Friday, September 3, 2021

Kerber finally stops Stephens; Osaka, Tsitsipas fall

Angelique Kerber had not won a set in her last
five matches against Sloane Stephens. 2017
photo by Paul Bauman
   In a matchup of former U.S. Open champions, No. 16 seed Angelique Kerber defeated Sloane Stephens 5-7, 6-2, 6-3 today in the third round of the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   Kerber, a 33-year-old left-hander from Germany, reeled off the last three games. She broke for 4-3 and for the match on errors by Stephens, a 28-year-old product of Fresno, Calif.
   Kerber, who won the 2016 U.S. Open and the 2015 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford, had not won a set in her last five matches against Stephens, the 2017 U.S. Open champion. They met for the first time since 2018 and the first time ever in a Grand Slam tournament.
   Kerber, who was two points from losing in the first round against Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine, is set to face Leylah Fernandez of Canada on Sunday for a quarterfinal berth. Fernandez, an 18-year-old left-hander, stunned No. 3 seed Naomi Osaka, the defending and two-time champion, 5-7, 7-6 (2), 6-4.
   Osaka, 23, of Japan announced afterward that she will take an indefinite break from tennis. 
   "When I win, I don't feel happy," Osaka, who withdrew from her second-round match in the French Open and skipped Wimbledon because of mental health issues, told a Japanese reporter. "I feel more like a relief. And then when I lose, I feel very sad. I don't think that's normal."
    An 18-year-old also knocked out the men's No. 3 seed as Carlos Alcaraz of Spain edged Stefanos Tsitsipas, the French Open runner-up in June, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (2), 0-6, 7-6 (5) in 4 hours, 7 minutes.
   In a late third-round match, No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus dismissed No. 26 seed Danielle Collins of St. Petersburg, Fla., 6-3, 6-3.
   Sabalenka reached the final of the 2019 Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose, Calif., losing to Zheng Saisai, and Collins won the Mubadala title last month, defeating Daria Kasatkina
   Men's doubles — No. 4 seeds Rajeev Ram, a volunteer assistant coach at the University of California, Berkeley from Carmel, Ind., and Joe Salisbury of Great Britain dispatched John Millman of Australia and Thiago Monteiro of Brazil 6-3, 6-4 in the second round.
   In the first round:
   — Wild cards Steve Johnson of Redondo Beach in the Los Angeles region and Sam Querrey, a 33-year-old San Francisco native, edged Marcelo Arevalo of El Salvador and Matwe Middelkoop of the Netherlands 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-6 (3).
   — Denmark's Frederik Nielsen and Canada's Vasek Pospisil, former Wimbledon men's doubles champions with different partners, beat Marcos Giron of Thousand Oaks in the L.A. area and Andre Goransson (Cal, 2014-17) of Sweden 6-3, 7-6 (3).
   — Santiago Gonzalez of Mexico and Andres Molteni of Argentina eliminated Robin Haase of the Netherlands and Mackenzie McDonald, a 26-year-old product of Piedmont in the San Francisco Bay Area, 5-7, 6-3, 6-2.
   Women's doubles — No. 3 seeds Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara (a Bay Area native) of Japan beat Eri Hozumi of Japan and Alicja Rosolska of Poland 7-6 (5), 6-2 in the second round.
   Mixed doubles — Giuliana Olmos, a product of Fremont in the Bay Area who represents Mexico, and Arevalo defeated Asia Muhammad of Las Vegas and Jackson Withrow of Omaha, Neb., 7-6 (5), 6-3.
   — Alternates Yastremska and Max Purcell of Australia topped Sania Mirza of India and Ram 6-3, 3-6 [10-7]. Mirza and Ram have won a combined five Grand Slam mixed doubles crowns but none together.

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