- Borna Coric edges Stefanos Tsitsipas in the early hours
- Under the radar? Angelique Kerber and Anett Kontaveit efficiently go about their business
- More bubble chaos as the State overrules the City over quarantine measures for players still in the draw
NEW YORK, USA – There was no shortage of drama, both on court and off it as the third round got underway.
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We know that Novak Djokovic is looking completely unstoppable, and that Naomi Osaka is still battling away, perhaps having to manage that hamstring injury, but the two-time Slam champion is finding her way.
Meanwhile somewhat under the radar, 2016 champion Angelique Kerber has been quietly carving her way through the draw and is yet to drop a set. New York was where things all started to happen for her. After what had been a fairly nondescript year on the tour for her, she kicked on making the semi-final and suddenly finding form that started to propel her up the rankings and finally culminating in an outstanding 2016, where she won the Australian Open and US Open, and reached the Wimbledon final.
It perhaps did not start out quite so straightforwardly for Anett Kontaveit in her opener against the feisty Danielle Collins, but since dropping the opening set of the tournament, the Estonian has been grinding up through the gears.
Next up is a rematch against Osaka – who beat her in the quarter-finals of Cincinnati and it came down to a thriller of a final set.
There is no doubt that Stefanos Tsitsipas is destined for big things in his career. He has graduated from the Next Gen finals to winning the World Tour finals themselves – and the No. 4 seed would have been nailed on for the second week, but for a late-night thriller with Borna Coric.
It had been going so well for him – he was 2-1 sets up and 5-1 in the fourth set but it was almost like his racquet turned to a pumpkin at around midnight local time, as he waved goodbye to six match points and Coric went on a run of six straight games.
Into a decider, and somehow Tsitsipas hung on for a tie-break but was always on the back foot from the start after the first mini-break went to Coric.
Coric said, on court: “I have to be honest and say that I was really lucky. I made some unbelievable returns and I was a little bit lucky at the end. In the third and fourth set, he was playing unbelievable tennis and I felt like I had no chance. In the fifth-set tie-break, I knew it was not going to be easy for him, so I tried to just keep the ball in court and make him play as many balls as possible.”
Tsitsipas has been on the end of some real heartbreakers in Slams in the past, but tweeted almost immediately after the match:
This is probably the saddest and funniest at the same time thing that has ever happened in my career!
— Stefanos Tsitsipas (@StefTsitsipas) September 5, 2020
Bubble-gate continues. With the Mladenovic family making absolutely no bones about what they feel about the USTA and the US Open and Kirsten Flipkens elaborating that now players initially in a more rigorous quarantine, things took a new twist when the scheduled match between Alexander Zverev and Adrian Mannarino showed no signs of being on court.
The deal that the USTA struck with the city officials around managing testing and protocols around players being withdrawn was upended when the State of New York stepped in and demanded that players in the vicinity of someone who tested positive be kept in their rooms and not be allowed to train albeit away from everyone else.
As Mannarino explained, after losing in four sets to Zverev: “I didn’t know that the situation could changed for myself. On Sunday actually when they told us we were eligible to play the tournament, if we agreed on the new protocol, that we also signed, all the players who were in my situation, we signed the paper from the City Department of Health of New York, I think, giving us some new protocol, what we might call restrictions not to be in contact with all the players. A huge organisation has been done around us just to make us allowed to play.
“I didn’t know that the State could take over this decision. I don’t know all the rules. I was ready to go on court. I was warming up, sweating, just focused on my match. All these things happen in a sudden. It was a weird situation for me. I was just laying on the sofa still trying to be focused just in case I would go on court.”
“I didn’t know that in my situation, as I was still in the draw, the situation could change. Obviously for all the players in my situation who lost yesterday, we’ve been told that we would still be able to practice on-site with the new protocol, be able to come on-site if we were still tested every day.”
“But I heard this morning that actually they would have to stay in their hotel room for the rest of their quarantine. I knew that things have been changed for their conditions. I’m not going to be able to leave New York before next Friday in my situation. It’s a different situation for every single person because depending of what was the last time you’ve been exposed to Benoit.
“From my memory, my coach is not going to be allowed to leave before Saturday. But me, as I haven’t been in contact with him a little bit before, I’m going to be able to leave maybe one day before him.
“No, I don’t know exactly or officially how is my situation right now. Obviously I think that I’m going to have to stay quarantined in my room for the next seven days or something, at least until next Friday. Then let’s see.”
To Mannarino’s credit, he was thankful of the efforts that had been made to let him play, but the situation does need more clarity than the USTA has seemed to provide.
Play continues at the US Open on Day 6 at 11am (4pm BST).
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