Day Seven in Flushing Meadows saw the doubles team of Coco Gauff and Caty McNally keep up their impressive run while Serena Williams and Roger Federer made quick work of their opponents.
NEW YORK — The bad news is that seven days of the U.S. Open are now in the books. The good news is that there are still seven days left of tennis, and we’re about to move into the business end of the year’s final Grand Slam.
Here are five thoughts on Sunday’s day session action.
— Coco Gauff’s singles tournament may have ended on Saturday night, when she was comprehensively beaten by No. 1 seed and defending champion Naomi Osaka, but Cocomania is still rampant. Everyone’s favorite 15-year-old teamed up with elder stateswoman Caty McNally, all of 17, to beat the No. 9-seeded team of Nicole Melichar and Kveta Peschke. “McCoco,” as they’re coming to be known, have not yet lost a set when playing doubles together … ever. Not when they won the 2018 U.S. Open juniors title; not at the Citi Open, where just a few weeks ago they received a wild card and won the title and not through two rounds here.
Neither Gauff nor McNally, who gave Serena Williams a genuine scare in the second round Wednesday night, were a legitimate threat to win singles. But they are absolutely a threat in the doubles draw. Their chemistry, both on and off the court, is readily visible. They are a team no one wants to face. Both are wonderfully well-rounded players with thoroughly impressive net games given their age. And their crowd support should reach third-doubles-partner level as they continue to progress. Next up is an intriguing matchup against two Grand Slam singles champions in Victoria Azarenka and Ash Barty. Doubles has experienced a resurgence this year, and McCoco will only bring more eyeballs to the two-person game. That match has Arthur Ashe night session written all over it.
— Load management is such a vitally important part of a two-week tennis tournament. It’s not just beating the players you’re supposed to. It’s beating them while expending as little energy as possible, especially in the first week. Serena Williams did just that Sunday, beating the athletic No. 22 seed Petra Martic 6-3, 6-4 in an hour and a half. She moves within three matches of tying Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles.
It was not without incident, though. At 2-2 in the second set, the 23-time Grand Slam champion rolled her right ankle while hitting a volley. If it affected her at all, she didn’t show it, as she played two brilliant points immediately after to secure the decisive break. She did take an injury timeout to get it taped up but had little issue closing out the match thereafter. It’s worth noting, though, that those types of injuries don’t really hit until hours after the incident. She could well wake up to a swollen and painful ankle. All eyes will be on her movement when she takes on No. 18 seed Qiang Wang, who beat No. 2 Ash Barty to reach her first-ever Grand Slam quarterfinal.
— On Friday, Roger Federer played the first match on Arthur Ashe and absolutely crushed Dan Evans in 79 minutes. On Sunday, Roger Federer played the first match on Arthur Ashe and absolutely crushed David Goffin in 79 minutes.
After laboring through his first two matches of the tournament—he dropped the opening set in his first-round match to Sumit Nagal (No. 190) and his second-round match to Damir Dzumhur (No. 99), Federer has breezed through the last two rounds, dropping just nine games combined in two routine victories. Both Goffin and Evans weren’t at their best, and neither player possesses any weaponry significant enough to trouble the world’s best players, but Federer will be delighted to keep the mileage down ahead of the second week.
And what a draw he’s been dealt. Next up will be Grigor Dimitrov, a player he’s beaten seven out of seven times they’ve played. Federer’s path to the semis has looked like this: Nagal-Dzumhur-Evans-Goffin-Dimitrov. If Novak Djokovic advances to face him in that potential matchup, he will likely have gotten past Stan Wawrinka and Daniil Medvedev … while dealing with a nagging shoulder injury. Advantage, Federer.
— Speaking of Dimitrov … if there was anyone who could have used a run to the quarters, it’s him. After he won the 2017 ATP Finals and reached world No. 3, he looked as good a threat as anyone to break up the Big 3 oligopoly. Since then, he’s battled injuries and dips in confidence and has fallen all the way to world No. 78, a breathtakingly low number for a player of his talent and age (28).
Today, he beat 20-year-old Alex de Minaur to reach the quarterfinal of the U.S. Open for the first time. He got lucky when No. 12 Borna Coric, his second-round opponent, pulled out due to injury. But sport is about taking advantage of opportunities, and he’s made the most of his. Credit to him for taking his struggles on the chin, not being discouraged and working his way back.
— The imbalance of prize money in tennis has been a topic of conversation throughout this tournament. There seems to be a consensus that while it’s great that overall purses keep growing, the huge gulf between what the top players earn and what the players in the 100-400 range take home needs to be remedied. This is a complicated and nuanced issue, and I’d implore you to watch this Tennis Channel discussion to understand the multiple angles.
R1: $58,000— Tennis Channel (@TennisChannel) September 1, 2019
Jim Courier, @JRBlake, @BrettHaber and @Jon_Wertheim discuss how restructuring the payout can help the game.
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