Sunday, September 5, 2021

18-year-olds Fernandez, Alcaraz reach Open quarters

   Those victories by Leylah Fernandez and Carlos Alcaraz over the No. 3 seeds on Friday were no flukes.
   The 18-year-olds have reached their first Grand Slam quarterfinals in the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   Fernandez, a Canadian, defeated No. 16 seed Angelique Kerber 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2 today in a battle of left-handers after stunning Naomi Osaka. It was the second consecutive match in which Fernandez, who will turn 19 on Monday, came within a tiebreaker of losing in straight sets to a U.S. Open champion and former world No. 1.
   As it is, Fernandez's victory assures a first-time U.S. Open finalist.
   Alcaraz, from Spain, outlasted qualifier Peter Gojowczyk of Germany 5-7, 6-1, 5-7, 6-2, 6-0 after ousting Stefanos Tsitsipas in five sets. Alcaraz became the youngest U.S. Open men's quarterfinalist in the Open Era, which began in 1968.
   Fernandez is scheduled to play No. 5 seed Elina Svitolina, a Ukrainian who dismissed No. 12 seed Simona Halep 6-3, 6-3. Halep, who won the French Open in 2018 and Wimbledon in 2019, was playing in her third tournament since missing three months with a calf tear.
   In the other quarterfinal in the bottom half of the women's draw, No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka is set to play No. 8 seed Barbora Krejcikova, who defeated No. 9 seed Garbiñe Muguruza 6-3, 7-6 (4). Krejcikova, the reigning French Open champion, left the court for a nine-minute medical timeout late in the second set.
   Alcaraz is slated to face No. 12 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime, a 21-year-old Canadian who topped Frances Tiafoe of Boynton Beach, Fla., 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (6), 6-4.
   Botic Van De Zandschulp of the Netherlands shocked No. 11 seed Diego Schwartzman of Argentina 6-3, 6-4, 5-7, 5-7, 6-1 in 4 hours, 20 minutes to become only the third men's qualifier to reach the U.S. Open quarterfinals in the Open Era.
   Van De Zandschulp is set to face No. 2 seed Daniil Medvedev, who dominated No. 24 Daniel Evans of Great Britain 6-3, 6-4, 6-3. Medvedev, the 2019 runner-up, has not lost more than four games in a set in his four matches. 
   Men's doubles — Wild cards Steve Johnson of Redondo Beach in the Los Angeles region and Sam Querrey, a 33-year-old San Francisco native, outplayed Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania and Benoit Paire of France 6-3, 6-4 to reach the quarterfinals.
   Johnson and Querrey advanced to the semifinals of the 2015 U.S. Open but had not won a doubles match in the tournament, together or separately, since then until this week. 
   Mixed doublesJessica Pegula of Boca Raton, Fla., and Austin Krajicek of Plano, Texas, surprised No. 6 seeds Ena Shibahara (a San Francisco Bay Area native) and Ben McLachlan (University of California, Berkeley, 2011-14) of Japan 7-6 (1), 6-3 in the second round.

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