Sunday, September 2, 2018

Thiem upsets Anderson to reach U.S. Open quarters

Kevin Anderson of the host Sacramento Capitals serves in
a 2012 World TeamTennis match. Photo by Paul Bauman
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   Dominic Thiem's chances against Kevin Anderson didn't look good.
   Anderson was 6-1 against Thiem entering their fourth-round match today in the U.S. Open, with Thiem's victory coming on clay in their last meeting in May.
   The 6-foot-8 (2.03-meter) Anderson had reached last year's U.S. Open final, while the 6-foot-1 (1.85-meter) Thiem had never advanced past the fourth round in Flushing Meadows.
   Anderson, 32, also had something of a home-court advantage. Although he's South African, he starred at the University of Illinois and lives in Florida with his American wife. Thiem, from Austria, has no such connections to the United States.
   None of it mattered, as the ninth-seeded Thiem beat the fifth-seeded Anderson 7-5, 6-2, 7-6 (2) at Louis Armstrong Stadium. Thiem won 41 of 45 points (91 percent) on his first serve and 30 of 46 (65 percent) on his second serve, faced no break points, had 42 winners and only 13 unforced errors, and won 19 of 22 points (86 percent) at the net.
   "I served really, really well today," Thiem, who will turn 25 on Monday, told reporters. "Not the best percentage (49), but I almost made every point in the first-serve game. So I didn't face one break point, and I didn't feel so much pressure on service games.
   "So it was a little it easier to play the return games. I could change my return position, and this helped me a lot. And also the court, I think, made a big difference. It's a huge court. I could go very far back like I do on clay usually."
   Thiem is scheduled to play No. 1 seed Rafael Nadal on Tuesday in a rematch of this year's French Open final, won by the Spaniard 6-4, 6-3, 6-2. Nadal leads the head-to-head series, all on clay, 7-3.
   In the other quarterfinal in the top half of the draw, No. 3 seed Juan Martin del Potro will meet No. 11 John Isner. Del Potro, who has had four wrist operations since winning the 2009 U.S. Open, dismissed No. 20 Borna Coric of Croatia. Isner topped Milos Raonic 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2.
   Del Potro, who will turn 30 on Sept. 23, is 7-4 against Isner, 33, but Isner has won four of the last seven meetings.
   In the women's quarterfinals in the top half of the draw, No. 17 seed Serena Williams will face No. 8 Karolina Pliskova, and No. 3 Sloane Stephens will play No. 19 Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia.
   Williams, a six-time U.S. Open champion who has a residence in Silicon Valley, beat unseeded Kaia Kanepi of Latvia 6-0, 4-6, 6-3. Kanepi stunned No. 1 seed Simona Halep in the first round.
   Pliskova, the U.S. Open runner-up two years ago to Angelique Kerber, beat No. 18 Ashleigh Barty of Australia 6-4, 6-4.
   Williams, who will turn 37 on Sept. 26, and Pliskova, 26, have split two career matches. Williams won 7-5, 6-2 in the second round at Stanford in 2014, and Pliskova triumphed 6-2, 7-6 (5) in the U.S. Open semifinals in 2016.
   Stephens, a 25-year-old Fresno product, outclassed No. 15 seed Elise Mertens of Belgium 6-3, 6-3. Sevastova, a U.S. Open quarterfinalist for the past two years, topped No. 7 Elina Svitolina of Ukraine 6-3, 1-6, 6-0.
   Stephens is 2-1 against Sevastova, 28, winning 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (4) in last year's U.S. Open quarterfinals and 6-2, 6-2 last month in the Montreal quarters.
   In the third round of women's doubles today, No. 2 seeds Timea Babos of Hungary and Kristina Mladenovic of France defeated No. 14 Raquel Atawo (Cal, 2001-04) of Sacramento and Anna-Lena Groenefeld of Germany 6-3, 6-4. Babos and Mladenovic won the Australian Open this year and reached the 2014 Wimbledon final.

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