El Peque exposes Sascha & Bencic silences crowd – Day 8 US Open.

Long matches and brutal points are becoming synonymous with Sascha Zverev. The German had got away with it New York against Albot, Tiafoe and Bedene. It is not something you want to get involved in with Diego Schwartzman however. El Peque loves a scrap and he made sure he turned this into one. He cleverly wore Zverev down and was quite often the player ripping a winner at the end of an energy-sapping point. From the moment he broke back in the third you always felt a four-set win was on the cards. His reward be will be another meeting with Rafa Nadal. The head-to-head is 7-0 Nadal but El Peque has given a very good account of himself several times. Rafa was pegged back to one set all against Marin Cilic before putting his foot on the gas and running away with it in four.

I was pretty disappointed with Andrey Rublev’s level against Matteo Berrettini and that’s not just due to the fact I had backed him to win the quarter just before. Rublev didn’t really find his level until he was a set and a breakdown against the big Italian. That’s just not going to cut the mustard. Berrettini was playing some inspired stuff, as he has done most of the season and an effort in a major like this has been on the cards. Gael Monfils will be his opponent in the last 8 after he walloped Pablo Andujar as expected. How will Gael’s body fair up? It is key to any chance he has in New York and Berrettini will be sure to test it a lot more.

I did manage to catch the end of Belinda Bencic taking out defending champion Naomi Osaka. By all account, the last few games summed the match up. Osaka played pretty well but Bencic was superb. Taking the ball ‘on’ on the backhand and forehand side and landing some pretty heavy winners in the process. The New York crowd were silenced by the performance and you could hear a pin drop after the ‘Swiss Miss’ closed it out. It says a lot for Naomi’s popularity but that was an impressive effort from Bencic. She will fancy making the semis now as she will play Donna Vekic next after the Croat was gifted a reprieve by Julia Goerges, who blew up serving for it at 5/4 in the second. There was even a match point for the German but double faults were regularly popping up at the worst times thereafter.

Thankfully for my tips, Bianca Andreescu took out Taylor Townsend. The American wasn’t as successful with her net play here as she had been and despite dropping the second set Andreescu came through relatively untroubled. It has been a very good tournament for Taylor though, let’s see if she can kick-on from here. Elise Mertens makes up our last 8 club. The Belgian has very much gone under the radar here and continued that with a 6/1 6/1 victory over Kristie Ahn. The American thought she had played pretty well but conceded to Mertens all-round brilliance.

It is really hotting up now. Business end stuff.

Andy Del Potro

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