Defending champion Novak Djokovic reached the US Open last 16 in just 32 minutes on Friday when Russian opponent Mikhail Youzhny retired at 2-4 down in the first set.
The 34-year-old Youzhny had needed treatment on a left leg injury after five games and called it quits just a game later.
World number one Djokovic had reached the third round on a walkover when Jiri Vesely withdrew from their second round clash.
The top seed had needed four sets to beat Jerzy Janowicz in the first round on Monday.
KEYS LEAVE IT LATE
Madison Keys mounted an epic final set comeback to keep her title dreams alive.
The eighth-seeded American won the latest-ever finishing women’s match at the tournament on Monday when she completed victory over compatriot Alison Riske at 1:48am.
On Friday, the 21-year-old was involved in more drama when she rallied from 1-5 down in the final set to defeat Japan’s Naomi Osaka 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (7/3).
The 18-year-old Osaka was reduced to tears as she twice served for the match but choked under the immense pressure.
“This is the greatest comeback of my career, hands down,” said Keys who will face two-time runner-up Caroline Wozniacki for a quarter-final spot.
PUT A SOCK IN IT
Jack Sock sent 2014 champion Marin Cilic crashing out in spectacular style, blowing the Croatian off the court.
Sock, the 26th seed, reached the fourth round for the first time by knocking out a cramping seventh seed Cilic, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 in tie where he did not face a single break point.
The 23-year-old, whose last two appearances at the US Open had ended in retirements, goes on to face French ninth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (who got past Kevin Anderson in four sets).
Sock had defeated Cilic from two sets down in America’s losing effort in the quarter-finals of the Davis Cup.
SERENA RULES OVER KING
World number one Serena Williams defeated fellow American Vania King 6-3, 6-3, her 306th Grand Slam singles match win tying her with Martina Navratilova for the most ever for a woman.
This one’s kind of cool,” she said of her latest milestone, “to win 306.”
There could be more history in store for Williams as she seeks a seventh US Open title and a 23rd Grand Slam singles crown, both of which would be Open Era records.
She fired 13 aces, with a total of 38 winners against 87th-ranked wild card King, and said the troublesome right shoulder that has hindered her since Wimbledon wasn’t a problem.
“So far, so good,” said Williams, who was cheered on by rap mogul Jay Z and his pop superstar wife Beyonce as she booked a meeting with 47th-ranked Swede Johanna Larsson for a place in the last 16.
Despite wrapping up the victory in just 65 minutes, Williams said there was plenty of room for improvement.
“I feel like I made a lot of errors,” Williams said. “What really matters is I got the win. Hopefully I’ll just get better.”
Serena Williams wins 306th Grand Slam match, tying Martina Navratilova for most Grand Slam wins in women’s history. pic.twitter.com/GXyDlCNvXY— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 2, 2016
MURRAY DROWNS OUT MARCEL CHALLENGE
By the time Williams opened the night session the rain that prompted organizers to close the new roof on Arthur Ashe stadium had tailed off.
Murray had played with it drumming on the roof, adding to the noise the US Open is famous for.
“You can’t hear anything, really,” said Murray, who downed tenacious Spaniard Marcel Granollers 6-4, 6-1, 6-4.
“I mean, you could hear the line calls, but not so much when he was hitting the ball or even when you’re hitting the ball, really, which is tough.”
Nevertheless, after needing seven set points to seal the first frame, Murray broke Granollers twice in the second set and once in the third to move through to a meeting with Italian Paolo Lorenzi, a 3-6, 6-2, 6-2, 6-7 (1/7), 7-6 (7/3) winner over France’s Gilles Simon.
DEL POTRO CONTINUES RESURGENCE
Juan Martin del Potro, who has undergone four wrist surgeries since lifting the US Open trophy in 2009, closed out the action on Ashe with a 7-6 (7/5), 6-3, 6-2 victory over 19th seeded American Steve Johnson.
Del Potro, ranked 142nd in the world as he battles back from the injuries that nearly cost him his career, is back in the Open as a wildcard after a sparkling run to a silver medal in the Rio Olympics.
Which matches are you most looking forward to seeing on day five and who do you think will progress to the fourth round from our picks?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC (SRB) vs MIKHAIL YOUZHNY (RUS)
DJOKOVIC vs YOUZHNY
Youzhny has been battling to get back among the tennis elite but unfortunately comes up against the world number one in round three.
Djokovic sailed through the previous round but did have a bit of a hiccup against against Jerzy Janowicz in his opening match.
A decent contest is foreseeable given Djokovic’s struggles against Youzhny, leading the head-to-head 6-3.
SPORT360 VERDICT: Djokovic in three.
MADISON KEYS (USA) vs NAOMI OSAKA (JPN)
Osaka beat Coco Vandeweghe in her opener and will eager to pull off another upset. The 18 year-old is a good counter-puncher and while that’s a great asset to have against Keys, it may not be enough.
The American won’t have it all her own way but should show her class and overpower the Japanese in due course.
SPORT360 VERDICT: Keys in three.
RAFAEL NADAL (ESP) vs ANDRIY KUZNETSOV (RUS)
NADAL (ESP) vs KUZNETSOV (RUS)
Nadal got through the first two rounds in straight sets while Kuznetsov is coming off a straight sets win over Albert Ramos-Vinolas as well.
The Spaniard has had a few concerns over his wrist but hasn’t been made to stretch himself so far and should be fine. He won all three of his previous meetings with the Russian, two in straight sets.
SPORT360 VERDICT: Nadal in straight sets.
ANGELIQUE KERBER (GER) vs CATHRINE BELLIS (USA)
At just 17, Bellis faces a mammoth task as she takes on the world number two. It was only two years ago that the American sent shockwaves through the tournament having beaten Dominika Cibulkova as a 15 year-old.
Kerber however appears to be playing like she owns the court and anything other than a victory for the German seems ludicrous.
SPORT360 VERDICT: Kerber in straight sets.
MARIN CILIC (CRO) vs JACK SOCK (USA)
CILIC (CRO) vs SOCK (USA)
In their only previous meeting, Sock came from behind in the Davis Cup two months to win 6-4 in the fifth set.
However, Cilic has been in great form since and should come out on top despite Sock’s home court advantage.
SPORT360 VERDICT: Cilic in five.