Djokovic and Radwanska advance in US Open
Pole can become the only woman to reach the quarter-finals at all four grand slams this year
Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland returns a shot during her women’s singles third round match against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia at the US Open. Photograph: Al Bello/Getty Images
Top-seeded Novak Djokovic saved two set points in the opening set but lost just four games the rest of the way in beating Germany‘s Benjamin Becker 7-6 (2) 6-2 6-2 to reach the third round of the US Open.
Djokovic was broken in the ninth game of the first set to fall behind 4-5, but broke right back and forced a tiebreaker, which he won 7-2 before cruising the rest of the way. After the 52-minute first-set struggle on a windy Arthur Ashe Stadium court, the Serb won the next two sets in a total of 59 minutes to seal his victory.
Australia Open champion Djokovic, the 2011 US Open winner, will next face either Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen or Portugal’s Joao Sousa.
The ultra-consistent Agnieszka Radwanska wore down Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4 7-6 (1) to reach the fourth round, continuing her impressive streak at this year’s grand slams.
The third-seeded Radwanska survived some anxious moments against Pavlyuchenkova before sealing victory in 73 minutes. She will play Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova in the round of 16.
“It was tough, two tight sets. Actually the first one, and the second one, it was just by a couple points,” Radwanska said. “I played very good in the tiebreak. I was really focused from the beginning, and I just wanted to win the tiebreaker very much.”
If she wins her next match, the Pole will become the only woman to reach the quarter-finals at all four grand slams this year. The US Open is the only grand slam that Radwanska has failed to reach the quarters and this will be her fourth appearance in the fourth round in eight appearances at Flushing Meadows.
“Well, of course I will do everything to make the quarter-final this year,” she said. “I like the hard court and I really had great results on that surface. I think it’s just something wrong here that I can’t pass the fourth round. This is another opportunity, so I will try my best.”
Unlike a lot of the other top-ranked woman in the world, Radwanska is not a power player so has had to mix up her game and employ different strategies to counter her stronger opponents.
Like her childhood idol Martina Hingis, the 24-year-old used lobs and drop shots and changes of pace to bamboozle her rivals. “We don’t have powerful games or anything like that,” Radwanska said. “Just mixing everything up always trying to find a way to win the point but not really bombing like others.”
China’s Li Na became the first player to reach the round of 16 at this year’s US Open when she defeated Britain‘s Laura Robson 6-2 7-5.
Li needed just 81 minutes to avenge her third-round loss to Robson at Flushing Meadows last year and is yet to drop a set in the tournament.
“At least this year I’m in the second week,” said Li, whose next opponent will be either Serbia’s Jelena Jankovic or Japan’s Kurumi Nara.
As a former French Open champion and two-time Australian Open finalist, Li had too much firepower for the British teenager, 12 years her junior.
The 31-year-old Li was rewarded for her aggressive approach, hitting 23 winners and banging down 11 aces on a windy day at Arthur Ashe Stadium. “I was a little bit surprised because today I have a lot of aces. It was like, wow,” Li said.