US Open - Day 4: Swiatek and Nadal soar, Badosa bows out

 - Alex Sharp

Plenty of stars are rising to the occasion following several spectacular second round contests in the Big Apple

Iga Swiatek / 2e tour US Open 2022©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

By the third round of a Grand Slam you really get a sense of who is ready for a deep run towards the final showdown.

The 2022 US Open is no different with major names and NextGen stars all pushing into title contention.

Nadal flips the script on Fognini

Seven years ago on the very same court Fabio Fognini stunned Rafael Nadal from two sets down.

On Thursday night Rafael Nadal rallied from a set and break down, along with a bloodied nose, to gain US Open revenge over the Italian 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-1 on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Up 3-2 in the third set, reading a smash putaway from the former world No.9, Nadal raced left, pinned to the backboard, and clattered a huge forehand to ignite a pumped up, bicep curled celebration.

It was the catalyst for victory, but there was some drama for the four-time US Open champion, with his racket frame bouncing onto his nose after a miscued low shot.

“At the beginning I thought I broke the nose because it was a shock at the beginning. Was very painful,” said Nadal a high-spirited Nadal, 21-0 in Grand Slam play this year.

“That's just a shock some way I deserved to play that bad for a while. No, I’m joking.”

Luckily some taping did the trick and the Spaniard booked an encounter with another familiar foe, Richard Gasquet.

“One of the worst starts, probably ever,” claimed Nadal, who struck 37 unforced errors under the lights.

“But that’s part of the game. You need to stay humble, you need to accept the situation. It hasn’t been an easy month for me, so I know this kind of stuff can happen. It’s another opportunity for me. I’m still alive after a match like this. That means a lot.”

Swiatek still leading the pack

2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens was a nasty second round draw, but Iga Swiatek was in sumptuous form to seal a 6-3, 6-2 scoreline.

The world No.1 is thrilled by her consistency at the Grand Slams and is embracing a clearer head having competed at Roland-Garros as well as Wimbledon during her outstanding 37-match winning streak earlier this season.

“I think I had some moments during that streak where it was for sure tough. It was like harder for me to not think about it. But I was really in the zone, and I was going with the flow with all these wins. So I used that pretty well,” explained the Pole, through to take on another American Lauren Davis.

“I would say I really enjoyed that position. Right now, for sure I have less on my mind, but on the other hand there are also other things that you need to work on. It's always, in sports, you have always something that you need to adjust. Just I have other challenges right now, different challenges.”

Sixth seed Aryna Sabalenka put in an astonishing comeback from a set and 5-1 down to inch past Kaia Kanepi 2-6,7-6(8), 6-4. French youngster Clara Burel awaits in the last 32, having posted 6-4 in the decider with Alison van Uytvanck.

American No.1 Jessica Pegula clinched two entertaining sets against Aliaksandra Sasnovich, Belinda Bencic rallied from a set deficit to beat Sorana Cirstea and two-time major winner Garbine Muguruza put in a polished performance 6-0, 6-4 to halt Czech protégé Linda Fruhvirtova.

“Very happy. It's been a while since I don't put a couple of victories together. I was facing a very young opponent, it can be a tricky round, not knowing much about her and being a rising star,” stated Muguruza, with a scintillating clash with Petra Kvitova on Saturday. 

“I don't think there is any difference. I think we are both playing good tennis. She just played a final a week ago I think that she has beaten me the last few times we played, and here (2017). But it's going to be a good challenge for me in the third round.”

Featuring in her record 63rd consecutive Grand Slam, Alize Cornet continued her journey in three sets with Ekaterina Siniakova and will take on 19th seed Danielle Collins in a potentially pulsating last 32 duel.

However, No.4 seed Paula Badosa waved goodbye to the US Open following a 6-7(5), 6-1, 6-2 defeat by Petra Martic.

Alcaraz taking inspiration from Serena

Carlos Alcaraz motored into the third round by relinquishing just eight games to Federico Coria.

The teenage crowd favourite was told Coco Gauff thought during the Roland-Garros final, ‘What would Carlos do?,’ and Naomi Osaka wants to learn his brave brand of tennis from match videos.

“I’m trying to show all the players that you have enjoy, to go for it, to show your best level in the best moment, in the best style,” stated the Spaniard.

“I could say Serena. Serena inspire me a lot. Last match was amazing, and of course during her career inspire me, and a lot of players.”

Carlos Alcaraz / 2e tour US Open 2022©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

Alcaraz has a huge test in the last 32 over the net from Jenson Brooksby. The American, who took a set off Novak Djokovic in the fourth round last year, outclassed Cincinnati champion Borna Coric 6-4, 7-6(10), 6-1 in feisty affair.

“It's going to be a good, competitive battle out there,” said Brooksby ahead of meeting Alcaraz. “It's someone I've wanted to play. I'm really excited to go out there, compete, and show what I can do.”

Jannik Sinner enjoyed an entertaining 6-4, 7-6(8), 6-2 scoreline versus American qualifier Christopher Eubanks and he’ll take on Grigor Dimitrov’s conqueror Brandon Nakashima.

Cameron Norrie and Dan Evans – joining Andy Murray and Jack Draper – secured four British men in the US Open singles third round for the first time in the Open Era.  

Denis Shapovalov and Andrey Rublev booked a blazing third round tussle, but eighth seed Hubert Hurkacz was sent packing 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-3 by world No.73 Ilya Ivashka.

Day 5 awesome Order of Play

Once again the Arthur Ashe Stadium line-up is extraordinary. 2012 champion Andy Murray will hope to continue his resurgence with victory over the sledgehammer tennis of 13th seed Matteo Berrettini. 

The all-American encounter between Madison Keys and Gauff will be well worth a watch.

Into the night session and it’s Serena showtime. Could it be the final farewell? The 23-time Grand Slam champion seeks to fend off retirement going toe-to-toe with world No.46 Ajla Tomljanovic.

Defending champion Daniil Medvedev closes out the day with an enticing battle with Chinese star Yibing Wu.

How about this Louis Armstrong Stadium night session double bill? Recent Cincinnati champion Caroline Garcia will be pushed to the limit by 2019 champion Bianca Andreescu. Then American J.J. Wolf will attempt to out hotshot 23rd seed Nick Kyrgios.

Earlier on the same court Ons Jabeur will look to boost her title credentials taking on the home charge Shelby Rogers and Roland-Garros finalist Casper Ruud has another home talent Tommy Paul over the net.