Quarterfinals: The New Front Runners

US Open Serena Williams

The quarterfinals of the US Open have neither #1 seed still in the draw. On the men’s side the clear favorite, 17-time Major Champion Novak Djokovic is out via default. He was the only man remaining in the tournament with a Major win. His early ouster guarantees a maiden Major winner on the men’s side.

On the women’s side, #1 seed Karolina Plishkova went down in the second round. However, the quarterfinals are still flush with Major winners, including Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka, and Naomi Osaka.

Here are the best matches to watch in the 2020 US Open quarterfinals.

#2 Dominic Thiem vs. #21 Alex de Minaur

Thiem is going to win a Major, eventually. Thiem is the hardest working player on tour and a total grinder. He has challenged the King of Clay on clay. He has ground it out with Djokovic. As the #2 seed, Thiem is the new favorite to win the US Open, but he faces his hardest challenge of the tournament. Thiem was taken to four sets only once so far in this tournament. It was against former US Open winner Marin Cilic in the third round. Thiem is currently ranked third in the world, with 16 career titles.

The Aussie de Minaur can match Thiem in intensity and competitiveness. De Minaur has shown flashes of brilliance with 3 career singles titles at only 21 years old. In this US Open, he has faced some stiff competition and come out on top. It took 5 sets to get through the third round against Russian Karen Khachanov. Though he, unlike Thiem has had a 5 set match he is coming off a straight set match victory in the fourth round.

These two have only met twice, both matches have gone to Thiem. They met each other in the US Open 2017 when de Minaur was just a teenager. This is the biggest stage for the two men who have been predicted to be the future of tennis when the Big 3 retire. The winner of this has to feel they can win the entire tournament.

 #3 Daniil Medvedev vs #10 Andrey Rublev

A clash of the Russians, this is a rivalry that has been playing out since their junior days. Medvedev and Rublev know each other very well and both are playing phenomenal tennis.

After Djokovic, Medvedev was the favorite to win this tournament. He was the runner up in 2019 behind Rafael Nadal. Medvedev easily took out the last American man in the tournament to get to the quarterfinals when he beat Francis Tiafoe 6-4 6-1 6-0. Medvedev is coming in without having dropped a set yet in this tournament. He is ranked #5 in the world. At 24, he has seven career titles already.

Andrey Rublev is two years Medvedev’s junior and has only four singles titles so far. He is ranked 14th in the world. Together with Medvedev and Karen Khachanov, they have seen a revival of Russian tennis. This is a match up with the top two Russian players in the world at the US Open. Rublev, like Medvedev, has had a fairly stress free road to the quarterfinals. He dropped one set in the fourth round to Matteo Berrettini. Otherwise, he has be sweeping away the competition.

The quarterfinals seems to be the place these two meet up. Their only professional head to heads have both been in quarterfinals and they both occurred last year. Both of those matches were won by Medvedev in straight sets.

The pride of Russia is on their rackets and a chance at the final four. Though we hope this match is exciting, expect to see Medvedev continue his winning streak.

#4 Naomi Osaka vs. Shelby Rogers

Japanese Naomi Osaka is the most recent US Open champion still in the draw. Though Osaka has been ranked #1 in the world, her play has dipped since her two Major wins in 2018 and 2019. She now sits at #9 in the world. Osaka has won five titles in her career. Osaka has been a bit erratic in this tournament. She was taken to three sets in her first round against fellow Japanese Misaki Doi. #137 ranked Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk also took Osaka to three sets in the third round. She has struggled with the unknowns. But with players who came as a threat she dispatched easily. How she will treat unranked Shelby Rogers is yet to be determined.

American Shelby Rogers, though unseeded, beat two seeded players to get to the quarterfinals. In the fourth round, Rogers shocked the community by taking out Petra Kvitova, the #6 seed. Kvitova is a two-time Major winner, but Rogers handled her with grit, beating her 7-6 3-6 7-6. Rogers has yet to win a tournament on tour and is ranked 93rd in the world. This is her second Major quarterfinal though, having made it this far in the 2016 French Open.

Osaka and Rogers have met three times, with Rogers having won all of them. It’s logical to think Osaka will win this. But this seems like the kind of match Rogers could win. She is coming in on a high at her home open with Osaka playing erratically against unranked opponents. Either way, this ought to be a good match.

#28 Jennifer Brady vs. #23 Yulia Putintseva

Jennifer Brady is one of three American women in the quarterfinals (along with Shelby Rogers and Serena Williams). Brady has dominated her competition so far, including a 2 set 6-1, 6-4 win against Angelique Kerber. Kerber is a three time Major winner including the US Open in 2016. Brady polished her off with ease and that was the tightest match she has had. She is playing amazing tennis as the 41st player in the world and only a single career title at 25 years old. Can she hold her form against the player from Kazakhstan?

Yulia Putintseva is 35th in the world also at 25 years old. Like Brady, she has one career title under her belt. She hasn’t played nearly as dominating tennis nor anyone of the caliber of Kerber to make it to her third Major quarterfinal (she advanced to the French Open quarters twice). Unlike Brady, she has been to the second week of a Major. But her last two matches have been three setters. In the 3rd round she had to take out Aliaksandra Sasnovich from Belarus, which she did after dropping the first set. Again it took three sets in the fourth round to defeat Petra Martic of Croatia. Putsintseva is coming in with more miles under her to get to the quarters, but she also has the experience that Brady lacks (though she has never made it to a semifinal in a Major).

Putsintseva and Brady have met twice before, once on clay and once on hard court. Both match-ups have gone to Putsintseva. The winner of this match will depend on if Brady can hold her form into a second week. If she can, she should win this.

Other Match-ups

#3 Serena Williams vs. Tsetana Pironkova

Williams hasn’t looked like her usual dominate self in the third week. But she shouldn’t have trouble with the Bulgarian.

#20 Pablo Carreno Busta vs. #12 Denis Shapovalov

The Spaniard Busta is coming off a win for the history books, but not because of his play. He is the beneficiary of Djokovic’s default. He made the semifinal of this tournament in 2017, but there could be a lingering doubt from his last match. Shapovalov has played superb tennis and the 21-year-old Canadian is in his first major quarterfinal.

Victoria Azarenka vs. #16 Elise Mertens

Azarenka was the best in the world for a spell when she won back to back Australian Opens in 2012 and 2013. Azerenka gave birth to a baby boy in 2016 and missed most of that season. After the birth of her son there was a bitter custody battle with the boy’s father. Azerekna hasn’t been close to the same player since, with her highest Major finish being to the 4th round of Wimbledon in 2017. Unranked in this tournament, Azerekna has showed her former power in the 2020 US Open. Mertens is coming off beating the most recent Major winner, defeating Sofia Kenin––the defending Australian Open champion.

#5 Alexander Zverev vs. #27 Borna Coric

Zverev, like Thiem, has got to be believing this is his tournament. His biggest issues in the past is getting through Majors without much baggage. He hasn’t had a single five-set match (though he has had three four-setters). He is coming off a three set cruise against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. Coric has shown flashes of brilliance in his career, especially on grass. But it’s always fizzled under the spotlight.

Main Photo from Getty.


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