Carlos Alcaraz advanced to the quarter-finals of the US Open on Monday as upsets dominated the women’s draw with Ons Jabeur and Jessica Pegula becoming the latest top-ranked players to exit the tournament.
Defending champion Alcaraz, who dropped just one set on his trip to the quarter-finals, produced a dominant display to overwhelm world number 61 Matteo Arnaldi of Italy, winning 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 in an hour and 57 minutes.
The 20-year-old Alcaraz is aiming to become the first man since Roger Federer in 2008 to successfully defend the US Open after winning the title for the first time last year.
The identity of the Spaniard’s opponent in the quarter-finals will be confirmed later on Monday, as Alcaraz is scheduled to face either German Alexander Zverev or Italian Jannik Sinner, seeded sixth, in the quarter-finals on Wednesday.
The bout with Sinner will be a repeat of the classic quarter-final between the two men last year, which set a record as the latest finish ever to a US Open match after concluding at 2.50am.
“I think the intensity from the start to the last ball, I played a really strong game, fewer mistakes,” Alcaraz said after Monday’s quick win.
“I’m really happy with the performance overall.”
In other men’s matches, eighth-seeded Russian Andrey Rublev qualified on Monday by defeating Briton Jack Draper 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Rublev will face the winner of the match that will be held on Monday between third-seeded Russian Daniil Medvedev, the 2021 champion, or Australian Alex de Minaur, seeded 13th.
– Pegula sunk by friendly fire –
In the women’s draw, more seeds fell one day after Iga Swiatek, the world number one and defending champion, was eliminated in the fourth round.
Third-seeded American Jessica Pegula was defeated in straight sets by her compatriot and close friend Madison Keys, while fifth-seeded Tunisian Jabeur – who lost in last year’s final – was eliminated 6-2, 6-4 by China’s Cheng Qinwen.
Pegula entered the US Open dreaming of a first-ever Grand Slam, buoyed by a win at the Canadian Open WTA 1000 last month.
But the 29-year-old’s campaign came to an abrupt halt in front of a packed Arthur Ashe Arena, as Keys, a 2017 US Open finalist, registered a dominant 6-1 6-3 win in just 61 minutes.
Pegula was not left unanswered as Keys fired off a run of 21 winners to her six.
Keys punished her friend’s shaky serve and broke her serve five times on her way to a comfortable victory.
“It’s always hard to play a friend, but we’ve been doing it our whole lives at this point,” Keys, 28, said.
“When we get on the field it’s all business, and when we get off the field we’re back to being friends.”
Keys, seeded 17th, will now face Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic in the quarter-finals on Wednesday.
Vondrousova, seeded ninth, booked her place in the quarter-finals by defeating unseeded American Peyton Stearns, after coming from a set down to win 6-7 (3/7), 6-3, 6-2.
Vondrousova made history in July by becoming the first unseeded woman to win Wimbledon, her first Grand Slam title.
The 24-year-old did not go beyond the fourth round at the US Open, and admitted after her victory on Monday that she surprised herself by qualifying for the quarter-finals.
“I am very happy,” Vondrousova said. “I actually didn’t expect it after Wimpy, there was a lot of pressure. We’ll see what happens next.”
Meanwhile, Jabeur, who had been suffering from the flu since arriving in New York, finally saw her luck run out after battling her way to three-set victories in her previous two matches.
The Tunisian had no answer for 23rd-ranked Zheng’s combination of power and precision, as the 20-year-old from Xi’an looked far sharper than her weary opponent.
“Right now I’m feeling very happy and excited to play in a big stadium. I played really well today,” Cheng said.
Zheng is the first Chinese to advance to the US Open quarterfinals since Wang Qiang in 2019. Two-time major champion Li Na reached the semifinals in New York in 2013, and Ping Shuai did the same a year later.
Cheng will face either second seed Aryna Sabalenka – who is set to become the new women’s world number one after Swiatek’s death on Sunday – or Russian Daria Kasatkina in the quarter-finals. Sabalenka and Kasatkina play a night match later Monday.
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