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U.S. Open Day 4 recap: Serena, Djokovic cruise, while Ivanovic falls

Ana Ivanovic has played well in 2014, but once again faced an early exit at a Grand Slam event. Photo:

Ana Ivanovic has played well in 2014, but once again faced an early exit at a Grand Slam event.

NEW YORK -- Day 4 at the U.S. Open saw temperatures cool and winds start to whip, but that didn't put off Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic. The same can't be said for two dark-horse picks, as Ana Ivanovic and Sam Stosur bowed out. 

The No. 1 seeds roll: Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic lost a combined five games on Arthur Ashe Stadium to cruise into the third round. Williams defeated her second American of the tournament, Vania King, 6-1, 6-0, and will face yet another compatriot in the next round in Varvara Lepchenko. Djokovic beat Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-1, 6-3, 6-0 and will play American Sam Querrey next. Djokovic lost a set in all four of his North American hard court matches this summer, but he hasn't lost a set through two rounds here. 

Another disappointing Slam for Ana Ivanovic: Aside from her win over Serena at the Australian Open to make the quarterfinals, Ivanovic's Slam season has been disappointing, especially given how well she's played in regular tour events. The No. 8 seed lost to No. 46 Karolina Pliskova 7-5, 6-4 in a lackluster performance. Given how well she played in the lead-up to the U.S. Open, beating Maria Sharapova to make the Western & Southern Open final, it's a loss that leaves everyone scratching their heads.

"I had great lead-ups to every Grand Slam," she said. "I played a lot of matches and won lot of matches. And big matches, as well. At the Grand Slams I just haven't performed that well. It's something that I'm definitely going to work on and see where I can improve, because that's definitely a big aim for me for next season."

John Isner and Sam Querrey ease into the third round: Isner had no problems with Jan-Lennard Struff, winning 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-2 to advance and play Philipp Kohlschreiber in the third round for the third straight year. Kohlschreiber has beaten him the last two times in New York, but the more impressive performance came from Querrey, who looked dominant in beating 28th seed Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. Can he give Djokovic a test in the third round?

Victoria Azarenka keeps fighting: Azarenka rallied from 0-3, 0-40 down to win 12 of the last 14 games and beat Christina McHale 6-3, 6-2. Azarenka came into the U.S. Open under the radar given her injury concerns but her draw is looking soft and she's battling as well as she ever has. She isn't playing her best tennis -- far from it -- but she should make the fourth round on pure competitive instincts. 

Sam Stosur and Madison Keys bid adieu: Stosur looked to have finally pulled her game together over the summer but took a tough loss to Kaia Kanepi, losing 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (8). Stosur had a tough draw in New York and the erratic but talented Kanepi is no slouch. As for Keys, the 27th seed lost to No. 145 Serbian qualifier Aleksandra Krunic 7-6(4), 2-6, 7-5. There's no way around it. That's a bad loss for the 19-year-old Keys, who let herself get ground down by Krunic's defensive play. As the match got tighter toward the end of the third set, the nerves were evident. 

Eugenie Bouchard got a win she needed: She was tested by Sorana Cirstea in the last match on Arthur Ashe Stadium, but tennis' new "It Girl," as Chris Evert kept calling her, came through, winning 6-2, 6-7 (4), 6-4. Her uncharacteristically emphatic celebration on match point showed just how desperate she was to get the win, which gave her back-to-back wins for the first time since Wimbledon. She plays 30th seed Barbora Zahlavova Strycova next.

Andy Murray put the cramps behind him: In much cooler conditions than his first round match on Tuesday, Andy Murray put together a clean performance to beat qualifier Matthias Bachinger 6-3, 6-3, 6-4. Not that you got to see much of it if you were watching ESPN. They were glued (rightfully so) to Court 17, where...

CiCi Bellis showed her promise but lost: There's a lot to like about Bellis' game and her ability to take a top 50 player a full three sets, dropping a bagel to boot, was impressive. She lost 6-3, 0-6, 6-2 to Zarina Diyas but we'll see her again in the junior tournament next week.

All Hail Victor Estrella Burgos: Making his U.S. Open debut at 34-years-old, the man from the Dominican Republic is into the third round after beating 17-year-old Borna Coric in four sets. He'll play Milos Raonic next.

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Quote of the day

Serena Williams: "I feel really appreciated. I can attest to that, you know. I mean, so much of the fact is if I lose, it's bigger news than if I win. That is a test to how much people believe in my game and my skill and how much they appreciate the sport and how good they think I am."

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