Maria Sharapova on Friday rolled into the last 16 at the US Open by overpowering US teen Sofia Kenin while a wide-open side of the men’s draw lost 2014 champion Marin Cilic.
Former world No. 1 Sharapova, the 2006 US Open winner in her first Grand Slam since serving a 15-month doping ban, downed the 139th-ranked wild card 7-5, 6-2 and moved into a fourth-round clash with Latvian 16th seed Anastasija Sevastova.
Five-time Grand Slam champion Sharapova, who tested positive for the blood booster meldonium at last year’s Australian Open, reached the round of 16 for the 14th time in 15 Grand Slams since the 2011 US Open.
Sharapova, who returned from her ban in April, was snubbed for a wild card in the French Open and injured for Wimbledon, but was given a US Open wild card, despite playing only one hard-court tune-up match due to a forearm injury.
The 30-year-old Russian broke Kenin with a forehand winner after 66 minutes to swipe the first set, exchanged early second-set breaks on double faults, then broke again in the sixth and final games for the victory.
Sharapova blasted eight aces and 38 winners with 33 unforced errors, while Kenin hit only seven winners in the match.
Croatian fifth seed Cilic, idled after Wimbledon until this week due to an adductor strain, was eliminated 4-6, 7-5, 7-5, 6-4 by Argentine 29th seed Diego Schwartzman.
“[The injury] played a quite significant part, and just being injured and not being able to keep that good form,” Cilic said.
Cilic’s exit ensured a first-time Grand Slam finalist will come from his draw half, which now lacks a top-10 player and has only one Grand Slam semi-finalist, American Sam Querrey, who made it to the Wimbledon semis in July.
“Everyone is improving,” Cilic said. “And you have a lot of youngsters coming up that are playing better.”
Prime among them is Canadian teen Denis Shapovalov, who became the youngest man since 1989 into the US Open last 16.
The 18-year-old Israeli-born world No. 69 advanced when Britain’s Kyle Edmund retired with a neck injury with the Canadian leading 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, 1-0.
Not since 17-year-old Michael Chang in 1989 had a younger player cracked the fourth round in New York. No qualifier had reached the last 16 since Gilles Muller in 2008.
Shapovalov is to play for a quarter-final berth against Spanish 12th seed Pablo Carreno Busta, who ousted French qualifier Nicolas Mahut 6-3, 6-4, 6-3.
The Spaniard, who has not dropped a set, will become the first player to face four qualifiers at a Grand Slam in the Open Era (since 1967).
With US 10th seed John Isner being ousted 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (7/5) by German 23rd seed Mischa Zverev, Carreno Busta became the top remaining seed in his half of the draw. Zverev gets US 17th seed Querrey next.
Italy’s Paolo Lorenzi, 35, became the oldest player in the Open Era to reach a Grand Slam last 16 for the first time by defeating compatriot Thomas Fabbiano 6-2, 6-4, 6-4.
Lorenzi next meets South African Kevin Anderson, who beat Croatian Borna Coric 6-4, 6-3, 6-2.
Anderson has won all 43 of his US Open service games and saved all 14 break points he has faced.
US ninth seed Venus Williams beat Greece’s 95th-ranked Maria Sakkari 6-3, 6-4.
Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza needed only 62 minutes to defeat Slovakian 31st seed Magdalena Rybarikova 6-1, 6-1 and continue her best US Open run, as well as take command of the fight for women’s world No. 1.
Only current No. 1 Karolina Pliskova and fourth-seeded Elina Svitolina can prevent Muguruza from reaching the top spot for the first time.
“I’m taking every match as a final here,” Muguruza said.
Awaiting Muguruza next is Czech 13th seed Petra Kvitova, the 2011 and 2014 Wimbledon champion who defeated French 18th seed Caroline Garcia 6-0, 6-4.
Chen Jifang hits the gym for at least two hours every day and has the physique to prove it. At nearly 70, she is being held up as a shining example as China orders its vast population to get fit and lose the bulge. The grandmother from Shanghai has become a minor celebrity in in the past few months after her newfound and unlikely love for working out made national headlines. After becoming a gym regular in December 2018, Chen lost 14kg in three months, and now sports the kind of flat stomach and toned muscles that people decades younger aspire to. She
‘GREAT EVENING‘: In the women’s singles in Rome, Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova advanced, while Rafael Nadal swept into the quarters in the men’s singles Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Friday had to dig deep to advance to the semi-finals of the women’s doubles at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. The top seeds, who did not drop a game in their opening match on the clay courts at the Foro Italico, battled to a 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 victory over sixth seeds Veronika Kudermetova and Katerina Siniakova in 1 hour, 39 minutes. The reigning Wimbledon champions saved nine of 11 break points and converted three of eight, winning 56 percent of points on their second serve and sending down two aces
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