Rena was looking in good nick again against Carina Witthoeft. The serve was firing and so was the return game, as she was all over the Witthoeft delivery. She said after it is just about getting to the line and serving and not putting too much thought behind it, as she is good at it. Damn right you are!! Same stips at Wimbledon, one game at a time. The next one sadly is against Venus, it seems far too early to happen but it is. Venus did enough against Camila Giorgi but it wasn’t plain sailing and she once again didn’t look to be moving at 100%. Things can change though. I am hoping I will be courtside for this on Friday.
Other winners in this section were Kaia Kanepi, who backed up her victory over Halep with a 6/4 6/3 win over Jill Teichmann and will play the Swede, Rebecca Peterson next. Sofia Kenin caused a mini-upset beating Maria Sakkari and will now play Karolina Pliskova, who put in a better effort than in recent weeks against Ana Bogdan. Garbine Muguruza has gone though. Her poor form continues as she lost to Karolina Muchova, who had far too much variation for the Spaniard. Ash Barty is her next opponent, for a place in the Last 16.
Sloane Stephens got herself out of a sticky situation against Anhelina Kalinina, who impressed on the big stage on The Ashe Court. She couldn’t quite maintain her level as the match wore on though and Sloane stayed calm enough to get through, finding a way to win. The defending Champ will be delighted to have got her way through this but it won’t get any easier now. She will play Vika Azarenka next who is once again showing how decent she is on the US hardcourts. She thrashed Daria Gavrilova. This should be a screamer of a third round, like Serena/Venus.
Elina Svitolina gained revenge over Tatjana Maria for her defeat at Wimbledon and will play Qiang Wang next, much better from Svitolina than against Vickery in the last round. Ekaterina Makarova knocked out one of my tip in Julia Goerges. She lost to her last week in New Haven but played out of her nut yesterday to take out the German. Serving pretty big in fairness, winning a tight first set breaker was key here as a single break did it in the second. Sevastova next for Makarova. Elise Mertens put in a much-improved performance against Vera Lapko, saying she felt better than her opening round. Her comprehensive victory sets her up for Barbora Strycova next.
We have been denied Muzza v Delpo in the third round after the Brits lost to Fernando Verdasco. I for one was looking forward to seeing that over in NYC but it wasn’t meant to be. We all know this is a long road back from the hip injury for Murray and finding the level he was at won’t be easy, if at all possible. It is great to have him back though and it would have been nice to see him have a crack at Delpo, which would probably have been under the lights in New York. Muzza did look tired at times and was seen holding his knee, it shows why he has been very selective with his choice of tournaments over the last few months. Obviously, the extreme heat and humidity in NYC is just adding to fatigue and quite clearly not just for Muzza. There was an incident during the heatwave rule whereby Murray saw Verdasco speaking to his coach, which is not allowed, he was not impressed the tournament let this happen and that’s fair enough. Delpo continues to impress as he steam-rollered Denis Kudla in straights, posting some particularly good service stats in this one. The Argentine realises the importance of getting these matches won with minimal fuss these days.
Rafa Nadal coasted through to a third round encounter with Karen Khachanov. That will be his first mini test against the talented, big-hitting Russian. He comfortably chewed up Vasek Pospisil last night. Rafa was broken just once and was in cruise control. Khachanov will be a step up but one he has dealt with before.
Elsewhere, Nikoloz Basilashvili ended Jack Sock’s hopes with a four-set win. Dominic Thiem edged past Steve Johnson in five, with the American going over on his ankle in the second set but getting on with the job. Taylor Fritz next for Thiem. Denis Shapovalov outlasted Andreas Seppi in another five-setter, coming from two sets to one down. The firepower was evident but the consistency wasn’t. It is always going to be a hard day against Seppi when it’s like that. Kevin Anderson will be his next opponent after beating Jeremy Chardy who was having problems with his eyesight. Not ideal when you have last years runner-up throwing bombs down at you.
Stefanos Tsitsipas, my tip for the second quarter has gone to Daniil Medvedev. I was hoping this wasn’t too early for my boy but it was and he hasn’t dealt with the heat particularly well, like many. Medvedev is now on an eight-match winning streak, Borna Coric next for the Russian.
John Isner came back from the brink against the talented Nicolas Jarry. The Chilean had a two sets to one lead but Isner fought back to take the last two. Jarry is on the verge of some really good stuff but he is still finding the formula for getting over the line at times, this will come though. He has a big all-court game and is decent to watch, as you may be able to tell I am a big fan of NJ. Isner lives to fight another day though and will play Dusan Lajovic who knocked out Cameron Norrie, who had his chances but couldn’t capitalise.
Stan Wawrinka and Milos Raonic will face-off in the third round after wins over Ugo Humbert and Gilles Simon respectively. Should be a highly competitive affair and one that I might just get myself down to watch on Friday. Neither are playing at there peak but both are trying their best to find it again. Stan has certainly shown some encouraging signs of late.
Andy Del Potro