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US Open Day 3 recap: Upsets, comebacks and Kit Kats

It was not a particularly newsworthy day on the men’s side — other than Novak Djokovic losing a tiebreaker. With the women, though, craziness ensued.

Caroline Garcia thumbs up Caroline Garcia thumbs up

Karolina Pliskova, the No 1 seed on the women’s side at the US Open, is out. So, too, is Kristina Mladenovic — even though she led 6-1, 5-1. Yes, Caroline Garcia picked up an improbable win at Pliskova’s expense and Varvara Gracheva snatched victory from the jaws of defeat against Mladenovic. On the men’s side, Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev were among the top players who took care of business.

The woman of the day : Osaka statement

Naomi Osaka has been making more statements off the court than on it over the past week. Yes, she reached the final of the Western & Southern Open, but her protest of social injustice made more headlines by sparking a one-day pause at that event. At the US Open, she did not play particularly well in round one but continued to preach her message by wearing a mask with Breonna Taylor’s name on it during her post-match interview.

On Wednesday, though, she also made some serious noise with her tennis racquet. Osaka raised her level considerably and crushed Camila Giorgi 6-1, 6-2 to reach the third round.

This time the Japanese No 4 seed wore a mask with Elijah McClain’s name on it. She says she has seven masks ready, and hopes she needs all seven because it would mean she plays in the final.

The man of the day : Coric goes the distance

There were two five-setters on Wednesday. Mikhail Kuskushkin outlasted No 14 seed Cristian Garin after three hours and 59 minutes, while Borna Coric and Juan Ignacio Londero exceeded the four-hour mark. Coric battled back from two sets to one down to triumph 7-5, 4-6, 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-3 after four hours and 19 minutes.

The 27th-seeded Croat’s reward is an intriguing showdown against fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, who defeated Maxime Cressy in straight sets.

The match of the day : An all-time comeback

Yes, you read that right at the top of this piece. Mladenovic was up 6-1, 5-1 — one game away from a double-breadstick victory. The No 30 seed had four match points, too, but ended up losing to Gracheva 1-6, 7-6(2), 6-0.

Gracheva, the world No 102 from Russia, faced all four of the match points while serving at 2-5 in the second set. She even trailed 0-40 in that game, and yet somehow managed to stay alive. Gracheva advances to meet No 8 seed Petra Martic in the third round.

The big surprise : Down goes No 1

No, Djokovic did not lose at the US Open on Wednesday (he did lose a tiebreaker, however, before beating Kyle Edmund in four sets). It was on the women’s side where the No 1 seed went down in flames. Pliskova lost to Garcia 6-1, 7-6(2) to further deplete a draw that was already without Ash Barty, Simona Halep and 2019 champion Bianca Andreescu.

Garcia will battle a red-hot Jennifer Brady for a spot in the last 16. Brady, the recent Lexington champion and No 28 seed in New York, crushed CiCi Bellis 6-1, 6-2.

The picture of the day : Break him off a piece of that Kit Kat bar

No matter how many Kit Kats Soonwoo Kwon ate on Wednesday night, they were not going to be enough to propel him past Denis Shapovalov. After all, the Canadian, who is groeing in confidence, has now reached at least the third round of the US Open in four consecutive years. He was not going to be denied a fourth such trip. Kwon started fast but ended up falling to Shapovalov 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-4, 6-2.

The good news for the unseeded South Korean is that he covered multiple nutritional food groups during his loss. He at least pretended to mix in some health food with his steady diet of Kit Kats, as a single banana can be seen here:

The quote of the day : Djokovic roars

Djokovic probably did not expect to find himself in a fourth set on Wednesday. After all, straight-set routs are generally the norm for the world No 1 — especially in the early stages of Grand Slams. Nonetheless, a fourth set was in the cards in round two after Kyle Edmund took the first in a tiebreaker. On red alert in the wake of an upset bid by the Briton, Djokovic was eager to avoid a fifth. So when he snagged a crucial break in the fourth, the top seed let out quite a roar.

He was asked about it in his post-match press conference.

Q: Were you shocked a little bit to lose that tiebreaker or not? I can tell you that I was shocked by your big roar, the roar that you made when you made a break in the fourth set. You woke up my wife who was sleeping with this incredible, huge roar.

Djokovic: I’m sorry that I woke your wife up (laughter). I hope she’ll forgive me.

The point of the day : That’s the set

Filip Krajinovic is on fire in the bubble. The Croat made a run to the Cincinnati quarter-finals and came within one point of beating Milos Raonic to reach the semis. He has added two more wins this week after coasting past Marcos Giron 6-4, 6-1, 6-3 on Wednesday afternoon.

The No 26 seed was at his absolute best when he ended the first set against Giron in grand fashion.

Life behind closed doors : That shirtless guy

To say these are unique times at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center would be a gross understatement. There are no fans, no ushers, no concession stands…no nothing, really. Just players and their teams. So in a way, the players can do what they want — as long as they are being safe. What Alexander Zverev wants to do is be shirtless. In between winning matches over Kevin Anderson and Brandon Nakashima, the world No 7 generally spends his time in the bubble just hanging out sans shirt.

He is…The Shirtless Guy.

Thursday match-ups

Second-round action at the US Open wraps up on Thursday, when Andy Murray is back on the court two days after surviving a five-set thriller against Yoshihito Nishioka. Next up for Murray is Felix Auger-Aliassime in a match that is deservedly getting night-session treatment in Arthur Ashe Stadium. Dominic Thiem, Sofia Kenin, and Cincinnati champion Victoria Azarenka are also part of the schedule. The following are some of the most intriguing Day 4 match-ups (and full order of play here):

Men’s: Felix Auger-Aliassime vs. Andy Murray
Men’s: Grigor Dimitrov vs. Marton Fucsovics
Men’s: Dominic Thiem vs. Sumit Nagal
Men’s: Milos Raonic vs. Vasek Pospisil
Women’s: Aryna Sabalenka vs. Victoria Azarenka
Women’s: Johanna Konta vs. Sorana Cirstea
Women’s: Garbine Muguruza vs. Tsvetana Pironkova
Women’s: Sofia Kenin vs. Leylah Fernandez

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