It was apparent from the start the crowd was firmly behind Stan Wawrinka in his fourth-round match against Novak Djokovic at Arthur Ashe Stadium. It also was clear something was wrong with a flailing Djokovic, the defending U.S. Open champion and No. 1 player in the world.
But if the crowd’s intent in booing Djokovic was to add insult to the left shoulder injury that led him to retire and give Wawrinka a 6-4, 7-5, 2-1 win, it didn’t succeed.
Djokovic, who won the Australian Open and Wimbledon titles and reached the semifinals at the French Open, never has been as popular as Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. He didn’t deserve boos, but he didn’t portray himself as a victim.
“I’m not being offended by, mistreated by anybody,” he said. “I like to respect others. I hope that others can respect me and my decision. I’m sorry for the crowd. Obviously they came to see a full match, and it just wasn’t to be. That’s all it is. I mean, a lot of people didn’t know what’s happening, so you cannot blame them.”
Wawrinka, the No. 23 seed, has been slowed by knee problems since he won the title here in 2016. Sunday he was sharp, pounding the ball and moving well enough to speculate he might have won even if Djokovic had been at full strength. But Djokovic, who had endured weeks of constant pain, was far from his peak.
“It’s never the way you want to finish a match. I’m really sorry for Novak,” said Wawrinka, who was surprised when Djokovic retired. “He’s a good friend, an amazing champion. We’ve played amazing battles all of my career.”
Wawrinka’s quarterfinal opponent will be No. 5 Daniil Medvedev of Russia, who advanced with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (2) victory over unseeded German Dominik Koepfer.
Medvedev was fined $9,000 by the Assn. of Tennis Professionals for snatching a towel from a ballperson’s hands and raising his middle finger toward fans during his third-round match. He was booed after that and again Sunday while he waved his arms and encouraged the jeers. “Guys, continue to give me that energy. You’re the best,” he said during an on-court interview.
Later, he was contrite. “I was idiot, to be honest,” he said. “I did some things that I’m not proud of and that I’m working on to be a better person on the court, because I do think I’m a good person out of the court.”
Wawrinka is aware of Medvedev’s misdeeds. “I also saw he’s been playing amazing tennis, making final after final, winning [at] Cincinnati, winning here a lot,” Wawrinka said. “It’s going to be interesting match to play against him.”
No. 15 seed David Goffin of Belgium got an early break against No. 3 Roger Federer, but things soon and quickly went downhill for Goffin as Federer breezed to a 6-2, 6-2, 6-0 romp and reached the quarterfinals here for the 13th time.
Federer hit 35 winners to eight for Goffin and fired 10 aces.
“In a fourth round like this if you can keep it nice, short, simple, you have to take them,” Federer said.
His next opponent is Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, who defeated Alex de Minaur of Australia 7-5, 6-3, 6-4. Federer is 7-0 against Dimitrov.
“I like watching him. I like playing against him,” Federer said. “Of course, when we play, it’s as close as it gets to being a similar playing style.”
Cocomania rolls on
Coco Gauff’s singles run was ended Saturday by No. 1 Naomi Osaka, but Gauff is still rolling in doubles. Gauff, 15, and Caty McNally, 17, defeated Nicole Melichar and Kveta Peschke 6-3, 7-6 (9) on Sunday to reach the quarterfinals.
Gauff, who cried Saturday, was cheerful Sunday. The difference, she said, was she couldn’t control points against Osaka, but she and McNally did that.
“Doubles, I came in with a little more pressure on myself than singles because I know I have someone else that I can’t let down. I think she kind of helps me to calm down on the court,” Gauff said of McNally.