I am still not quite sure how Ash Barty has blown a 5/2 double break lead in the third set against Shelby Rogers last night but she has. I just wouldn’t have expected this from her when she is riding the wave of confidence as she currently is. From what I saw of this she couldn’t get things going for a set and Rogers was smashing winners. In the second set, she used plenty of variation, including chip charging to turn it around and this is when I started nodding off. The reality and the reports I have read since waking up are something I would not expect to read. Rogers got herself back into this with a mixture of power and chucking in a few moonballs. The defeat will be good news for Emma Raducanu who was quite incredible in beating Sara Sorribes Tormo for the loss of just one game in her 6/0 6/1 victory. This was almost a double bagel but the Spaniard managed to hold a long game when 0/6 0/5. Raducanu was working the points sensationally and she said that “the plan was I had to hit through her and into the corners”. I think she executed that exceptionally well against a very, very experienced campaigner who has been playing well lately.
Belinda Bencic is another huge beneficiary of the top seed falling. She is coasting at the moment, this time after a comfortable 6/2 6/4 win over Jessica Pegula. The tests are getting tougher for her though and we will see how she gets on against Iga Swiatek, who has made the last 16 of all four slams this season. The Pole juts edged out Anett Kontaveit in three. Karolina Pliskova was also a straight-set winner against Ajla Tomljanovic with her serve getting a lot of cheap points once again, the Aussie being partly responsible for her own demise though. Pliskova will play Pavlyuchenkova after the French Open runner-up comfortably beat Varvara Gracheva. It is clear to see that Pavy has raised her level all around these days, especially in the majors. Maria Sakkari beat a misfiring Petra Kvitova 6/4 6/3, Sakkari was too consistent here and it sounds like Petra never got going. Sakkari now meets Bianca Andreescu who put in a very clean display against Greet Minnen for the loss of just three games, the backhand producing a lot of winners.
Novak Djokovic dropped the opening set against Kei Nishikori. I feel this is starting to become a bit of a theme in certain matches for Nole in his quest for history. There is usually a mention that he was ‘passive’ and that he ‘found his rhythm’ after losing the opener. The head to head is now extended to 18-2 and though this looked reasonably comfortable, Nishikori did keep him on his toes. Jenson Brooksby will be his next opponent in the fourth round. The American (who has Andy Murray as one of his biggest fans) looked down and out here having lost a set and a break lead, to trail by two sets to one against Aslan Karatsev. The crowd support dragged him along here and after having the trainer out in the fourth set it was instead the Russian who was error-prone and looking tired by the end. Oscar Otte has made his first fourth round at a slam after beating 37-year-old Andreas Seppi in four sets and his reward will be a matchup against Matteo Berrettini. The Italian wasn’t at his best in his five-set victory over Ilya Ivashka, his opponent has been on a hot streak lately with eight straight victories but ultimately Berrettini served his way out of trouble when needed.
Alex Zverev dropped his first set of the championships against Jack Sock, the American came out really firing here in the opener and Zverev said after that “when he plays like that, I’ve never seen anyone playing at that level”. A right thigh/groin injury picked up in the second set here put pay to Sock’s chances though and Zverev did the necessaries before the retirement in the fourth set, when Zverev led by two sets to one. Sascha will play Jannik Sinner who could have beaten Gael Monfils in straights but blew a 4/3 lead in the third (with a break) and 4/0 lead in the fourth, losing six straight games and the set. It is clear that Sinner doesn’t like front running and the crowd were (as usual) loving Monfils and it made for great viewing. Monfils the showman was in full flight last night. It was a very disappointing defeat for Dennis Shapovalov and another tip gone. He hasn’t been in great form since Wimbledon but I thought he might be able to go a few rounds and build his confidence. Lloyd Harris caused him all sorts of problems yesterday with his big serving and solid baseline game, the Canadian wasn’t impressed with his personal performance and said he ‘broke himself’. Harris faces Reilly Opelka who beat Nikoloz Basilashvili in straights. The Georgian blew break leads in both of the first two sets.
I am really looking forward to Evo v Medvedev later, second on the Ashe.
Al Davies (Andy Del Potro).