Column: Louis Armstrong Stadium is jazzing things up at U.S. Open as top-seeded players continue to fall on the court
The renovated Louis Armstrong Stadium has become a house of horrors for top-seeded players at the U.S. Open.
No. 4 Alexander Zverev was upset there on Saturday by unseeded Philipp Kohlschreiber, 6-7 (1), 6-4, 6-1, 6-3, and No. 4 women’s seed Angelique Kerber — the reigning Wimbledon champion and 2016 U.S. Open champion — was upset by No. 29 Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3. In a night match, No. 5 Petra Kvitova was outplayed by summer sensation Aryna Sabalenka, 7-5, 6-1. Sabalenka is seeded No. 26. “It’s beautiful court. It’s cute,” Kvitova said, adding that she couldn’t explain the surprises that have happened there.
Also at Louis Armstrong, No. 13 Kiki Bertens’ progress was halted by Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic, 7-6 (4), 6-2, 7-6 (1). The court previously was the scene of a first-round upset of No. 1 seed and French Open champion Simona Halep, a second-round upset of No. 2 and Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki, and a second-round dismissal of No. 12 Garbine Muguruza.
The stadium reopened this year after alterations that included adding a retractable roof. The lower level is noisy and there’s a lot of movement because the concourse-level concession stands are close to the court, but noise and energy are elements that make the U.S. Open unique. Players have said the surface plays a bit slow. The upset victims didn’t believe in a stadium jinx. “The court is great and it’s a great new court and with the roof,” Kerber said. “Actually, I was excited to play on that court.”
Bertens had kind words too, after her loss to 19-year-old Vondrousova. “I didn’t find a really big difference from the other courts,” said Bertens, who was thought to have a good chance here after she won a pre-Open tournament at Cincinnati. “I loved the court. It was a great atmosphere out there.”
In other upsets, No. 6 Caroline Garcia of France was ousted by No. 30 Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain, 5-7, 6-4, 7-6 (4), and No. 10 Jelena Ostapenko was sent home by No. 22 Maria Sharapova, 6-3, 6-2. Sharapova extended her night match winning streak at the U.S. Open to 23 and earned a fourth-round matchup against Suarez-Navarro. Of the top 10 women’s seeds, only Sloane Stephens (3), Elina Svitolina (7), and Karolina Pliskova (8) remain.
Double bagel for Osaka
No. 20 seed Naomi Osaka, who represents Japan but trains in Florida, pulled off the third double-bagel of the women’s tournament with a 6-0, 6-0 rout of Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus. Monica Puig and Daria Gavrilova did it in the first round against Stefanie Voegele and Sara Sorribes Tormo, respectively. Osaka, who won the BNP Paribas title at Indian Wells in March, said she wasn’t concerned with the score Saturday.
“I used to have this really bad … like if I would go up 3-0 then I would create this drama where I relax a lot, and then I let the person come back into the match,” said Osaka, who will next face Sabalenka. “So I think for me, now that I’m able to beat people at easier scores like this, I think I have improved a lot.”
Madison Keys, the 2017 U.S. Open runner-up, had a tougher time but came back to defeat Aleksandra Krunic of Serbia, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 and create a round-of-16 match against Cibulkova. Keys said she had to adjust after she let Krunic dictate the points early in their match. “I want to be the one that’s dictating points and the one that’s not running as much,” Keys said.
No. 6 men’s seed Novak Djokovic dismissed No. 26 Richard Gasquet, 6-2, 6-3, 6-3 at Arthur Ashe Stadium. Djokovic, a two-time U.S. Open champ, will face Joao Sousa, who upset No. 17 Lucas Pouille 7-6 (5), 6-4, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5). “It was real night match at the U.S Open. I loved the energy,” Djokovic said.
Follow Helene Elliott on Twitter @helenenothelen
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