Ash Barty has followed compatriots Alexei Popyrin and Ajla Tomljanović out of the US Open in the third round, with upsets rife at Flushing Meadows on days five and six.
Top seeds Naomi Osaka  and Stefanos Tsitsipas  fell victim to teenage sensations, while seven men’s third round matches extended to five set epics, including American Frances Tiafoe who upset Andrey Rublev .
Popyrin’s terrific tournament ends
Popyrin’s sparkling US Open run nearly extended to a maiden fourth round appearance, but it wasn’t to be against determined Brit Dan Evans .
The 22-year-old has enjoyed the best form of his career this season, and came into the third round brimming with confidence. His serve has been huge and increasingly aggressive stroke play was helping him shorten points.
It was a clash of styles in the third round, with Evans a player who enjoys extending rallies and grinding out wins.
Popyrin burst out of the gates in the first two sets to take a commanding lead. He won the final four games of the first set, forcing Evans from one side of the court to another, masterfully dictating terms.
He maintained the pressure early in the second set to take a 4-1 games lead, and served out the set to lead 2-0.
From there, Evans made his move. Rallies began to extend as Popyrin lost some of his power, and double faults crept into his game. In his third service game of the set, the world number 73 finally faltered on his serve. Evans ground out the break from deuce, and held his serve to convert the break into a set.
In the fourth set the Brit was able to break Popyrin three times to even up the sets, and eventually take out the victory as the match went all the way to a fifth set tiebreak.
It was a classic Dan Evans match, who will now face Daniil Medvedev  in the fourth round.
|Dan Evans ||4||3||6||6||7|
Tomljanović falls in huge task
Both Tomljanović and Plíšková entered the third round as two of the most in-form women on the tour. Both were coming off career-best runs at Wimbledon, and the finalist was able to prevail in straight sets over the Aussie.
The big-serving Plíšková had also been a finalist in Montreal in the US Open’s lead-in, and reigned down 20 aces in the third round match-up. She got off to a red-hot start, holding her serve without any fuss and capitalising on a poor service game halfway through the first set to gain the ascendency.
She won a staggering 89 per cent of her first-serve points, with Tomljanović unable to return the pace that Plíšková was generating.
Again in the second set, her service games were earned with relative ease, while the Aussie couldn’t find a way past the former world number one. Plíšková rattled off the final five games of the match to win through to the fourth round and set herself up for a clash with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
2021 still remains Tomljanović’s best finish at the US Open in her career, and she will carry new-found confidence in her game from her excellent performances at Grand Slams all year.
|Karolina Plíšková ||6||6|
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Barty Party ends with heartbreak
Ash Barty’s search for a maiden US Open title is over, with the first seed falling to American Shelby Rogers in one of the matches of the tournament so far.
In a three set epic, a raucous home crowd advantage helped Rogers to overcome a disappointing second set to triumph in a match that went the distance.
Barty struggled out of the blocks early on Arthur Ashe Stadium, losing her second service game after a series of deuce points.
Her serve looked shaky, and Rogers was ready to pounce on it with expansive play. She took the play right up to the Aussie, eventually breaking again to lead 5-2 and serving the first set out clinically.
A different Barty came out in the second set – the one that had won Wimbledon and Cincinnati in the lead-up.
Staying on serve through the first three games, she made her move with precise ball-hitting. Her slice began to play a part as Rogers tired a little, struggling to generate power from the baseline.
Barty rattled off five straight games to close the set out 6-1, and she looked in the box seat to close the match out in the decider.
The third set was looking a formality. Barty broke early, was able to serve out her games and was in control at 4-2. She then broke Rogers to love to take a commanding 5-2 lead, needing to serve out the match to progress to the fourth round.
But Rogers wasn’t ready to throw in the towel.
Some of the best tennis seen at Flushing Meadows was on display, with a capacity crowd bearing witness to their American taking it right up to the world number one.
She broke back straight away with aggressive hitting a touch of fortune, before holding her serve to make it 4-5 and forcing Barty to think about her next service game.
That game was an absolute cracker, with extended rallies and frustrating errors from both women seeing Rogers gain a break point that Barty was able to save. The relief wouldn’t last long, however, with Rogers again gritting her teeth to take advantage and finish the deal.
At 5-5, both women held their nerve to serve out games, sending the thriller to a deciding tiebreaker that produced fireworks.
Barty and Rogers wouldn’t give an inch, holding their serves all the way through to 5-5 of the tiebreaker. From there, the only break of the final game came with Rogers taking it from Barty and giving herself the opportunity to serve for the match.
She made no mistake, and produced one of the unlikeliest victories of the tournament so far in a gruelling two hours and eight minutes on court.
From 5-2 down in the final set, she was able to muster the energy to peg it all the way back, and make it count when she was given the opportunity.
In her post-match press conference, Rogers was all class in her admiration for Barty and how the Aussie conducts herself in wins and losses.
The loss ends a fantastic Grand Slam campaign from Barty, who walks away with a maiden Wimbledon championship and another four trophies from a glorious 2021 season.
Rogers will face rising star Emma Raducanu in the next round of the US Open.
|Ash Barty ||2||6||6|
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