American Donald Young completed another masterful comeback, this time over veteran Serbian #2 Viktor Troicki in the best match on the men’s side of US Open Day 6. In one of the final matches ever played on the fan and player favorite US Open Grandstand court, Young found himself trailing 4-6 0-6 after a mere hour of play, but for the second time in less than a week won a slam match from two sets down, showing surprising mental toughness.
DY battled to an early break in the third set, lost the break, but the held his mettle all the way to a third set tiebreak which he captured 7-3, never giving Troicki a shot at match points. After that Troicki, who has a history of falling apart in best of 5 set matches, totally lost the plot losing the final two sets 6-2 6-4, as his late effort to save match points against Young didn’t throw him off his goal and he pushed through for a spot in the US Open round of 16 as an unseeded player. Young is joined by only the in-form Benoit Paire as unseeded players in the US Open round of 16, and he is one of two Americans left in the draw.
That other American is the big serving John Isner who beat a clearly unfit Jiri Vesely 6-3 6-4, with the Czech retiring at the end of the second set. Isner has to be happy with his strong play thus far, a spot in the second week, and the fact he avoided a long match with Vesely, his stamina boosted by the retirement. Next for Isner is #2 Roger Federer who finished up another straight sets masterclass showing against Philipp Kohlschreiber 6- 6-4 6-4.
Young will also play a Swiss player in the round of 16, as Stan Wawrinka was untroubled against surprising dark horse Ruben Bemelmans of Belgium and drove his backhand to a 6-3 7-6(5) 6-4 win. Wawrinka had a bit of trouble on serve, as he was broken in each set by Bemelmans, but his return game was far superior and he got the breaks back as needed.
Like Vesely, Bernard Tomic simply wasn’t in physical shape to compete against Richard Gasquet. The Australian faced an opponent who played classy top-notch tennis, and wilted from fatigue, Gasquet joining three over Frenchmen in the fourth round with a routine 6-4 6-3 6-1 win in what turned out to be a disappointing match.
Gasquet will do battle with Tomas Berdych in the next round, and he’s an underdog according to the oddsmakers regardless of his good form. The big hitting Czech struggled through his first two sets against Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, but eventually proved the better player with a 6-7(2) 7-6(7) 6-3 6-3 victory. The match lasted almost three and a half hours and Berdych had to recover from going breaks down in the second and third set. Garcia-Lopez simply wasn’t consistent enough to maintain a lead.
Completing the men’s round of 16 were Kevin Anderson and Andy Murray, both of whom prevailed in straights and will now meet with Murray as the favorite in the next round. Anderson served his way past Dominic Thiem 6-3 7-6(3) 7-6(3) as he was never broken on serve, saving multiple break points in the second set. Murray beat Thomaz Bellucci in the nightcap, nicely recovering from a five setter against Adrian Mannarino to give the Brazilian the runaround 6-3 6-2 7-5. Bellucci never had a lot of belief in this match and it showed.
Speaking of belief, this post isn’t complete without mentioning Italian Fabio Fognini‘s shocking late night win on Friday night over former US Open champion Rafael Nadal. Nadal was two sets and a break up 6-3 6-4 2-1, looking to be cruising over the talented but erratic Fognini, but then the wheels entirely came off for Rafa. Fognini, who often wilts in slams, rose up and scored his third win over the Spanish lefty this year. His backhand and his aggressive play started to do damage as Nadal was forced to resort to masterful defense with his serve a disaster zone.
Fognini took sets three and four 6-4 6-3, and then they had an all out war in the 5th set past midnight in New York. Fognini was incredibly tight and tense on game and break point chances, but his aggressive efforts eventually cracked Nadal and broke him resulting in a 3-6 4-6 6-4 6-3 6-4 win that he served out with surprising grace.
Neither player could properly serve in the 5th set, and Nadal put up one of the worst serving performances of his career in his first ever loss from two sets ahead in a Grand Slam match. He didn’t appear physically injured, and he was emotionally engaged in the match, but Fognini simply outhit him when it mattered and came up in the clutch.
Fognini faces Feliciano Lopez, who upset a struggling Milos Raonic earlier on Friday, in the round of 16 while Marin Cilic, a five set Friday winner over Mikhail Kukushkin, who ran out of gas late, will continue his quest to defend his US Open title against Grand Slam specialist Jeremy Chardy who shocked David Ferrer in 4 sets and continues his good career record in slams. Novak Djokovic faces Roberto Bautista Agut, after Djokovic scored a routine win over Andreas Seppi and RBA benefited from a David Goffin retirement, and Paire will face his countryman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga after both won in straights.
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