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US Open 2021: Novak Djokovic advances despite 1st-set faceplant

·7 min read
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  • Novak Djokovic
    Novak Djokovic
    Serbian tennis player
  • Matteo Berrettini
    Italian tennis player

We could be in for quite the ride on Day 8 of the 2021 US Open. There were multiple upsets — two from unseeded teenagers — and tons of thrilling tennis on Sunday, and Monday could be just as eventful. 

What will we see today? Check back here for the latest results.

Novak Djokovic shakes off sloppy first set

For a set, Novak Djokovic. Then he was Novak Djokovic again.

The world No. 1 and tournament favorite powered through a rough start to defeat unseeded American Jenson Brooksby 1-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2. He will face No. 6 seed Matteo Berrettini in the quarterfinals.

The match opened with the makings of an upset, as Brooksby was aggressive and energetic while Djokovic was uncharacteristically sloppy. In a tournament that has seen plenty of upsets, that qualified as a red flag, especially when stuff like this happens.

But Djokovic took a deep breath and resumed his dominating form for the rest of the match, and normalcy returned to tennis again. The Serbian showed off his historically elite court coverage and basically smothered his 20-year-old opponent into submission.

By the end, Brooksby was visibly exhausted, receiving medical attention and slamming the ball into the net in frustration after a service fault. Playing Djokovic will do that to you.

Karolina Pliskova rolls into quarterfinals

Months after reaching the finals at Wimbledon, Karolina Pliskova is looking like a contender to reach the third Grand Slam final of her career.

The No. 4 seed of the tournament defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 7-5, 6-4 to advance to the quarterfinals of the tournament.

Matteo Berrettini ends qualifier Oscar Otten's dream run

One of the most surprising runs at the US Open has reached its end.

German qualifier Oscar Otte, ranked 144th in the world, fell 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 to No. 6 seed Matteo Berrettini on Monday. Berrettini will advance to face the winner of Novak Djokovic and Jenson Brooksby, so he will likely face Novak Djokovic.

Even with the loss, Otte's run was a stunner. In nearly a decade of professional play, the 28-year-old had never advanced past the second round of a Grand Slam. He had only recorded five wins total on the ATP Tour. He had $787,011 in career prize money, a figure that will increase by more than 30 percent from this tournament alone.

That performance earns you a standing ovation in New York City.

Emma Raducanu onto her first Grand Slam quarterfinal

Emma Raducanu's fairy tale run at the US Open isn't over yet. The 18-year-old UK qualifier handled Shelby Rogers with ease, beating her 6-2, 6-1 in just 66 minutes. Rogers beat Ash Barty, the No. 1 seed, to earn her spot in the Round of 16, but just wasn't able to get a handle on Raducanu's game. 

Rogers started strongly, winning the first two games. Those would turn out to be the only games she'd win in the first set, and she'd win just one more overall. Raducanu then won six straight games to take the first set. 

She wasn't done. She also won the next five, for an 11-game winning streak. Rogers broke that to stave off her own loss, but it's the only win she managed in the second set. Raducanu won the next game, which gave her the set and the match. 

Raducanu, who still hasn't dropped a set at the US Open, will play Belinda Bencic in the quarterfinals. 

American Reilly Opelka eliminated by Lloyd Harris

Reilly Opelka, the highest-seeded American man left at the US Open, lost on Monday to South Africa's Lloyd Harris. Harris, ranked No. 46 in the world, beat the No. 22 seeded Opelka 6(6)-7, 6-4, 6-1, 6-3. 

Opelka showed a lot of fight in the first set, eventually wrestling it away from Harris, but had issues building momentum. Harris, on the other hand, depended heavily on his serve, which didn't let him down. He had 36 aces to Opelka's 24, and won points on his first serve a staggering 92 percent of the time while Opelka won just 72 percent. 

Harris ended up dominating down the stretch, and he looked good doing it. 

Harris will face Alexander Zverev in the quarterfinals. 

Alexander Zverev fights off Jannik Sinner

No. 4 seed Alexander Zverev continues to take down anyone who gets in the way of his return to the US Open final. On Monday it was Jannik Sinner, the No. 13 seed, that Zverev defeated 6-4, 6-4, 7-6(7).

Sinner had some great moments, and was more than up to the task of giving Zverev a hard time. Zverev had to fight for his points (though his blistering serve did some of the work for him).

In the end, Zverev's serve and speed were too much for Sinner to handle. Though Sinner was able to keep it close, especially at the end. He went up 5-4 in the third set for his first lead of the match, and was feeling so confident that he sent a number of rackets back to be restrung. But Zverev wouldn't be beaten. He took Sinner to a tiebreak. And just when Sinner had a set point, Zverev smashed one of his 17 total aces, which turned the tiebreak around. Zverev didn't look back. 

Zverev, who is now on a 15-match winning streak, is one step closer to returning the the US Open finals for the second straight year. He'll face Lloyd Harris in the quarterfinals. 

Belinda Bencic rides long tiebreak to quarterfinals

Belinda Bencic has advanced to the quarterfinals, managing to squeak past Iga Swiatek 7-6(12), 6-3 in an intense two-setter that lasted more than two hours. How intense was this match? The first-set tiebreak lasted nearly a half hour.

When the first set started, it didn't look like it was going to be a long match. Bencic, the No. 11 seed who won the gold medal in women's singles at the recent Tokyo Olympics, jumped out to a 3-1 lead, and seemed destined to make quick work of Swiatek, the No. 7 seed. 

But then Swiatek began fighting her way back. One hour into the first set, the two faced off in a tiebreak that lasted an additional 25 minutes. Bencic, who had kept battling after watching her lead disintegrate, finally managed to take the first set after winning the tiebreak 14-12.

The second set wasn't quite so bonkers. Bencic struggled a bit, but eventually took care of business. She's advancing to the US Open quarterfinals for the third time in her career, and will face the winner of the Shelby Rogers-Emma Raducanu match.