Two-time defending champion Serena Williams saw little resistance in her fourth round match at the US Open, handling unseeded Kaia Kanepi in straight sets 6-3, 6-3.
Kanepi, who reached the fourth round after her surprising straight-set upset of No. 15 Carla Suarez Navarro, was no match for the tournament's top seed. In just over an hour, Williams battered her opponent with a string of backhand volleys and powerful serves, at one point topping out at 119 MPH.
Having won the first set 6-3 and up 5-3 in the second, Williams broke Kanepi to take the match and secure a spot in the quarterfinals against Italy's No. 11 Flavia Pennetta. Williams won 84 percent of her first serves and bashed eight aces to zero for Kanepi. She also broke Kanepi five times.
"She plays really well, she's plays incredibly hard," Williams said of Kanepi. "I said Serena, whatever happens, you're still in doubles."
The win, while seemingly unremarkable, guarantees Williams her first major quarterfinal appearance this season, and with several of the top seeds already out, her path to an 18th Grand Slam has become significantly easier.
"I finally made a quarterfinal this year!" a relieved Williams said with her arms raised. "I think I felt it in my serving game ... Can I please get to a Grand Slam quarterfinal?"
Monday's win ensures she'll do just that.
No. 7 Eugenie Bouchard upset by No. 17 Makarova
Buoyed by the heat, Ekaterina Makarova took down No. 7 seed Eugenie Bouchard in straight sets on Monday afternoon, winning 7-6, 6-4 to advance to the quarterfinals.
The first set went to tiebreak under the oppressive Open sun, and Bouchard was only able to record two points.
Makarova took the second set with greater ease as Bouchard wilted. After the fifth game of the second, play stopped and Bouchard was checked by a trainer while cooling off under bags of ice. Temperatures rose to the high eighties while on-court temperatures were even hotter. Down 4-2, Bouchard somehow recovered and broke the No. 17 seed, battling back to even before succumbing to her opponent.
Makarova will face the winner of Aleksandra Krunic or No. 16 Victoria Azarenka. The loss snaps Bouchard's streak of having reached the semifinals of each Grand Slam this season. She reached the Wimbledon final earlier this summer to help vault her into the top-10.
Bouchard, who dropped to 0-2 all-time vs. Makarova, had 31 unforced errors and she struggled with her second serves, converting just 44 percent of her opportunities. Makarova kept Bouchard unnerved, and at one point, the young Canadian was so frustrated she slammed her racket into the ground.
Bouchard is the latest top seed to bow out at the US Open, after No. 2 seed Simona Halep and No. 3 seed Petra Kvitova each lost along with other top-8 contenders.
Top seed Djokovic advances to quarters:
Through four rounds at the US Open, Novak Djokovic is flawless.
Barely an empty seat out here on Louis Armstrong for Djokovic-Kohlscreiber....Hot and humid, too. pic.twitter.com/phnnkndBdE— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) September 1, 2014
Djokovic entered Monday's fourth round match against Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber, the No. 22 seed, having not dropped a set at the year's final major, a perfect 9-for-9. He continued that pattern, clinically ousting Kohlschreiber 6-1, 7-5, 6-4.
After a dominant opening set, Djokovic saved set point in the second with a killer forehand and eventually went on to take a 2-0 lead. After the point, he implored the crowd to get up and cheer. Kohlschreiber battled in the third, working it to 5-4 before Djokovic, on serve, eventually took the final game and match.
It took Djokovic just over two hours to win on Monday, despite hot and sticky conditions in New York.
"It was very humid for both of us, a lot of long rallies," Djokovic said after the win. "The match could've gone either way, especially in the second set."
It's Djokovic's 22nd straight Grand Slam quarterfinals appearance, a mind-numbing stat when you think about it. Asked how he sustains that streak, Djokovic said "I love this sport, I play with a lot of passion. ... I have a great team around me, encouraging me. That drives me."
Aside from that streak, Djokovic appears to be working on a new tradition of sorts. He danced following his second round win to Iggy Azalea's "Fancy" (she liked it so much, she plugged the story, herself), and he was once again asked to break it down in front of the Open crowd.
Much to the crowd's delight, he obliged.
"Thank you all for coming out. Because you've been so nice, I'm gonna gve you a little dance with the music."
Dance it out Novak. http://t.co/mOmX7pfdsT— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) September 1, 2014
The seven-time Grand Slam winner is seeking his second US Open crown (2011). He'll face Andy Murray in the quarters.
Andy Murray wins in straight sets
Andy Murray overcame cramps, humidity and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga's monster serves to advance to the quarterfinals of the US Open on Monday afternoon. Murray handled the No. 9 seed 7-5, 7-5, 6-4. His efforts earned him a match against world No. 1 Novak Djokovic.
After trading games and eventually gaining the advantage following the first set, Murray was pushed by Tsonga in the second. Trailing 4-2, Murray reeled off three consecutive games to swing momentum back in his favor. He took two of the final three games.
Murray, along with all of the other competitors on Monday, was impacted by the heat in New York.
"Extremely tough conditions. Very humid. The first two sets were very long and mentally quite draining," he said on court following his win. "Jo obviously serves huge. Thankfully he missed a few."
Tsonga began the third set by breaking Murray and holding in the second before Murray found his groove again. Murray won four of the next five games to hold a 4-3 advantage. During that run (the lone game he lost), Murray returned arguably the shot of the tournament. See for yourself.
Look no further than this stat to see the story of the match, easily one of the best of the tournament so far. Tsonga committed 43 unforced errors to Murray's 18, putting him in an insurmountable hole. Many of his shots extended beyond the baselline, a result of his aggressive returns.
Murray contrasted Tsonga's powerful style with dozens of deft drop shots that kept him off balance. In total, Murray took 28-of-31 points at the net, and found a graceful touch that could challenge Djokovic in the next round.
No. 3 Wawrinka dispatches No. 16 Robredo
It was long, grueling, tense and entertaining but the favorite, Stan Wawrinka, sealed his spot in the quarterfinals on Monday evening at Louis Armstrong Stadium, beating Tommy Robredo with power and placement. The two traded verbal jabs ahead of the fourth and final set -- it was unclear what they were arguing over -- but Wawrinka carried that momentum with him, winning 7-5, 4-6, 7-6, 6-2.
After trading opening sets, the third set went the distance. Robredo, whose 19 winners paled in comparison to Wawrinka's 75 (!!), had two set points on the tie break to stake a massive edge over Wawrinka. He couldn't do it and Wawrinka won the third 7-6 (7). It lasted 65 minutes and only moments later, at the start of the fourth set, the two began jawing.
Robredo, defeated from the previous set and possibly disarmed from their verbal battle, fought for a mere 29 minutes in the final set before dropping to the No. 3 seed. Their postgame handshake could best be described as icy, and Wawrinka moves on to face the winner of No. 10 Kei Nishikori and No. 5 Milos Raonic.
No. 11 Pennetta advances to quarters
Flavia Pennetta is on a quest to reach her second consecutive US open semifinal, and she got one step closer Monday as she beat No. 29 seeded Casey Dellacqua 7-5, 6-2.
It wasn't easy, however, as Pennetta and Dellacqua traded games in the first set, and Dellacqua even led 5-4 at one point in the first set. But Pennetta settled down and asserted her dominance, taking nine of the final 11 games en route to victory.
Dellacqua, who was playing in her fourth career major championship fourth round, was undone by unforced errors, committing 35 to Pennetta's 18.
Pannetta's road to her second career Grand Slam semifinal certainly doesn't get any easier, as she has a date with No. 1 seed Serena Williams in the next round.