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US Open day 4 women’s results: Pironkova stuns Muguruza, Azarenka routs Sabalenka

It was an eventful fourth day of the US Open women’s singles draw, as Garbine Muguruza suffered a shock exit and Amanda Anisimova celebrated an emotional win.

Victoria Azarenka, Western & Southern Open (New York / Flushing Meadows), 2020 Victoria Azarenka, Western & Southern Open (New York / Flushing Meadows), 2020

The matches that ended as we anticipated

Can Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin make it two majors on the trot and go all the way again? On the basis of her first two matches in Flushing Meadows, it seems a possibility, especially with top seed Karolina Pliskova out of the way and Serena Williams seemingly struggling for form, fitness and confidence. A 6-4, 6-3 defeat of Leylah Fernandez means she will now play Ons Jabeur for a place in the fourth round.

It wasn’t an easy ride for Jabeur herself, but the Tunisian found it easier going after battling through a first-set breaker (10-8) to ease to victory over Kaia Kanepi 7-6, 6-0.

Donna Vekic has always seemed to be one of those players who flatters to deceive. She has all the shots, and when on a roll, seems unstoppable. There were certainly encouraging signs in New York on Thursday, as the 18th-seeded Croat wasted no time at all in beating Patricia Tig 6-2, 6-1 in just an hour and 16 minutes.

Even at this early stage of the opening week of a Grand Slam tournament, it appears that the favourites for the title may come from America. And there was no trouble for 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens, who easily despatched Belarussian Olga Govortsova 6-2, 6-2, moments before No 7 seed Madison Keys went one better, breezing past Aliona Bolsoza 6-2, 6-1.

Next up for Stephens is No 3 Serena Williams, who had no trouble with Margarita Gasparyan during a 6-2, 6-4 victory.

No 20 Karolina Muchova, who knocked off Venus Williams in round one, is moving on again after defeating Anna Kalinskaya 6-3, 7-6(4).

The surprises of the day

Perhaps it wasn’t so much of a surprise, given the two-time major champion’s dismal record in New York. But to see Garbine Muguruza capitulate to Tsvetana Pironkova in straight sets was a shock to the system indeed – especially considering that the Bulgarian had quit the tour to focus on raising her first child Alexander, as well as launching her own fitness label.

But perhaps missing the tennis bug, and inspired by the likes of fellow mothers Serena Williams and Kim Clijsters, the former Wimbledon semi-finalist seems to have a new lease of life. How far can she go?

Britain’s Johanna Konta seems to be gaining an unwanted reputation as one of the nearly women of tennis, and it was another one of those nearly days. Having dominated the opening set against Romanian Sorana Cirstea, the ninth seed lost a tight second set tie-break before losing 6-2, 6-7, 4-6.

Although it was not a big upset, the scoreline between Belarusians Victoria Azarenka and No 5 seed Aryna Sabalenka was alarming. Azarenka, last week’s Cincinnati champion, dominated 6-1, 6-3 in just one hour and seven minutes.

The hard-fought battles of the day

It’s getting to that kind of stage in the tournament, late in the opening week, where seeds outside the top ten can appear vulnerable and underdogs seek a big opportunity to make a name for themselves.

And it was Katrina Scott who sought to make a name for herself in an all-American battle on Louis Armstrong Stadium, grabbing the first set against 22nd seed Amanda Anisimova, before going down 6-4, 4-6, 1-6. It was an emotional moment for Anisimova, who withdrew from last year’s US after the passing of her father.

15th seed Maria Sakkari looked in all sorts of trouble early on, surrendering the opening set 2-6 to home player Bernarda Pera. It seemed to shock the talented Greek into life, and she regrouped to run out a 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 winner.

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