• 45°

Roger Federer’s ‘unreal’ shot at US Open; 10 of top 13 women out

US Open tennis getting interesting

Maria Sharapova, of Russia, returns a shot to Jelena Ostapenko, of Latvia, during the third round of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

NEW YORK (AP) — The most pivotal part of Roger Federer’s U.S. Open victory over Nick Kyrgios, both men agreed, came all of 17 minutes in, when the 20-time major champion was serving at 3-all, love-40 and got out of the jam.

The most spectacular part? That came, anyone who saw it surely would agree, much later. It was the on-a-full-sprint, drop-shot-retrieving, flick-from-a-few-inches-off-the-ground, forehand-around-the-net-post, jaw-dropping winner that Federer conjured up a few games from the conclusion of the 6-4, 6-1, 7-5 tour de force in the third round Saturday.

“Almost unreal,” said Kyrgios, who admired the bit of racket wizardry with eyes wide open and mouth agape.

“A special one, no doubt about it,” declared Federer, who put it up there among his greatest hits, which, considering who we’re talking about, is certainly saying something.

There’s no rule mandating that the ball travel over the net for a shot to count, but Federer pointed out that this was not the sort of thing he can try in practice, mainly because there isn’t as much room to run wide of the court as in a big arena like Arthur Ashe Stadium, so “you will be running into a fence.”

Much was made of Kyrgios’ previous match, in which chair umpire Mohamed Lahyani climbed out of his seat to have a chat with the 23-year-old player about whether he was giving his best effort while trailing by a set and a break. Kyrgios went on to win; Lahyani was chastised by the U.S. Tennis Association for breaching “protocol” but allowed to continue officiating at the tournament.

This time, of course, Kyrgios received no sort of counsel during the match other than all the muttering, at various volumes, he directed at himself. He doesn’t have a coach and wondered aloud, during the latest in a long line of news conferences that sound more like therapy sessions, whether he should add one — or perhaps someone who could help with the mental aspect of the game.

Federer alluded to one particularly questionable choice Kyrgios made at 5-all, 40-15 in the final set, when he went for a drop shot that found the net instead of simply hitting a normal forehand into the open court.

“Clearly,” Federer said, “when you play that way and you lose, it’s always, like, you feel like he’s so much to blame. But that’s just how he plays.”

Clearly.

The contrast between Kyrgios’ mindset and Federer’s was not lost on the talented, if temperamental, Australian.

“We’re two very different characters. Just the way he goes about things, I could take a leaf out of his book. The way he behaves on court. His demeanor,” the 30th-seeded Kyrgios said. “I don’t want to change myself too much, but I could definitely take away things he does in certain situations. He’s the ultimate role model to anyone who wants to play.”

The No. 2-seeded Federer moved into the fourth round at Flushing Meadows for the 17th consecutive appearance. He’s won five titles at the U.S Open, although the last arrived a decade ago.

While he keeps on keeping on, there are all sorts of seeds tumbling from both singles draws.

It’s most pronounced in the women’s field, where 10 of the top 13 seeds already are gone as Week 1 comes to an end. No. 4 Angelique Kerber and No. 5 Petra Kvitova — owners of a combined five Grand Slam titles — exited Saturday, both at Louis Armstrong Stadium, the same new arena where No. 1 Simona Halep and No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki were beaten earlier in the tournament.

Over in Ashe at night, Maria Sharapova eliminated No. 10 Jelena Ostapenko 6-3, 6-2 to improve to 23-0 in night matches at the U.S. Open.

No. 6 Caroline Garcia and No. 13 Kiki Bertens also lost, while 2017 runner-up Madison Keys came back to beat Aleksandra Krunic 4-6, 6-1, 6-2.

Two seeded men lost in the afternoon to unseeded opponents: No. 4 Alexander Zverev and No. 17 Lucas Pouille. Zverev still has never made the fourth round in visits to New York after being beaten 6-7 (1), 6-4, 6-1, 6-3 by Philipp Kohlschreiber in an all-German matchup, while Joao Sousa defeated Pouille 7-6 (5), 4-6, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5).

Kohlschreiber now meets 2014 runner-up Kei Nishikori, who got past No. 13 Diego Schwartzman 6-4, 6-4, 5-7, 6-1.

At night, 13-time major champion Novak Djokovic was facing No. 26 Richard Gasquet in Ashe, while 2014 U.S. Open title winner Marin Cilic met Alex de Minaur in Armstrong.

Djokovic could meet Federer in the quarterfinals.

First, though, Federer gets what shapes up as a mismatch against 55th-ranked John Millman, who never before has made it this far at any Grand Slam tournament.

“He’s the best that’s played the game, in my opinion,” said Millman, who practiced with Federer ahead of the grass-court portion of this season. “I’ve got a lot of respect for Roger.”

The outcome of Federer vs. Kyrgios might very well have been decided in the very early going, long before Federer’s “How did he do that?!” trick shot in the third set.

In the match’s seventh game, Federer faced a total of four break points. On the first three, Kyrgios missed a shot. On the fourth, Federer snapped off a forehand winner. The game then continued through five additional deuces and Federer held. Turned out Kyrgios would not muster another break chance.

“He loosened up straightaway after that. He started playing some shots that we all know he can make. All the pressure was off him. He’s an unbelievable front-runner,” Kyrgios said. “When he gets in front, there’s not much you can do.”

___

Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

___

More AP tennis coverage: https://www.apnews.com/tag/apf-Tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Comments

Kannapolis

City of Kannapolis to have bike rodeo Saturday

Crime

Two more charged for operating illegal gambling businesses

Education

A.L. Brown celebrates seniors with signing day

Business

Rebounding, but not recovered: Rowan County tourism begins challenging path toward normalcy

High School

High school baseball: Padgett leads Mustangs; 100th win for West coach Graham

Coronavirus

RSS superintendent, Board of Health discuss strategies for increasing student vaccination rates

Nation/World

Gas stations report shortages as pipeline shutdown drags on

News

Lawyers: Black man didn’t drive into deputies who shot him

Nation/World

Liz Cheney says Trump and GOP backers threaten democracy

Coronavirus

Rowan Health Department clarifies county’s COVID-19 death total is 301

Landis

Landis approves new land development ordinance, zoning map

Landis

Landis approves body camera, stun gun purchase for public safety officers

Crime

One charged, another dead on sheriff’s most wanted list

Crime

No injuries after car shot eight times on Old Concord Road

Education

RSS talks first steps for new federal relief totaling $66 million

China Grove

Gary’s Barbecue staff, customers look back at 50 years

News

Salisbury Lions Club names Person of the Year, Lion of the Year at 78th annual banquet

Education

Student COVID-19 numbers show first decline since plan A

High School

High school golf: Fowler competes in state tournament

News

Amazon announces new distribution center for North Carolina

News

House passes bill to bar Cooper from mandating COVID shot

Coronavirus

Rowan County sees death 302 from COVID-19; Health Department to host final mass vaccine clinic

Ask Us

Ask Us: What happened to work on South Fulton Street home?

Crime

Blotter: Woman says she was shot in hand on Lincolnton Road