2019 US Open Day 8: Nadal reaches quarterfinals, Osaka falls to Bencic in straight sets

Ben WeinribYahoo Sports Contributor
<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/olympics/rio-2016/a/1195086/" data-ylk="slk:Rafael Nadal">Rafael Nadal</a>, of Spain, reacts during a fourth-round match against <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/olympics/rio-2016/a/1133278/" data-ylk="slk:Marin Cilic">Marin Cilic</a>, of Croatia, during the U.S. Open tennis tournament Monday, Sept. 2, 2019, in New York. (AP/Seth Wenig)
Rafael Nadal, of Spain, reacts during a fourth-round match against Marin Cilic, of Croatia, during the U.S. Open tennis tournament Monday, Sept. 2, 2019, in New York. (AP/Seth Wenig)

Here’s a recap of the action from a rainy Labor Day at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

Townsend’s rally comes up short

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Taylor Townsend rallied back from an early hole on Monday night at Arthur Ashe stadium.

It just wasn’t quite enough.

Townsend fell to Canada’s Bianca Andreescu 6-1, 4-6, 6-2, ending her run at the US Open.

Townsend struggled out of the gate, dropping the first set 6-1 and appearing well behind Andreescu. Suddenly, though, Townsend found her game.

The 23-year-old broke Andreescu’s serve in the second set and took a quick 3-0 lead — which propelled her to take the second set and even the match. That momentum didn’t last long, though, as Andreescu quickly put her away in the final set 6-2.

Andreescu, the No. 15 seed in the tournament, will advance to the quarterfinals and take on Belgium’s Elise Mertens. Mertens, the No. 25 seed, beat American Kristie Ahn in straight sets to reach the quarterfinals.

Nadal makes it past Cilic

It took him a second, but Rafael Nadal is moving on to the quarterfinals.

Nadal split the first two sets in his fourth-round match against Croatia’s Marin Cilic 6-3, 3-6, setting up what appeared to be the start of a thriller at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

That’s when the Spaniard kicked it into gear.

Nadal easily won the next two sets 6-1, 6-2 to put Cilic away and reach the quarterfinals — all thanks to an insane save in the final game from around the net to seal the deal.

Nadal will next take on Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman, who beat Germany’s Alexander Zverev 3-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 in his fourth-round match.

Coco Gauff, Caty McNally team fall in third round

Just days after her tearful loss to No. 1 Naomi Osaka, 15-year-old Coco Gauff is done for good at this year’s US Open.

Gauff and her doubles partner Caty McNally fell to the No. 8 seeded team of Victoria Azarenka and Ash Barty 6-0, 6-1 in the third round on Monday.

The experience in New York for Gauff, however, is one that she said she’ll never forget — thanks largely to the massive support she received from her fans.

“For me, it would just be the crowd in general,” Gauff said, via ESPN. “I think even today they were trying to push us, even though we weren't giving them much to push for. They were really trying to help us, even throughout all our matches of singles and doubles. To me, I'll just remember the crowd. Hopefully I'll get to experience that crowd support again next year.”

Naomi Osaka goes down in straight sets

World No. 1 and defending US Open champion Naomi Osaka fell to No. 13 Belinda Bencic in the Round of 16. Osaka won her first Grand Slam title last year when she topped Serena Williams in the final, later going on to win the 2019 Australian Open.

This was the third time in 2019 that Bencic knocked off Osaka after previously beating her in the BNP Paribas Open in March and Matua Madrid Open in May. Those wins have helped her rise from outside the top 50 at the start of the year.

Osaka went down in straight sets — 7-5, 6-4 — and had only lost one game in her previous three matches this tournament. Bencic completely dominated by winning 82 percent of her first serves and 81 percent of her second serves. Osaka only had one chance to break a set and never won more than three games in a row.

“I was so excited to come on the court, the challenge could not be bigger so I had to be on top of my game,” Bencic said after the match, via The Guardian. “I’m really pleased with how I played and how I managed my nerves in the end. Taking the serve early, trying to anticipate because she has a lot of power ... I’m not the person with the most winners or aces, I had to play it a bit like chess with tactics on the court.”

Bencic advances to the quarterfinals on Wednesday, where she will face Donna Vekić, who defeated her in the third round of the French Open earlier this year.

Donna Vekić outlasts Julia Görges

Donna Vekić is off to her best start yet at a Grand Slam.

The 23-year-old from Croatia outlasted No. 26 Julia Görges on Monday in a 2-hour, 45-minute affair that ended 6-7, 7-6, 6-3. Vekić had lost all three of their previous matches and showed exquisite vitality.

Vekić had to overcome 21 aces from Görges, which is the most in a women’s singles match since 1998. She minimized mistakes with just four double faults and reached break point 12 times, doing so four times.

“I don’t know how I won this match. She served for it, she had match points. I kept fighting and believing I could win,” Vekic told WTA Tennis. “I was just trying to get a return in the court. She served amazing today. I felt confident in the rallies and I felt that if I got the ball in, I’d have a good chance.”

Vekić will face No. 13 Belinda Bencic in the quarterfinals on Wednesday. Her Swiss opponent looked strong in her last match, knocking off world No. 1 Naomi Osaka in straight sets.

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