Evo, Evo & Evo. Carnage as Osaka & Tsitsipas out – Day 5 US Open.

At two sets down to Alexei Popyrin, I thought Evo’s reasons for pulling out in the doubles weren’t just precautionary. In hindsight, I probably wasn’t giving Popyrin enough credit for how he was playing. The Aussie was serving huge and his forehand was tearing through the court. All I asked was Evo stuck in there and tried to work his way up the court a bit more and make a real match of it, he did much more than that. It is a win that makes me immensely proud and I know there will be a lot of fans loving this with me. Can you blame us? There was a point in the fifth where Popyrin had looked like he was upping his level again but Evo stayed with him, always making him play an extra ball or two. The last three sets were a joy to watch and when push came to shove in the final set breaker Evans was solid, aggressive, moving up the court and really took it to his opponent. It is the first time Evo has made the last 16 in New York and his prize for all his hard work will be a match against the in-form Daniil Medvedev. Evans says he doesn’t like the phrase ‘a free match’ but that is how this will be seen. There is nothing to lose against the second seed who was again impressive against the Spaniard Pablo Andujar. The bookmakers make Medvedev a top-priced 1/16 (1.06) and it will be interesting to see how Evans can mix it up here and see what comes of it. Also through in this quarter are Diego Schwartzman and the qualifier Botic Van de Zandschulp who will play each other. The Argentine is yet to drop a set yet, whereas Van De Zandschulp has dropped the opening set in each of his matches including qualies.

There were a host of upsets in this half last night. Stefanos Tsitsipas lost to Carlos Alcaraz. It is fair to say even though the cat has been out of the bag for a while that Alcaraz has fully announced himself on the scene. There just doesn’t seem to be that many weak areas to his game, in the decider he showed this by hitting big forehands and backhands and volleying well. The New York crowd were on Tsitsipas’s back in light of the scrutiny on his toilet breaks and it is clear he is aware of this now as he took under four minutes when taking them this time. You could see the weaknesses in Stefanos’ game come to the forefront again here at crucial moments and it was the Spaniard who showed the more mental steel. Peter Gojowczyk is next and he will be playing in his first fourth round. Another seed and one of my tips to go were Andrey Rublev. I sent my mate a text before the match saying that I was feeling uncomfortable about this match against Frances Tiafoe who I had mentioned in my preview was a danger. So exhausted was I from the days play that I missed this with the match finishing past 7 am in the UK. The general gist seemed to be that Tiafoe took advantage of the Russians weaker second serve and in the fifth set, the American upped the ante impressively on his forehand, hitting it harder than he had all match. There is a strong belief in him at the moment. Next for him is Felix Auger Aliassime who also won in five sets against Roberto Bautista Agut. Felix had led by two sets and a break before letting the Spaniard back in but there was no panic or any of the frailties that we have seen previously on offer from FAA.

I have said this a few times during the event but I didn’t see Noami Osaka falling last night. Whenever I have watched Leylah Fernandez I have been impressed but the US Open, Naomi Osaka and a late-night match? I thought that would be all a bit too much. Osaka even served for this in the second but when Fernandez broke back and took the set on a breaker it was her level that remained exceptionally high. It has bought up a few questions that people think Naomi may have issues with lefties. She has also said that she might take a fair bit of time out now after this defeat saying she feels relieved when she wins and very sad when she loses. Fernandez will play Angie Kerber who won a really high-quality encounter against Sloane Stephens as two former champions went toe-to-toe. Angie showed her battling, scrapping qualities once again to reel in the set deficit she trailed by. This was a good match on the eye. Sloane played really well but just ran out of legs and steam at the end in the 5/7 6/2 6/3 defeat. Also in this section, Elina Svitolina continued her dominance against Daria Kasatkina, winning 6/2 6/4 and she will play Simona Halep next who knocked out Elena Rybakina. The Kazak should have probably won an extended first set breaker and even though she levelled the match and went an early break up in the third, she couldn’t quite maintain the controlled aggression that is needed to beat the former world number one. Both players looked to be struggling physically, with visits from the trainer and Rybakina has pulled out of her doubles after. Simona lives to fight another day.

Garbine Muguruza outlasted Vika Azarenka and that is of great disappointment to me. I think I thought Vika had found her form on these courts again but she just seems to be missing that killer instinct when it comes down to it now. When she didn’t break early in the decider, she fell away here, losing the last four games. This was apparently a decent standard for the first two sets. We will see where Muguruza is at next when she plays Barbora Krejcikova, who is easing her way through here once again. It may only have been against a lucky loser in Kamilla Rakhimova but as I always say you can only beat what is put in front of you and the Czech seems to do that pretty well these days. Elise Mertens beat Ons Jabeur in straights, though she had to break for both sets having failed to serve them out. Jabeur was very hit and miss here. Mertens will play Aryna Sabalenka in the fourth round after the Belarusian put in her strongest performance of the championships so far against the tricky Danielle Collins. Sabalenka had Collins deep behind the baseline and saved three from three breakpoints. Impressive stuff from the second seed.

Al Davies (Andy Del Potro).

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