US Open Day 6: 'Warrior' Ons finds a way, Carlos marches on

Tunisian pushed to her limits by Bouzkova as Alcaraz shines on Ashe

Ons Jabeur / 3e tour US Open 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT
 - Reem Abulleil

The last remaining fourth round spots have been filled and we're officially into week two of the US Open.

Here's what you may have missed from a thrilling Saturday at Flushing Meadows.

Jabeur lives to fight another day

Last year’s finalist Ons Jabeur is embracing the challenges coming her way this fortnight at the US Open as she punched her ticket to the fourth round by surviving a gruelling three-hour affair against Czech No.31 seed Marie Bouzkova 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-3 on Saturday night on Arthur Ashe stadium.

The Tunisian world No.5 was two points away from defeat but pulled off a second consecutive three-set victory, having also gone the distance against Linda Noskova in the previous round.

Jabeur erased a 2-5 deficit in the opening set but double-faulted on Bouzkova’s third set point to trail the Czech after one hour of brutal play.

In the second set, the 29-year-old led 4-2 before Bouzkova walked off court for a medical timeout for a leg problem. Jabeur got broken while serving for the second set but edged the tiebreak to level the match, and secured the victory on her third opportunity in the decider.

Ons Jabeur / 3e tour US Open 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

“I think we both had a great battle tonight, and hopefully I'll continue getting this warrior symbol with me during this great tournament,” said Jabeur, who has been battling the flu since her opening round in New York.

“I don't think there are easy matches. It's okay. I'm testing myself. I love fighting. I trust my body. I know I can go all the way playing three sets, no problem.”

Jabeur, who has made the finals in three of her last five Grand Slams, will next take on China’s No.23 seed Zheng Qinwen for a spot in the quarter-finals.

“Let's see. This is a fun tournament. Not fun starting being sick. I feel like this tournament is testing me and showing me that I have a lot of strength, that I can go really far and maybe have a great result here,” added Jabeur.

Alcaraz, Sinner still on collision course

Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner are one step away from squaring off in a highly-anticipated quarter-final in New York – a rematch of their epic clash at the same stage last year – as they each claimed convincing four-set victories in round three on Saturday.

Defending champion Alcaraz, who is now on a 10-match winning streak at the US Open and at the Grand Slams, dropped a set against an inspired Daniel Evans and dropped many jaws with his inconceivable shot-making abilities.

Carlos Alcaraz / 3e tour US Open 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

The Spanish human highlight reel once again put on a show for the Arthur Ashe crowd as he posted a 6-2, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 victory in three hours and 11 minutes.

His reward is a last-16 meeting with Italian debutant Matteo Arnaldi.

No man has successfully defended the US Open singles title since Roger Federer won five in a row between 2004 and 2008 and Alcaraz is hoping to change that.

“Obviously defending the title here is a goal for me, I am looking for that. I think nobody else defended the title here since Roger Federer. So I would love to be part of the tournament history with Roger, defending the title. It’s my main goal right now,” said the 20-year-old Alcaraz during his on-court interview.

Over on Louis Armstrong Stadium, No.6 seed Sinner moved past 2016 champion Stan Wawrinka 6-3, 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 to reach the US Open fourth round for a third consecutive year.

Sinner is into the last-16 stage at a Grand Slam for the 10th time in 16 major appearances and has improved to 4-2 head-to-head against Wawrinka.

The 22-year-old Italian will face No.12 seed Alexander Zverev for a place in the quarter-finals.

Jannik Sinner / 3e tour US Open 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

Pegula, Sabalenka advance

Home favourite and No.3 seed Jessica Pegula knew she was in for a tough battle before she stepped on Arthur Ashe Stadium on Saturday to take on Ukrainian Elina Svitolina and the pair did not disappoint, treating the crowd to a high-quality affair, which went the way of the American 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.

Svitolina has made a remarkable return from maternity leave, giving birth to her daughter Skai in October 2022 and playing the US Open as the No.26 seed just 10 months later.

“I feel that my game is getting better. I feel good on the court. Of course, tough days sometimes. Today played against world No.3. It's not easy,” said Svitolina, who earlier this year reached the Roland-Garros quarter-finals and Wimbledon semi-finals in her first two Grand Slams back.

“But I feel like I'm there, competitive against top players. Played well, good matches. I'm happy with my level. I just want to take some time off right now to recover physically and go again.”

Pegula will face fellow American Madison Keys in the fourth round.

“When we saw the draw, we’ve been in the same section every single tournament like the last three or four tournaments, and we’re like, ‘I think the world just wants us to play’. So I’m glad that we get to put on a show for your guys,” said Pegula of her upcoming clash with Keys during her on-court interview.

“She’s an amazing player, super powerful, she’s been playing really well and pretty confident so it’s going to be really tough.”

Earlier in the day, Aryna Sabalenka kept her bid for the No.1 ranking alive with a 60-minute 6-1, 6-1 victory over France’s Clara Burel to reach the US Open fourth round for a third straight year.  

The No.2 seed can replace Iga Swiatek at the summit of the rankings if she goes at least one round better than the Pole this fortnight.

Sabalenka will next face No.13 seed Daria Kasatkina, who has made it through to the last-16 stage in New York for the first time since 2017 with a 6-3, 6-4 success over Belgium’s Greet Minnen.

Aryna Sabalenka / 3e tour US Open 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

Breakthrough of the day

Contesting just the third Grand Slam main draw of his career, and his first US Open, 22-year-old Matteo Arnaldi knocked out No.16 seed Cameron Norrie to reach the fourth round at a major for the very first time.

The world No.61 wrapped up a 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 victory over Norrie in under two hours, to book a dream last-16 clash with Alcaraz – a match Arnaldi had circled on the draw before the tournament had started.

“When I saw the draw, that was my goal, to go and play against him. But I never played against a world No.1. It's just something crazy to think what I was at the start of the year and where I am now. I'm just try to think match after match and to enjoy this moment,” said the Italian, who was ranked 134 at the start of this season, and was 1-5 at tour-level on hard courts coming into this US Open.

In what was just the second top-20 victory of his career, Arnaldi fired five aces, was an impressive 11/14 at the net and converted 5/6 break points against Norrie.

“I think I played one of the best match of the year for me,” said Arnaldi.

“It was a bit crazy. I'm a bit speechless. But I think I played really, really well. We planned to do what I did and it worked for all the match.

“I think he wasn't expecting also me to play like that.

“A lot of experience for me. I'm playing for the first time big players like him, and first time in the fourth round, was my first US Open main draw. I always liked this place. I always played very well from when I was junior.

“So all this emotion together, I think I was able to play my best tennis. I have a lot of friends here. It was fun also. I enjoy to play.”

Shot of the day

This ridiculous forehand get from Alcaraz, which he struck from way behind the baseline for a down-the-line passing shot winner to break Evans for 4-2 in the fourth set understandably left the Brit, and everyone watching, stunned.

It wouldn’t be surprising if this ends up being the shot of the tournament!

Stats of the day

100 – Madison Keys claimed the 100th Grand Slam singles match-win of her career with a 5-7, 6-2, 6-2 victory over Liudmila Samsonova on Saturday. The American No.17 seed is through to the US Open fourth round for the sixth time in 12 appearances, and the first time since 2019. Her record in main draw singles matches at the majors now stands at 100-41 win-loss.

5 – 2021 champion Daniil Medvedev is through to the fourth round at the US Open for a fifth consecutive year as he snapped Sebastian Baez's 12-match winning streak with a 6-2, 6-2, 7-6(6) performance against the Argentine on Saturday.