(September 2, 2023) Top seed and defending champion Carlos Alcaraz, second seed Aryna Sabalenka moved into the round of 16 on Saturday with four-set and straight set wins, respectively.
Alcaraz is looking to become the first man to defend his title since Roger Federer did it in 2008. The Spaniard was crafty in his 6-2, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 win over Great Britain’s Dan Evans, the 26th seed. Alcaraz is now 14-1 in his career at the US Open. This is just the third time the 20-year-old is playing this event.
“I think I’m playing a good level,” he said in his news conference. “I’m feeling really, really well on court, really comfortable. I always say that I can be better, but right now I’m really, really happy with the level that I’m playing,” Alcaraz said to media.
Asked if the watched the Novak Djokovic five-set match the night before he said:
“Well, I watched the first two sets, then I had to go to sleep.
“But, you know, when I go to bed, I was thinking Novak is going to come back, that’s for sure. He shows once again that he’s one of the best in history. Just he has come back from two sets to love down, I think I saw, like, six, seven times. So it’s something crazy.
“Stay 36 years old and doing the same things that when he was 20, it’s incredible. We have to give credit about that, and it’s something I admire.”
No. 2 seed Sabalenka wasted no time in dismissing Frenchwoman Clara Burrel 6-1, 6-1 in Louis Armstrong on Saturday.
“I’m super happy with the performance today,” said the Belarusian. “I think I played really great tennis today. Just super happy with this win.”
She has only dropped 12 games in three matches so far.
“I definitely not happy with the start of the US Open, with those few games on my serve when I served a lot of double faults,” she said of her first match. “But I’m happy that I was able to fix it and start serving better.”
She’ll be playing Daria Kasatkina for quarterfinal spot. Kasatkina beat Belgian Greet Minnen 6-3, 6-4.
“Always tricky matches against her, said the reigning Australian Open champion. “She’s playing great tennis. Moving really well. Trying to get everything she can back on that side.
“I feel like I have to be focused and I don’t have to over rush things against her. I just have to stay calm and just wait for the opportunity and take it.”
No. 5 Ons Jabeur came through in a match where both players struggled physically and mentally. Jabeur of Tunisia won over No.31 seed Marie Bouzkova 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-3 in a topsy-turvy match in Arthur Ashe Stadium to begin the night session. Bouzkova of the Czech Republic was visibly hampered in her movement.
“I was trying to observe her a lot, try to see where she was hurt,” Jabeur said. I thought maybe making her run on the forehand, that’s the spot where really bothered her a lot. I felt like doing dropshot on her forehand. I did on both obviously, but I felt like the forehand side was the side that bothered her a lot. Yeah, I was tense at times. I couldn’t do my shots and everything.
“Yeah, I got to say I really focused on her than on myself. I feel like I even forgot that I wasn’t feeling that well. Yeah, just I’m glad that I got through this. I think it’s never easy playing someone injured. It really gets into your head.”
No. 3 seed Jessica Pegula held off Elina Svitolina 6-4,4-6, 6-2 to reach the sweet 16. She’ll take on countrywoman Madison Keys for a place in the quarterfinals.
On playing Keys: “I’ve definitely played or just practiced — we haven’t played that many times, I think just once last year, and I won, and it was tight. I know she plays really well here. I know she likes the U.S. hard courts. Obviously she’s a finalist here. She’s definitely been playing well, won Eastbourne, did well at Wimbledon. I practiced with her several times since.
“Every time I practice with her, yeah, she just has the ability to just hit aces and rip forehands and backhands, play a really big power game.
“It will be interesting to see how smart I can play and what I can do to combat that. It’s always a challenge. I don’t mind playing players like that. Obviously you have to play against girls like that, but it is hard. You know if they’re having a good day, you’re in for it.
“At the same time I think I have a good game that can disrupt a lot of those players, so hopefully I’m able to do the things correctly that I need to do come match day.”
American Madison Keys. seeded 17th, rallied past 12th seed Luidmila Samsonova, 5-7, 6-2, 6-2 to get into the sweet 16 of the women’s draw.
“I think in the first set obviously I had those breakpoints at 6-5 and just couldn’t quite get across the finish line with them,” Keys said.
“But I felt like I was in so many of the games and I had, you know, even leads in a lot of her service games, so I just kept thinking just keep putting pressure on her. As soon as I got those break chances in the second and was able to convert, I felt like a weight kind of lifted off of me and I just ran with the momentum after that.”
“It was exactly as I expected it was going to go today. She can play very high level, and it was just kind of trying to weather the storm and see if I had an opportunity. Then when I did have the opportunity being able to take that. Like I said, yeah, it played out exactly like I was expecting to. Obviously very happy able to get back into that match and kind of play on my terms.”