Sports are often unpredictable. Just when you think you have it figured out, the unexpected happens. Favorites don’t always win. Upsets are part of sports lore. In tennis, it’s all about making a name for yourself at the grand slams. Once, Agnieszka Radwanska upset Maria Sharapova at the U.S. Open. She became a top five player putting Poland on the map. The No.3 seed was sent packing by Ekaterina Makarova tonight. The No.24 seeded Russian followed up a third round win over Wimbledon runner up Sabine Lisicki to make the quarterfinals. If she can beat Li Na, that would be two consecutive top five players.
At the 2013 Open, upsets have become a regular occurrence. Lleyton Hewitt showed he still has some juice left upending Juan Martin Del Potro in a fantastic five setter. After another win, the 32-year old Aussie has a date with Mikhail Youzhny. Another gritty veteran who took out Tommy Haas in four sets today. Hard to believe. But here are two examples of tireless workers looking to set up a potential quarterfinal with world number one Novak Djokovic. What was supposed to be a showdown of heavy hitters Nole and DelPo is no more. Hewitt and Youzhny play similar styles. One will have the opportunity to make the semis. Who could’ve foreseen that? Not even the most daring expert.
For unheralded Spaniard Marcel Granollers, he can shock the world when he takes on Djokovic. A player with a career record under .500 who’s risen to 43. It’s as simple as beating who’s in front of you. Granollers will play in his first ever Round Of 16 match at Ashe Stadium on Labor Day. While no one expects him to pull it off, imagine what he’s thinking. A chance of a lifetime. That’s what it is. Once, Melanie Oudin was the toast of the town putting together one of the most amazing runs ever. Unfortunately, her luck ran out against Caroline Wozniacki. A former No.1 who took a seat Saturday falling to exciting 21-year old Italian Camila Giorgi. She’ll face countrywoman Roberta Vinci for a shot at the final eight. A player ranked outside the top 100 who sure can hit. Who do you think the crowd will be cheering for?
While form held with Serena Williams taking care of Sloane Stephens to avenge a loss at the Australian Open, left handed Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro ousted eighth seeded German Angelique Kerber to reach her first Open quarter. A solid player who gets the most of her talent, she will play in only her second slam quarter with the only other appearance coming at the ’09 Australian. That’s a long wait. Think she won’t be pumped up to face the best player on the planet?
For Simona Halep, it’s a chance to continue her hot play that saw her capture New Haven. Up to No.19, she can go even higher if she can topple another vet. Flavia Pennetta has always been a respected player. The gritty Italian seems to save her best for New York City. Three of the last four Opens, she’s made the quarters. Pennetta missed 2012 but is in line to make it four if she can defeat an emerging star. A winner of nine singles titles, she’ll put up a good fight.
American Allison Riske has already had a great tournament taking out two consecutive seeds including Petra Kvitova. Now, she can make her first quarterfinal with a win against experienced Slovak Daniela Hantuchova. Now 30, she once was ranked as high as five. After battling off court demons, she’s never really reached her full potential. In ’08, she appeared in semis down under but fell apart. She’s a solid doubles player teaming with unretired Hall Of Famer Martina Hingis. They lost in the first round. It’s probably the last opportunity she’ll get at going far in a major. An upstart against a vet. One will likely see Victoria Azarenka, who takes on tennis sweetheart Ana Ivanovic. Another former No.1 who won the French. Ivanovic always puts max effort in but isn’t the fleetest of foot. She’s a huge underdog against the high powered No.2 seeded Belarussian.
Wherever you look, there’s compelling match ups. On the men’s side, all the favorites are still around. There’s still a gap between our top five and the rest of the field. Especially Djokovic, Rafa Nadal, defending champ Andy Murray and Roger Federer. The biggest storyline has yet to be written. If Rafa and Roger win, they’ll meet for the first time ever at the Open. To think it could be a quarterfinal. A classic night session in the making. First things first. Federer faces Spanish vet Tommy Robredo and Nadal battles pesky German Phillipp Kohlschreiber, who for the second consecutive year ousted American John Isner in the same round. So much for Isner’s strong Open series. He admitted that he expended too much energy near the end of the fourth set. Instead of pushing it five, he went home. Kohlschreiber is a classic baseliner who makes opponents work. We’re just not too keen on if that can deter Nadal. By far the hottest player.
David Ferrer remains in the shadows. A first-time runner up at Roland Garros, he is the epitome of hard work. Always hustling down shots, Ferrer loves extended rallies and outworks opponents. Counted out due to a cold summer, here is one of the game’s most consistent players looking to reach the quarters for an eighth straight major. He’ll battle Janko Tipsarevic. A hard serving Serb who can be deadly from the baseline. The winner gets either Milos Raonic or Richard Gasquet. Raonic is well known. The big serving Canadian who’s in the top 10 looking to make his first dent at a slam. He has a great chance if he can get past Frenchman Gasquet. A solid player with one of the best one-handed backhands in the sport. A shot maker and risk taker. That should be a great match.
Stan Wawrinka edged Marcos Baghdatis in a tight four sets, nipping the popular Cypriot 9-7 in the fourth set breaker. He always springs to life on this stage. But will have to get through Tomas Berdych. One of the biggest hitters on tour. A guy you never want to see on the opposite side of the net. A guy Murray might have to deal with if he beats Denis Istomin. While most expect that to come down along with Rafa/Roger, there are sure to be a few more surprises along the way. All the more reason to watch.