Halep into US Open last 16, Nadal out

Simona Halep AFP PHOTO

Simona Halep AFP PHOTO

NEW YORK: Romanian second seed Simona Halep reached the US Open last 16 on Saturday with a 6-2, 6-3 win over American qualifier Shelby Rogers.

Halep will face either German 24th seed Sabine Lisicki or Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic for a place in the quarterfinals.

Two-time runner-up Victoria Azarenka, the 20th seed, triumphed over 11th-seeded German Angelique Kerber in an Arthur Ashe Stadium thriller lasting almost three hours.

Azarenka, whose season has been blighted by a left thigh injury, won 7-5, 2-6, 6-4 on a sixth match point having trailed 2-5 in the first set.

The 26-year-old took her record over Kerber to 5-0 on the back of 51 winners to her opponent’s 46 in a merciless contest of big-hitting.

Both players saved a combined 26 break points before the Belarusian prevailed to set-up a last-16 clash with America’s Varvara Lepchenko.

Rafael Nadal headed back to Mal¬lorca on Saturday with his US Open campaign over and his career seemingly at the point of no return.

The great Spanish warrior was once again fending off questions over his future in the sport, just as he had done after quarterfinal exits at the Australian and French Opens and a second-round loss at Wimbledon.

The 29-year-old, 14-time major winner crashed to his earliest exit in New York in 10 years at the hands of an inspired, straight-shooting Fabio Fognini, the 32nd seed, in the early hours of Saturday.

The third round loss also meant that, for the first time since 2004, Nadal would go through a season without at least one Grand Slam title.

In a 2am media conference full of mixed messages, he admitted that he was slower than in his pomp before quickly qualifying that statement with an insistence that he was only joking.

But the facts tell a different story.

Fognini fired 70 winners past Na¬dal in his 3-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 win, his third victory over the Spaniard this year.

Meanwhile, Roger Federer and Andy Murray coasted into the fourth round Saturday as Canadian poster girl Eugenie Bouchard suffered a potentially tournament-ending head injury in a freak fall.

Five-time champion and world number two Federer claimed a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Philipp Kohlschreiber, his 10th win in 10 meetings against the 29th-ranked German.

Murray, seeded three and the New York champion in 2012, brushed aside Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 for his 40th career win at the US Open.

Bouchard was facing a battle to make her scheduled last-16 clash with Italy’s Roberto Vinci on Sunday after injuring her head in a fall in the women’s locker room on Friday.

The 21-year-old Canadian withdrew from the women’s and mixed doubles tournament on medical advice.

Organizers had been due to update her status late Saturday but also scheduled Bouchard to play last on Louis Armstrong Sta¬dium on Sunday to maximize her chances of taking part.



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