The US Open women’s draw was blown wide open by a series of upsets on Friday, but it was business as usual on the men’s side with Roger Federer leading a parade of seeds into the third round at the year’s final Grand Slam.
The shockwaves began early on another sunny day at Flushing Meadows with 32-year-old qualifier Mirjana Lucic-Baroni dismissing Romanian second seed Simona Halep 7-6 (8/6), 6-2 to reach the fourth round.
Lucic-Baroni, who failed to build on her run to the 1999 Wimbledon semi-finals, was almost overcome by the victory.
“I mean, I’m a little bit emotional now. Sorry,” she said, wiping away tears. “It’s been really hard. After so many years to be here again, it’s incredible. I wanted this so bad. So many times I would get to ... a place where I could do it. Then I wanted it so bad that I’m kind of burned out. I’m so happy.”
The tremors continued at the US National Tennis Centre as Swiss teen Belinda Bencic ousted sixth-seeded German Angelique Kerber 6-1, 7-5 to reach the round of 16 in her US Open debut.
The tournament also lost a fan favorite when Italy’s Sara Errani posted her first career win over twice champion and 19th seed Venus Williams, coming out on top in an absorbing roller-coaster clash 6-0, 0-6, 7-6 (7/5).
By the time fifth seed Maria Sharapova had closed out the action under the Arthur Ashe Stadium floodlights with a labored 6-2, 6-4 win over Germany’s Sabine Lisicki, the top of the women’s draw had lost four of the top eight seeds.
However, the top 10 men’s seeds remain intact.
Federer, Spanish fourth seed David Ferrer, sixth-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych and seventh-seeded Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov all advanced on Friday.
The highest-ranked casualty was Ernests Gulbis of Latvia, the 11th seed, who was ousted by 45th-ranked Dominic Thiem of Austria 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.
Federer, chasing an 18th Grand Slam title, served up a tidy 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 win over big-hitting Australian Sam Groth to ease into the third round.
The former world No. 1 has feasted on Australian opponents in Grand Slams over the years, piling up an 18-1 record against men from Down Under, and Groth, who was facing a top 10 opponent for the first time, proved little more than a distraction to the Swiss maestro.
Throughout the one hour and 48 minutes contest the Australian took his best shots at the 33-year-old, including booming serves of more than 225kph.
“The 142 [mph, 228.5kph], honestly I hit it and I turned around,” Federer said. “I didn’t know if it went into the stands or the bottom of the net or on the other side. I just felt like I hit it clean. The 147 one I felt like I was there and felt like I had more control on it. The difference between 142 and 147, there’s none really in the racquet. I think once you pass the 135 range, everything is just really fast.”
Ferrer reached the third round without lifting his racket when Australian Bernard Tomic withdrew with a hip injury, while Dimitrov breezed into the third round with a 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 win over Israel’s Dudi Sela.
Berdych had a much tougher time, needing five sets and 3 hours, 45 minutes to tame Martin Klizan of Slovakia 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.
Richard Gasquet, seeded 12th, and Gael Monfils, 20th, advanced in straight sets to set up an all-French collision for a berth in the fourth round.
Working harder was 18th-seeded South African Kevin Anderson, a four-set winner against Jerzy Janowicz of Poland, while Spain’s 19th seed Feliciano Lopez won a fourth-set tiebreaker to advance past Japanese qualifier Tatsuma Ito.