Murray, Zvonareva Finish Strong

2011 US Open
By Hiland Doolittle, September 5th, 2011
Vera Zvonareva

Vera Zvonareva

The final 16 men will begin play today with the top four seeds still in place.

On the women’s side, Australian Samantha Stosur fought off a determined effort by Russian pretty-girl Maria Kirilenko to move into the quarterfinal bracket. After dropping the first set, Kirilenko mounted a late rally to defeat the ninth seeded Stosur 7-6 (15) in the second set.

In her third set, the Australian relied upon her biggest weapon, a big kick serve, to handcuff Maria and thwart any rally. When the dust settled, Stosur advanced to her berth in the final 8, 6-2,6-7 (15), 6-3.

To reach the semis, Stosur will have to defeat the second seed and the bottom bracket favorite to reach the finals, Vera Zvonareva. The Russian has not had her best season on tour but her quick dismissal of power hitting Sabine Lisicki, one of Germany’s emerging superstars, was impressive.

Playing the final match of the evening, Zvonareva played error-free tennis in registering the 6-2, 6-3 triumph. Lisicki was not sharp enough to control play and when Vera is at the controls, she knows how to close out matches.

Stosur and Zvonareva will knock heads in the quarters and the winner will be a heavy favorite to reach the finals. The reason is that Germany’s lightly regarded Angelique Kerber, the 91st ranked player on the tour, will meet 26th seeded Flavia Pennetta. This year’s two Cinderella contestants received light attention from bookmakers.

Leading into the Open, Kerber’s 2011 record is just 8 wins against 16 losses. On Sunday, Kerber made it look easy with a solid win over Romania’s Monica Niculescu 6-4,6-3.

Waiting to play Kerber is Italy’s Pennetta, an experienced player who might reach her first Grand Slam semifinal. Pennetta sent China’s 13th seed Shuai Peng packing with a convincing 6-4, 7-6 (6) triumph. The winner between Kerber and Pennetta will face the winner of the Zvonereva- Stosur match in the semis.

The upper half of the women’s draw take to the courts today. Led by Caroline Wozniacki and Serena Williams, this is a power bracket. Wozniacki will face former Grand Slam winner Svetlana Kuznetsova. The winner of that match will square off against the winner of Andrea Petkovic and Carla Suarez Navarro in the quarters.

Serena Williams will be favored to quickly silence Ana Ivanovic and then play the winner of the Francesca Schiavone – Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. The hard hitting Russian will have to have the patience to defeat the game’s best retriever, Schiavone.

Andy Murray Joins Big Three In Round of 16

Playing in the darkness of New York, Andy Murray was relentless against Feliciano Lopez who often seemed powerless against the Murray speed and dynamic return of serve. Murray seems at peace with himself and his place in the draw.

His 6-1,6-4,6-2 victory earns the Scotsman a Round of 16 match against young American Donald Young, who downed veteran Juan Ignacio Chela 7-5,6-4,6-3. After his win over Stan Wawrinka, Young seems on the verge of fulfilling his destiny, a quest Murray is also enduring.

Young will, have loud and powerful support from a packed New York crowd. However, Murray is battle tested and has touch and finesse that justify his fourth seed.

Rafa Nadal seemed exhausted at the end of his match against veteran David Nalbandian. The match may have turned in Nadal’s favor after a controversial call of a foot fault in the second set. The Argentine never recovered. After losing the first set in a tiebreaker, Nalbandian lost his resolve.

With the straight set, 7-6 (5), 6-1, 7-5 triumph, Nadal will play Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller in the next round. Muller used all his cunning to wear down heavily favored Igor Kunitsyn 6-1, 6-4,6-4.

In the day’s biggest upset, Gilles Simon took control of the play and wore down Juan Martin Del Potro, 6-4, 6-7 (5),6-3,7-6 (3). Del Potro, the 2009 US Open Champion lost the will and the legs to fight on. Simon played brilliant defensive tennis and made Del Potro change his straightforward power game.

Simon will next play 6’9” American John Isner, who is serving beautifully and coming up with timely breaks. Isner eliminated frustrated American Alex Bogomolov, 7-6 (9), 6-4, 6-4. Isner’s ability to hold serve puts pressure on his opponents. Isner can go as far as his serve can take him.

Andy Roddick’s sweep over France’s Julien Benneteau, 6-1,6-4,7-6(5) kept him in the fray. Roddick will next face impressive David Ferrer, the fifth seed.

Roddick joins 8th seed Mardy Fish, Isner and Young as one part of the four American’s still in the draw. American men and American women have played surprisingly will in the Open and have far exceeded expectations. Everything else is gravy.


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