of," Young said after his win. "I'm just excited to be able to do this in New York, in my home country's major."
James Blake, USA
Friday was a day of missed opportunities for James Blake. The American, a quarterfinalist here in 2005 and 2006, found himself with a break advantage in both the second and third sets against No. 5 seed David Ferrer, but couldn't quite capitalize in front of a boisterous home crowd.
Ferrer, the Spaniard, broke back in each of the last two sets, winning the match 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 on Grandstand.
It was "The People's Court" to start the afternoon -- or at least seemed that way. Blake, once a top-10 player and a Harvard grad with New York ties, looked primed to capitalize on a maximum-capacity crowd that was loudly in his corner.
For Blake, it was the first time since 2001 that he hasn't advanced past the second round at the Open. He has continued to climb his way back from a right knee injury this year and at one point was ranked as low as No. 173 in the world. He entered into the Open this year ranked 63rd.
Sloane Stephens, USA
American teenager Sloane Stephens lost in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4 to Serbian Ana Ivanovic on Friday evening. She never really seemed able to find her footing, but did attempt to do so as the match went on. Unfortunately, sufficient response to give herself a fighting chance never materialized.
Post match she said “I was so caught up in being tight and nervous and not really handling the situation well to just freaking out, like, ‘What are you doing?’ ” Stephens said. “I was thinking like a 10-year-old. Everything kind of got to me at the end. I tried to fight it as best I could. But at some point, it catches up to you.”
“My serve is something that I usually can count on, and today it wasn’t there.”