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Around the Grounds: Day 8 at the 2017 US Open

Robert Cole/ALOST
Everything has come together for American CoCo Vandeweghe, one of four American women in the US Open quarterfinals, in 2017, as she has reached her third quarterfinal of a Grand Slam in 2017. (Robert Cole/ALOST)
Everything has come together for CoCo Vandeweghe – one of four American women in the US Open quarterfinals – in 2017, as she has reached her third quarterfinal of a Grand Slam in singles this year. (Robert Cole/ALOST)

 

As always, on this Labor Day, let us do the work for you…at least as far as covering the US Open is concerned.

We officially turn the corner and head into the second half of the 2017 US Open, with quarterfinals spots at stake in both the men’s and women’s singles draw. Starting off the day on Arthur Ashe is world No. 1 Karolina Pliskova, who will try to counteract what should be a home-court advantage for her opponent, American upstart Jennifer Brady, with her powerful ground game. Pliskova was pushed to three sets No. 27 seed Shuai Zhang of China on Saturday, but managed to pull through in two hours and 20 minutes, 3-6, 7-5, 6-4. The world No. 1 in men’s singles, Rafael Nadal, will follow her on Ashe as he faces a resurgent Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine, who will be making his first appearance in the fourth round of a major in exactly six years (2011 US Open).

Outside of Arthur Ashe, there are some wonderful matches and storylines to keep track of. Probably the headline match on the outer courts will occur on the Grandstand, where 2009 US Open champion Juan Martín del Potro, who has not lost a set so far in the tournament in singles, plays No. 6 Dominic Thiem. Before that match on the Grandstand, the Bryan Brothers will be taking on the No. 9 seed in men’s doubles, Oliver Marach of Austria and Mate Pavic of Croatia. On the women’s side, qualifier Kaia Kanepi, a former top-15 player in the world who stepped away from the game two years ago because of illness and debilitating foot injuries, is back on tour and back in the US Open fourth round, and she will be looking to make her first Gran Slam quarterfinal since 2010 when she plays the young Russian, Daria Kasatkina, in Louis Armstrong Stadium this afternoon.

As always, know that the “refresh” button is your friend! We’ll be updating you constantly on different matches and storylines…because that’s what we do! Again, the most recent blogs are on top.

2:43 AM EST: Pictures are up! They feature, at the moment, players like Nadal, Vandeweghe, the Bryans, Delpo and Thiem. Federer, Svitolina and Keys following soon. I’m off to bed. See you in a few hours!

10:32 PM EST: Coming very soon? Pictures! Lots of them!

9:03 PM EST: Why lie? I (might) need a beer. Can anyone who is having a final summer barbecue outside spare one? What a last 48 hours for us at A Lot of Sports Talk: drive to DC, thrilling football game, endless photo editing and writing, driving back to NYC, covering US Open, suffering near heart attack watching Thiem-del Potro in person. Don’t know if I can take in any more drama for the next couple of days.

8:43 PM EST: In the media room now and I’m trying my best to hold back tears. That’s what a dramatic Juan Martín match will do to you: from the passion he plays with, to the type of person he is (humble, affable) to the number of Argentinians in the crowd to the number of non Argentinians who became temporary Argentinians during the match and joining in the soccer chants between del Potro points! Honestly, how did he do it? He was down two sets, faced two match points on his serve at 5-6, 15-40 in the fourth set, hit two aces to wipe out those match points, wins the fourth-set tiebreak, then wins in the fifth. I’m spent. Spent!

8:27 PM EST: How did Juan Martín win this match? a) I don’t know, but b) Thiem served a double fault! The call was overturned by the umpire, then Delpo challenged and the ball was indeed out! Game, set, match: del Potro! Holy *@#%!

8:26 PM EST: HOLY @*#$@^!! Juan Martín del Potro wins the match! Juan Martín del Potro wins the match! JUAN MARTÍN DEL POTRO WINS THE MATCH!!!

8:18 PM EST: Thiem fights back to deuce (Delpo error into net.) But it’s match point again after Thiem hits a backhand just long.
Call stands as Thiem has no more challenges!

8:15 PM EST: MATCH POINT FOR DELPO!!

8:13 PM EST: Another winner from Delpo!! It’s 15-30! Delpo two points away!

8:12 PM EST: Delpo with a forehand winner and it’s 0-15 on Thiem’s serve. There’s a lady to my right who is rooting for Delpo so hard, she can barely contain herself from crossing her fingers and running in place in her chair!

8:10 PM EST: Thiem pulls a sitter of a forehand long after Delpo hit the net and the ball popped high in the air. Delpo holds for 5-4! Can you believe that he’s now one game away from this match?!?!?!

8:09 PM EST: Delpo with a punishing winner at 30-15 and it’s game point at 4-4, 40-15. Now a long rally ends with Delp mishitting a forehand. Now 40-30.

8:05 PM EST: We rejoin you at this time because we’ve needed the last 30 minutes just to catch our breaths and find a different seat to better blog from! Oh, by the way, the match is still going on! Thiem just held for 4-4 in the fifth set. Again, Delpo dropped the first two sets, then was down 5-6, 15-40 on his serve in the fourth set. He then served two aces on the two match points he faced, held serve, then won the tiebreak! This place went NUTS!

7:22 PM EST: Two aces for Delpo to wipe away two match points!! WOW!

7:21 PM EST: Delpo in big trouble! Double match point for Thiem!

7:17 PM EST: Thiem with a routing hold and, once again, Delpo is serving to stay in the match. It’s 1-6, 2-6, 6-1, 5-6.

7:13 PM EST: Out on the Grandstand and it is charged! del Porto’s forehand is on fire in this game, and he’s set to tie the fifth set at 5-5. Delpo broke at 3-5 and, from what I saw on the TV monitor during that game, there are a number of Argentinians whooping it up and making it look like a Davis Cup tie.

6:31 PM EST: By the way, the story that Andrew (Leffler) and I put out a few days ago still is picking up steam, as CoCo Vandeweghe is now into the US Open quarterfinals after her 6-4, 7-6 (2) win over Lucie Safarova in the final afternoon match on Arthur Ashe Stadium. Vandeweghe had to defeat fellow American Alison Riske in the first round, and we made the argument that, given the home-court advantage Americans usually enjoy during the tournament, Riske could have been in the position that CoCo is in right now in Queens! If you haven’t read the story, why haven’t you?!? Give it a read! You’ll enjoy it, trust me on that!

6:00 PM EST: Just put in an interview request with Bruno Soares, whom I was told is a wonder to work woth on the court, especially in mixed doubles. That point became noticeable when I talked with both Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina, the top women’s doubles team that both won mixed doubles Grand Slam titles with Soares, and they both mentioned that Soares does a great job in giving the woman freedom on the court and that is something that is not prevalent with many of the men’s players in mixed doubles. Checking to see if there’s more to that.

5:40 PM EST: Our photographer is walking around the grounds just hours after the both of us were in the Washington DC area. I’m telling you, Robert Cole is…the…man! He’s out to shoot the men’s doubles match involving the defending champions, Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares. The next post will explain why we’re focusing on this match.

4:15 PM EST: We walk to the Grandstand just in time to see the Bryans polish off Marach and Patic, a quality doubles team, in three sets. Can you believe the Bryans have been at this here at the US Open for 22 years?! Their first US Open occurred when they were 17. Bob and Mike are 39 now. Want to live a long life in tennis? Play doubles!

4:09 PM EST: How about Kaia Kanepi?!? She defeats Kasatkina in straight sets and is off to the US Open quarterfinals. I just got a chance to read about what drove Kanepi away from the game and what brought her back, and it’s a very interesting and fascinating read!

4:01 PM EST: Never made it out to Ashe to see Nadal, unlike watching the second-round match against Taro Daniel with my good friend Jenny Lee. The result is the same, however, with Nadal winning and heading to the next round. His next match will be against the winner of No. 9 David Goffin and the young Russian Andrey Rublev, a match that Rublev currently leads two sets to love.

3:37 PM EST: Rob beat me to the press room here today and is currently at Ashe shooting. I’m less than an hour in here and, already, I want to put my head down and sleep. But that won’t happen at all, because I’m here for you today and every day here in Flushing for the US Open! Vamos!

2:40 PM EST: Getting into the media room after leaving my temporary place near Grand Central and just four hours after getting back from the DC Area, where Robert (Cole) and I covered the wonderful college football game between West Virginia and Virginia Tech. I know this is a tennis blog, but, if you want to read about the game and see some amazing pictures from it, here you go!

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