NEW YORK, August 30 – World number two Simona Halep, sixth-seed Angelique Kerber and two time champion Venus Williams tumbled out of the US Open on Friday as upsets wreaked havoc on the women’s field.
French Open champion Maria Sharapova was trying to avoid the upset bug when she took the court against Sabine Lisicki for the night’s final match.
Instead the fifth-seeded Russian was hoping to match the smooth progress of men’s second seed Roger Federer, who found a way past the booming serve of Sam Groth in a 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 second round victory over the 104th-ranked Australian.
“You don’t get much time to adjust,” said Federer, who returned one 142 mph (228.53 Km/h) Groth serve for a winner.
“He’s a big server, my arm’s still vibrating,” added Federer, whose nine aces nevertheless topped Groth’s eight.
Women’s seeds found it heavy going earlier in the day, with two players at opposite ends of the tennis age spectrum producing stunning upsets to reach the fourth round.
Croatian Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, a former phenom now a 32-year-old veteran who had to fight through qualifying, shocked second-seeded Halep, the French Open runner-up, 7-6 (8/6), 6-2.
And 17-year-old Swiss Belinda Bencic toppled Germany’s Kerber 6-1, 7-5.
The reward for the 121st-ranked Lucic-Baroni is a fourth-round meeting with 13th-seeded Italian Sara Errani, who thwarted Williams 6-0, 0-6, 7-6 (7/5).
“It’s incredible, amazing, I feel goofy,” said Lucic-Baroni, who reached a Grand Slam fourth round for the first time since making it to the 1999 Wimbledon semi-finals as a 17-year-old.
Bencic, the 2013 Wimbledon and French Open junior champion, now ranked 58th in the world, earned a meeting with former world number one Jelena Jankovic, a 6-1, 6-0 winner over Sweden’s Johanna Larsson.
After dropping the lopsided first set, Kerber appeared poised to knot the match, but she couldn’t convert three set points.
Bencic, coached by former Swiss great Martina Hingis’ mother Melanie Molitor, seized her chance.
“It’s amazing that after last year I played juniors here, and this year I’m in the fourth round,” Bencic said. “So it’s incredible.”
The last Grand Slam of the year has now lost four of its top 10 women’s seeds, after the second-round departures of Agnieszka Radwanska and Ana Ivanovic.
– Errani holds off Venus –
Errani’s triumph over 19th-seeded Williams wasn’t strictly speaking an upset, but the 13th-seeded Italian had to dig deep to notch her first career victory over the American after three defeats.
“I know that was a really tough match, even if I won the first set 6-0 she’s an amazing player,” Errani said.
And as she expected, seven-time Grand Slam champion Williams battled back, racing through the second set to set up a third that turned into a slugfest.
Williams twice came back from a break down in the third, then broke Errani to serve for the match at 5-3.
She couldn’t hang on, however, surrendering her serve as they battled to the tiebreaker, in which Errani took a 5-2 lead only for Williams to battle back to 5-5 before at last succumbing.
Errani was infected by the electric atmosphere in the Ashe stadium, even though she knew the frantic fans were for her opponent.
“I was shaking for the crowd,” she said. “Was unbelievable good. I think I will remember forever that moment.”
China’s Peng Shuai, showing no sign of a let-down after her second-round win over Radwanska, dispatched another seeded player in number 28 Roberta Vinci 6-4, 6-3.
She set up a meeting with 14th-seeded Czech Lucie Safarova, a 6-3, 6-7 (5/7), 6-4 winner over France’s Alize Cornet.
Men’s second-round action was relatively tame.
Fourth-seeded David Ferrer reached the third round without lifting his racquet when unpredictable Aussie Bernard Tomic withdrew with a hip injury.
Sixth-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych needed five sets but got the job done against Slovakian Martin Klizan 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 and Wimbledon semi-finalist Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria continued his best-ever US Open with a 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 victory over Israeli Dudi Sela.
Austrian Dominic Thiem rallied from two sets down to defeat 11th-seeded Latvian Ernests Gulbis 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3, but 12th-seeded Frenchman Richard Gasquet, Croatia’s 14th-seeded Marin Cilic, 18th seed Kevin Anderson of South Africa, 19th seed Feliciano Lopez and 20th seed Gael Monfils all advanced.