Defending champ Alcaraz overpowers Lloyd Harris to reach 3rd round of U.S. Open

Carlos Alcaraz moved into the third round of the U.S. Open with a 6-3 6-1 7-6(4) win over Lloyd Harris on Thursday in a match that also revealed a lack of sharpness which the Spaniard will need to rectify if he is to successfully defend his crown.

Some dazzling shot making from the world number one had the crowd on its feet but behind the fun-filled evening were some worrying flaws as Alcaraz piled up 29 unforced errors and showed a lack of concentration at key moments.

Even while not at his best Alcaraz could rely on raw talent and a vast repertoire of shots to see off the 177th ranked South African. But the 20-year-old will need to improve with rival Novak Djokovic on the prowl for a 24th Grand Slam and seeking revenge for his Wimbledon loss to the Spaniard.

Under Arthur Ashe Stadium’s bright lights Alcaraz found himself under even greater scrutiny after an unconvincing build-up to the season’s final Grand Slam.

In two tune-up events his results — reaching the Canadian Open quarter-finals and losing to Djokovic in the Cincinnati final — were positive but the performances spotty with seven of eight matches needing three sets to get the job done.

Of the 23 sets played eight required tiebreaks.

There was little to learn from Alcaraz’s opening match on Tuesday against Dominic Koepfer, which was cut short when the German retired with an ankle injury.

Harris is recovering from wrist surgery and has seen his ranking drop but the big-hitting South African is a proven danger man, reaching the quarter-finals in 2021 and having a few top 10 wins on his resume, including one over Rafa Nadal.

The contest got off to a cautious start before Alcaraz began to settle into the match, taking control of the first set with a break to go up 3-2.

From that point on he dialled up the pressure and clinched the set with a second break.

Alcaraz continued to dominate in the second but lost focus in the third, committing 16 of his 29 unforced errors, as Harris threatened to take the contest to a fourth set before losing the tie-break 7-4.

There will be no room for such lapses in third round for Alcaraz with 26th seed Dan Evans of Great Britain waiting in the wings.

Dabrowski, Routliffe win doubles opener

Ottawa’s Gabriela Dabrowski and partner Erin Routliffe of New Zealand advanced to the second round of the U.S. Open women’s doubles tournament with a 4-6, 6-1, 6-0 win over Lauren Davis of the United States and the Czech Republic’s Anastasia Detiuc.

It was a successful Grand Slam debut for Dabrowski and new doubles partner Routliffe, who grew up in Canada and represented the country from 2009-17.

The 16th-seeded pair dominated after dropping the first set, facing just three break points over the second and third sets and saving them all.

Dabrowski and Routliffe broke their opponents three times in the last set while winning 80 per cent of return points before Dabrowski wrapped things up with an ace on match point.

The pair is playing in its fourth tournament after the partnership started at the National Bank Open in Montreal. Dabrowski and Routliffe scored a big win last week in Cleveland when they defeated top seeds Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova in the quarterfinals.

Routliffe and Dabrowski, who has 13 doubles titles and has reached the U.S. Open quarterfinals in five of the last six years, will next face Taiwan’s Fang-Hsien Wu and China’s Lin Zhu.

The sixth-seeded team of Leylah Fernandez of Laval, Que., and American Taylor Townsend were scheduled for a second-round match Friday against the Spanish tandem of Aliona Bolsova and Rebeka Masarova.

Isner heads to retirement

John Isner rested his chin on clasped hands, the words coming slowly, the tears welling in his eyes, as he spoke during a news conference at the U.S. Open on Thursday, his last day as a professional tennis player.

“It’s been a huge part of my life. It’s tough to say goodbye. It’s not easy,” the 38-year-old American said. “But eventually, this day would come. It’s hard to prepare for the emotions of it.”

As career-ending days go, it would be hard to come up with a more appropriate way for Isner to bow out than a pair of final-set tiebreakers — one in singles, one in doubles — and, while he would have preferred a victory or two, of course, he did appreciate the raucous crowd support and standing ovations he was showered with at each defeat.

The six-foot-ten (2.08-metre) Isner announced the week before play began at Flushing Meadows that this Grand Slam tournament would mark his farewell, and the guy who long was his country’s best male player bowed out in the second round of the singles bracket with a 3-6, 4-6, 7-6 (3), 6-4, 7-6 (10-7) loss to another American wild-card entry, Michael Mmoh, at the Grandstand.

A few hours later, Isner headed into full-fledged retirement by dropping a doubles match alongside Jack Sock, another American who has said the U.S. Open will be his last tournament. They were beaten by Robert Galloway and Albano Olivetti 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (10-3) at Court 12.

When Isner put a volley into the net off a dipping passing shot by Mmoh, the two opponents hugged.

Then Isner — who was one point from winning at 5-4 in the fifth set but netted a backhand return — sat on his sideline chair and covered his face with a white towel.

In the day’s final match, which ended after 1 a.m., ET 2021 U.S. Open champion Daniil Medvedev beat Christopher O’Connell 6-2, 6-2, 6-7 (6), 6-2.

Women advancing included Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova, Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka, 2017 U.S. Open runner-up Madison Keys, three-time major semifinalist Elina Svitolina and No. 13 seed Daria Kasatkina.

In late-night action, No. 3 Jessica Pegula of the United States defeated Romania’s Patricia Maria Tig 6-3, 6-1.

Last year’s runner-up Ons Jabeur was made to work hard by Czech teenager Linda Noskova before sealing a thrilling 7-6(7) 4-6 6-3 victory to reach the third round

In other action, Stan Wawrinka, a 38-year-old owner of three major titles including the 2016 U.S. Open, moved into the third round, while Andy Murray, a 36-year-old owner of three major titles including the 2012 U.S. Open, was eliminated.

Wawrinka beat No. 30 seed Tomas Martin Etcheverry 7-6 (6), 6-7 (7), 6-3, 6-2. Murray was knocked out by No. 19 Grigor Dimitrov 6-3, 6-4, 6-1.

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