US Open - Day 6: Kvitova keeps thrillers rolling in at Flushing Meadows

Rollercoaster contests are enhancing the enthralling narrative at the 2022 US Open ahead of the second week action.

Petra Kvitova / 3e tour US Open 2022©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT
 - Alex Sharp

Saturday signalled the fourth round rosters completed at the 2022 US Open and the line-ups are big in the Big Apple.

The world’s best are putting everything on the line to keep their Flushing Meadows adventure progressing into the second week. Here is what you may have missed from New York…

Petra prevails in “nightmare”

This had a ‘match of the tournament’ vibe as soon as these two major players strolled onto court. Both with two Grand Slam titles to their name, Garbiñe Muguruza and Petra Kvitova simply put on a show.

The Spaniard had two match points at 6-5 in a blistering deciding set, before Kvitova rallied in a catalogue of top-tier points to inch to a 5-7, 6-3, 7-6[12-10] triumph.

The match tie-break was enthralling, not that Kvitova agreed.

“I really had to fight, fight, fight, to win this match, especially with a break down in the third one. Facing few match points on my serve, and then the tie-break was just nightmare,” said the 32-year-old. 

“I'm glad that somehow worked out, it was a big relief after the match points. Finally!”

The Czech took inspiration from Serena Williams fending off five match points on Friday night during her movie-style last ever singles match, before succumbing to an inspired Ajla Tomljanovic

“It was very special, she didn't want to leave the court, for sure. That was the same case with me today actually,” continued Kvitova. “I didn't want to go out of this tournament, so I was just there hanging somehow. But I think that's what Serena showed last night.”

The Cincinnati finalist is in red hot form and will hope to return to the US Open quarter-finals (2015, 2017) when taking on American No. 1 Jessica Pegula on Monday.

The world No. 8 claimed a 6-2, 6-7(6), 6-0 scoreline to down Chinese qualifier Yuan Yue to move into her home major second week for the very first time.

“Sounds like she had an amazing match. I heard it roar over there (Grandstand) in the middle of the tie-break and then I saw (on the screens) they replayed the match point. I played her two years ago and I know it’s going to be tough no matter what,” stated Pegula, referring to a 6-4, 6-3 loss in 2020.

“I think I'm a much better player now than I was when I played her last time. Petra is so hard to play, I feel like when she's on she blows you off the court and then sometimes she can be off. She's a fighter. When it clicks, it's really difficult." 

Rublev pride brimming after close shave

Just like with Kvitova, there was match point drama in Andrey Rublev’s turbulent 6-4, 2-6, 6-7(3), 6-4, 7-6[10-7] tussle with 19th seed Denis Shapovalov on a packed Grandstand.

Shapovalov staved off defeat twice on Rublev’s serve at 5-4 down in the final set and the Canadian managed to haul the world No.11 into a match tie-break.

The scorching shots kept flying off both racket’s until Rublev let out an almighty roar as the victor.

“Obviously it was a crazy match. Obviously Denis deserved to win as well, as we all know,” Rublev reflected, buoyed by his ability to bounce back. “I was just telling to myself, Just finish the match, do your best. You go outside of the court, you have no regrets. Then we'll see what happens. This moment I feel double proud of myself now.”

The 24-year-old, a two-time US Open quarter-finalist (2017, 2020), is rewarded with a last 16 duel with in-form Brit Cameron Norrie. The No.7 seed dismissed Holger Rune by dropping just 10 games. 

The way he plays, he make you go for extra shots, to take extra risk. If you take extra risk, normally you miss more,” added Rublev, level 1-1 in their previous bouts. “He move really well. Is going to be long rallies. Is going to be mental. Match is going to be really physical match. Then it's going to be smart tennis because to beat him you have to play really smart.”

Usual suspects secure second week tickets

Carlos Alcaraz became the youngest man to reach the US Open fourth round in back-to-back years since Pete Sampras in 1989-90. Not bad company.

The 19-year-old was at his showman best on Arthur Ashe Stadium, orchestrating the crowd with some spellbinding tennis. American NextGen prospect Jenson Brooksby played his part too, as the rallies reached computer game levels.

Despite falling a double break down in the third set, Alcaraz lined up a last 16 battle with 2014 champion Marin Cilic with 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 on the match card.

World No.1 Iga Swiatek is hitting her stride just at the right time, conjuring up three consecutive victories for the first time since lifting the Roland-Garros silverware in early June.

The Pole, now 53-7 in a remarkable 2022 campaign, reeled in American Lauren Davis from 1-4 in the second set with 20 of the final 25 points to motor on 6-3, 6-4.

The 21-year-old will face Wimbledon breakout quarter-finalist Jule Niemeier in the fourth round after the German posted an impressive 6-4, 7-6(5) victory over Zheng Qinwen.  

There was double French heartache as home charge Danielle Collins pipped Alize Cornet 6-4, 7-6(9) and No.6 seed Aryna Sabalenka ended Clara Burel’s run 6-0, 6-2.

“I'm not really a vengeful person. I just come out here and do my best. I love to compete,” said Collins, with Sabalenka up next. “Any win is a bonus. Lucky to be here with a lot of the challenges I've faced. I'm motivated from within. I work my tail off. I've got an incredible work ethic.”

Meanwhile, former finalists Victoria Azarenka and Karolina Pliskova booked a last 16 encounter.

It was business as usual for Rafael Nadal. The four-time US Open champion dispatched longstanding friend Richard Gasquet 6-0, 6-1, 7-5 to chalk up his 30th Arthur Ashe Stadium night session victory. In doing so the Spaniard is 22-0 in Grand Slam play this season and wants to see a step up in the fourth round with Frances Tiafoe. 

“I know is the right moment to make an improvement if I want to keep having chances to keep going on the tournament,” insisted Nadal, 2-0 in previous contests with Tiafoe. "I need to increase the amount of energy. I need to increase the level intensity on the court.”

11th seed Jannik Sinner completed the last 16 list, overhauling Brandon Nakashima from a set down to advance to go toe-to-toe with Ilya Ivashka.

Day 7 treats in store

Lucky loser Corentin Moutet seeks more magic up against Roland-Garros finalist Casper Ruud to open play on Arthur Ashe Stadium. They’re followed by Coco Gauff taking on China’s Zhang Shuai.

The night session sees an ultimate popcorn showdown between world No.1 Daniil Medvedev and Nick Kyrgios. The in-form Australian recently defeated the top seed in three sets at the Montreal Masters.

No.5 seed Ons Jabeur closes the night session in action with Veronika Kudermetova.

Caroline Garcia headlines Louis Armstrong Stadium, seeking a first Grand Slam quarter-final since Roland-Garros 2017, taking on Alison Riske-Amritraj.