NEW YORK — Aryna Sabalenka, Madison Keys and defending champion Carlos Alcaraz moved into the US Open quarter-finals.
Sabalenka blasted past Daria Kasatkina 6-1 6-3 to reach the US Open quarter-finals for the third year in a row, subduing her opponent with her powerful forehand inside Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Keys stunned third seed Jessica Pegula 6-1 6-3 in an all-American clash on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Alcaraz had little trouble beating unseeded Matteo Arnaldi 6-3, 6-3, 6-4, the third time in as many appearances he´s gotten at least that far at Flushing Meadows.
Keys crashed out of the first round at Cincinnati last month but appeared right at home on the New York hard courts, where she was runner-up in 2017, as she overwhelmed her opponent with 21 winners.
Pegula beat the 17th seed Keys in their only previous meeting last year and was considered as one of the US’s brightest hopes after winning the Montreal title last month.
However, she lacked her usual firepower and finesse. “I’ve had so many amazing moments in New York,” said Keys, who is playing in her 12th US Open main draw.
“Being able to at any moment come back from any difficult positions I’ve been in matches has been amazing.”
Keys broke her opponent’s serve with a backhand winner in the second game of the first set and broke Pegula again on the fourth try in game six.
Pegula was clearly off her game and threw her racquet down in frustration as she helped Keys to the break with a double fault and a backhand error in the fifth game of the second set.
Pegula broke back immediately in the sixth game but Keys kept her cool, retaking the lead as she broke her opponent’s serve in the seventh game.
Keys, who counts Pegula as a close friend, pumped her fist in a subdued celebration as the top-ranked American dropped her serve again when she sent a forehand shot into the net on match point.
“It’s always tough having to play a friend… when we get on the court it’s all business,” she said in courtside interview.
Alcaraz, 20-year-old, joined Andre Agassi as the only men to reach three US Open quarter-finals before the age of 21 in the Open Era (since 1968).
“The intensity from the start to the last ball, I think I played a really solid match,” Alcaraz said. “Less mistakes. I played my game. Tried to go to the net all the time. I am really happy with the performance and I am happy to be through.”
Alcaraz, the defending US Open champion, had just two aces against Arnaldi’s four, and Arnaldi saved 7 of 12 break points. But Alcaraz won 38 of his 49 first-service points (77.6 percent) and 27 of 37 points at the net (73 percent).
Alcaraz had 31 winners to Arnaldi’s 22. “Right now my favorite surface is hard court, and when I won Wimbledon I said I fell in love with grass,” Alcaraz said.
“I am really comfortable with the three surfaces, but right now hard courts is my favorite one.”
No. 8 seed Andrey Rublev of Russia got past Great Britain’s Jack Draper 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 to reach the quarterfinals.
Draper edged Rublev 18-14 in aces, but Rublev won an impressive 53 of 63 first-service points (84.1 per cent). He overcame Draper saving 13 of his 17 break points and capitalized on Draper’s 36 unforced errors.