NEW YORK — While some former Grand Slam champions had an easy time of it in making their way toward the business end of the US Open tournament, a few others bit the dust in their quest to add to their major trophy hardware.
Louis Armstrong Stadium was the sight of two of those upsets of major champions, and it started with the No. 29 seed, Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia, coming back from a set down to defeat three-time major winner Angelique Kerber of Germany, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3. Cibulkova, who made the Australian Open final in 2014 and won the season-ending WTA Tour Finals in 2016, had only reached the quarterfinals of the US Open one time before today, all the way back in 2010.
During the evening session at Armstrong, fifth-seeded Petra Kvitova was upended by 20-year-old Belorussian Aryna Sabalenka, with Aryna winning 7-5, 6-1. Quickly becoming one of the rising stars in the women’s game, Sabalenka was 1-4 in her career in Grand Slam singles matches before her three wins in New York this week. She will take on another rising star in women’s tennis in the round of 16 in Japan’s Naomi Osaka, who did not drop a single game in defeating Aliaksandra Sasnovich, 6-0, 6-0.
Across the way from Armstrong, another former women’s Grand Slam champion was going down, but at least she was defeated by another player with a major trophy pedigree. Maria Sharapova extended her career record in night matches at the US Open to 23-0 by defeating 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2.
On the men’s side, the Grand Slam champions in action were having a relatively easy time of it until an epic encounter on Armstrong extended until past 2 AM unfolded. Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic won their matches, against Nick Kyrgios and Richard Gasquet respectively, in straight sets, but 2014 US Open champ Marin Cilic did not have it his own way against up-and-coming star Alex de Minaur of Australia. After losing the first two sets, Cilic came all the way back to pull the match out, 4-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-5, in four grueling, exhilarating hours.
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Saturday’s action around the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, with all photos taken by our senior photographer, Robert Cole. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 42 pictures in total.