A week after her loss at the Western & Southern Open, Serena Williams aims to extract an immediate revenge over the No.15 seed Maria Sakkari. The No.3 seed is the oldest player remained in the draw, leading a record six players aged 30 or older in the fourth round.
Williams advanced to the second week in a major for the 62nd time in her career. She owns a 52-8 record in fourth-round matches at Grand Slam tournaments, including a 16-2 record at this stage here. Bidding for her 53rd career quarter-final appearance in a major, Williams hit a tournament-leading 32 aces in the opening three rounds, including the fastest recorded serve thus far in the tournament.
“It’s [not] anything tricky, especially when you lost it’s good to kind of go back out there and try to do a little bit better.”
She added also she needs to come to the net more frequently. On the contrary, Sakkari knows she needs to come up with great tennis and make the match as physical as she can. She aims to mach her best Grand Slam result across the Slams. At this year’s Australian Open, she became the first Greek woman to reach the fourth-round in a major since Eleni Daniilidou at 2004 Wimbledon.
Matteo Berrettini, the Italian No.1, is emerging as a serious contender for a semi-final or a final spot in the bottom half of the draw. The No.6 seed will meet Russian Andrey Rublevin the only fourth-round clash in men’s singles featuring two Top-10 seeds.
Last year, the Italian beat Rublev in straight sets at this same stage, as the Russian analysed in his press conference after beating another Italian opponent, Salvatore Caruso. One year ago, Rublev said:
“Maybe I was more under the pressure. And now he did last year semifinals, so now I have no pressure. He has all the pressure. So we’ll see how it’s going to be. But for sure I hope it’s going to be interesting match, and I hope people will enjoy to watching it.
In New York, the World No.14 often delivered solid performances. Three years ago, he became the youngest quarter-finalist since Andy Roddick. His groundstrokes are as explosive as his feet. One year ago, he made Roger Federer, slightly injured or not, look like a passer-by in Cincinnati with a streak of stunning returns on the line. He knows how to open up the court, he can dominate the proceedings hitting massive ball after massive ball.
Berrettini can count on the most efficient serve in the tournament so far. The No.6 seed has won all his 45 service games since the start of the US Open. The Italian is the only player that hasn’t dropped serve in either singles draw, and he has saved all ten break points he has faced. Then, as their previous meeting testified, he can add a layer of subtlety to the game that Rublev can struggle to counter. With his sliced backhands, his net approaches, his elegant drop-shots, Berrettini can mix up things and make the difference.
The first meeting between the Australian Open finalist Dominic Thiem and Felix Auger-Aliassime, the first 2000-born player to reach a Grand Slam fourth-round, could become a match for the ages. Pressure mounts on the Austrian, the highest seed remained in the draw after Novak Djokovic‘s disqualification.
Thiem said in the post-match press conference after his third-round win:
“[Felix is] a great player. No real weaknesses. Great to watch. Great athlete, great person. The only thing what he’s missing is the experience. That’s what I’m trying to play for my advantage. It’s not my first second week at a slam, but it’s his. That’s probably my biggest advantage what I have in this match.”
Thiem struggled to find consistency from the baseline, he moved backwards to return to Marin Cilic‘s serves as he lost the third set in their third-round clash. It’s not surprising that the Austrian, who needed time to bring his force on the ball, is finding more difficulties on these quicker courts.
He’s meant to raise his average level against Auger-Aliassime, who managed to impose himself in his last two matches delivering almost 90 winners in six sets. He stepped up with a ferocious killer instinct in New York that nurtured his most effective strategies: blasting powerful first serves followed by flashy forehands. If he can continue to set-up those punches, he could give Thiem harder times on court.
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