Photo: Paul ZimmerTomas Berdych (CZE) - 2013 US Open
Tomas Berdych and Novak Djokovic spent little energy on a swelteringly humid middle Sunday in New York, producing two of the most assured performances of this year’s US Open by cantering into the fourth round with minimal fuss.
Both players seized a bagel first set as Djokovic bypassed Portugal’s Joao Sousa 60 62 62 and world No. 5 Berdych defeated Frenchman Julien Benneteau 60 63 62.
“It was a bit hot, a bit humid, but otherwise [the] tennis was good,” said Berdych. “I managed to stay focussed from the first point till the last, didn’t do any ups and downs, just took the chances that I had and won in straight sets.”
While Djokovic goes on to play Marcel Granollers, the Czech faces No. 9 seed Stanislas Wawrinka next, with a likely quarterfinal against No. 3 seed Andy Murray up for grabs to the winner.
Murray, the reigning US Open champion, had a tougher time dealing with the conditions in his third round match but kicked on after a tough opening set to defeat Florian Mayer 76 62 62.
“I was struggling breathing for most of the match,” admitted Murray. “I just went to the toilet [after the second set]. It was quite a long set. When it’s that humid, you tend to try and take on as much fluid as you can.”
Murray could face a repeat of last year’s US Open semifinal against Berdych in the last eight, or a 14th career duel with Wawrinka, who ousted him in the third round in New York in 2010, but the world No. 3 must first negotiate Denis Istomin. The Uzbek defeated Andreas Seppi in five sets on Sunday to match his best Grand Slam result – a fourth round finish at 2012 Wimbledon.
“Technically he's very sound,” said Murray of the 26-year-old Uzbek. “He's a good player. He hits the ball very flat.”
Lleyton Hewitt and Mikhail Youzhny will duel in the fourth round after defeating Evgeny Donskoy and Tommy Haas respectively on Sunday, while in the women’s draw top seed Serena Williams booked her place in the quarterfinals after defeating compatriot Sloane Stephens 64 61.
“The quality of the tennis was great,” said Williams, who has reached the last eight 11 times in her 14 appearances at Flushing Meadows. “Sloane's a great player. It definitely had feelings more of a quarterfinal or a semifinal match [today].”
Williams next faces No. 18 seed Carla Suarez Navarro, who stunned No. 8 seed Angelique Kerber in a third set tiebreak on Sunday, while Na Li also caused a surprise with the ease of her 63 60 win over No. 9 seed Jelena Jankovic.