US Open: Medvedev advances to fourth round, Muguruza beats Azarenka

AFP/New York
Filed on September 4, 2021 | Last updated on September 4, 2021 at 12.43 am
Daniil Medvedev hits a backhand return against Pablo Andujar. (ATP Twitter)

Romanian 12th seed Simona Halep ousted 19th seed Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan

Russian second seed Daniil Medvedev advanced to the fourth round of the US Open on Friday by defeating Spain's 74th-ranked Pablo Andujar 6-0, 6-4, 6-3.

Medvedev, the 2019 US Open and 2021 Australian Open runner-up, will next face either Australian Alex Popyrin of British 24th seed Daniel Evans.

Spanish ninth seed Garbine Muguruza outlasted 18th seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus on Friday in a showdown of two-time Grand Slam champions and former world number ones.

Muguruza matched her best US Open showing from 2017 by defeating three-time US Open runner-up Azarenka 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 in the only Slam where the Spaniard hasn't reached the final.

"It's a Grand Slam where I've been struggling," Muguruza said. "This year it's working so I want to keep going."

Muguruza broke at love in the ninth game of the first set and held to grab the lead, then won after two hours and 15 minutes as Azarenka double-faulted.

"Playing on this court in front of this crowd against Vika, it's the perfect scenario," Muguruza said. "Playing the whole year without crowd, this is super amazing. I feel pumped."

Romanian 12th seed Simona Halep, a two-time Grand Slam champion battling back after an injury layoff, ousted 19th seed Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan 7-6 (13/11), 4-6, 6-3 after two hours and 25 minutes.

"Definitely it has been a very tough match," Halep said. "I knew she was very powerful. I knew I had to be strong. I knew I had to be calm but I didn't."

Former number one Halep, her right thigh taped after an injury two weeks ago, failed on six set points before Rybakina, who lost four set points herself, double faulted to end a 17-minute tie-breaker and drop the first set after 64 minutes.

Rybakina forced a third set but Halep held firm for the win.

"I just said I have to fight back and I did," said Halep, who says she's 'still far' from peak form.

"Every day I'm building my confidence," she said. "It's not easy to be out for several months and then come back and play the matches.

"I'm focused every day. I know it's going to be a tough battle but I have nothing to lose. It's about enjoying the tennis and the fact I'm healthy and can play again."

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