I was obviously very pleased to see Evo get through that yesterday. Once again I thought he dug deep when the match looked to be turning against him. He played a decent few sets to lead by two sets to love and when Marcos Giron upped his level to win the third, Evans reset and went again to win in four. Solihull’s finest doing everything a little better than his opponent who chucked in a duff game at 4-4 in the fourth and Evo didn’t flinch. It is the fourth time he has reached the last 32 in NYC and I am hoping he can break his duck at this stage by beating Alexei Popyrin on Friday. The Aussie took out Grigor Dimitrov, who retired when well beat in the third set when two sets and double break down. I have to say when I saw Evo playing yesterday, with Henman once again courtside I am gutted that I am not there this year. Two heroes within a few metres of each other. Great stuff! Evans did beat Popyrin at Queens this year but acknowledged his opponent will be a lot more comfortable here than on the grass. I firmly believe that if he takes care of his own game it will be more than enough to make the last 16.
Daniil Medvedev is still cruising through this section and having been broken back in the first set against Dominik Koepfer he raced through in no time. I have always rated Koepfer but the truth is he doesn’t have anything to really hurt the Russian in this matchup. Pablo Andujar is next for the second seed after he crushed Philipp Kohlschreiber. Diego Schwartzman also progressed in this quarter after changing courts midmatch against Kevin Anderson. The rain meant this was stop-start and there was even a leak on the Louis Armstrong roof during this. It was later moved on to the Ashe and the Argentine managed to get into enough points in his return games to take this in three. Casper Ruud was the biggest name to fall in this half as he went down to Botic Van De Zandschulp. The qualifier enjoying his time in New York and when push came to shove he played the bigger points better here, including saving a host of breakpoints to prevail in four.
Stefanos Tsitsipas was criticised again by his opponent after beating Adrian Mannarino in four sets. Stefanos took another of his infamous toilet breaks having lost the third set….he then bageled Mannarino in the fourth. The Frenchman said, “If you’ve lost a set, you’re upset, it pauses you, you breathe a bit, you bring the temperature down. I’m not saying it changed the course of the game, but maybe things need to be changed”. There was also a mention of unsportsmanlike conduct with these types of breaks. The win sets up an intriguing matchup against Carlos Alcaraz. Andrey Rublev struggled with his game for two sets against Pedro Martinez but after one of the rain delays at one set all, he managed to come back out and play well in the next two. Other winners today were Felix Auger Aliassime, Frances Tiafoe and Roberto Bautista Agut, all three seem to be playing pretty well and FAA and RBA square-off next.
Sloane Stephens was really impressive in beating Coco Gauff 6/4 6/2. It was a decent all-around performance but particularly the serve where she served at 84% first serves and won 80% of them and 75% behind her second serve. Coco looked pretty deflated by the end and as much as I respect her parents who have done a fantastic job I think they may need to work on their body language during matches like this. Maybe it is just me but I thought it was clear of their frustration last night and though I don’t think it changed the result, going forward it is something they might want to address. I can fully appreciate how disappointed they must have been, why wouldn’t they be? Maybe just for Coco’s sake though as by 4-2 in the second set they looked to have accepted defeat easier than Gauff. It was a really good performance from the 2017 Champ though and that shouldn’t be taken away from her. It might be Angie Kerber next for Stephens but her match with Anhelina Kalinina did not make it on court. What a rockhard draw. Still plenty of time for Coco and as I always say it is hard to believe she is still only 17!
Naomi Osaka progressed without playing when Olga Danilovic withdrew before the match with a non-related COVID virus. Leylah Fernandez is waiting for her in the third round. Simona Halep seems to have shrugged off her recent injury worries as she easily beat Kristina Kucova 6/3 6/1. It will start to get much tougher for her now though as she plays Elena Rybakina. The Kazak came out firing to beat Caroline Garcia in just over an hour in what was another good serving display from her. Elina Svitolina was every bit as comfortable in her win over Rebeka Masarova and she will face a matchup that will have plenty of extended rallies when she plays Daria Kasatkina. The Russian beating a fading Marketa Vondrousova who seemed to be hampered by a leg injury late doors.
Aryna Sabalenka was much improved from her first outing, this time against Tamara Zidansek but we will see what she is made of next against Danielle Collins. On paper, this looks like it could be a horrid matchup despite leading the head-to-head 2-0. They haven’t played for two years though and three years ago when they did play in NYC, the Belarussian won in three. This will be interesting though. Vika Azarenka and Garbine Mugurua were both winners in straight sets to book a place against one another on Friday. Vika struggled more than we all would have thought against Jasmine Paolini. The Italian extended this to a second set breaker. Muguruza was more in control though she will need to serve much better than she did against Andrea Petkovic, we know how strong Azarenka is off the ground. Ons Jabeur and Elise Mertens are also through, only dropping five games between the pair of them. Finally, French Open Champion, Barbora Krejcikova continues her fine form for the season after walloping Christina McHale and will see Kamilla Rakhimova as a kind draw for a place in the fourth round. She has tended to beat everyone she should since becoming a grand slam champion.
Al Davies (Andy Del Potro).