Friday’s Match Recap

Aug 19, 2023

Singles quarterfinals day saw the favored singles players pull through, while the quarterfinals and semifinals in doubles provided surprises.

Men’s top seed Carlos Alcaraz was pushed to a third set for the third consecutive match but made another escape. This time it was qualifier Max Purcell playing in his first ATP Masters 1000 quarterfinal who pushed the world No. 1 to a decider. After the match Alcaraz said it’s time for him to get motivated with Rocky and “Eye of the Tiger.”

Marketa Vondrousova, the women’s No. 10 seed, served for the first set at both 5-4 and 6-5 against top seed Iga Swiatek but couldn’t close it out. Swiatek took control in the tiebreak to win the first set and dropped just one game after that to reach her first Western & Southern Open semifinal.

She’ll face the last American left in singles No. 7 Coco Gauff, who has yet to drop a set enroute to her first semifinal in Cincinnati. After trailing 0-2 in both sets, she downed qualifier Jasmine Paolini 6-3, 6-2.

Men’s No. 16 seed Alexander Zverev played like he had somewhere to go in a quick 6-3, 6-2 win over unseeded Adrian Mannarino to reach the semifinals. Where he went was back on the court for his doubles quarterfinal with partner Marcelo Melo. However, they fell to second seeds and reigning French Open winners Ivan Dodig and Austin Krajicek. Dodig is a two-time doubles champion here, once with Melo. Zverev was the only player in either draw to make the quarterfinals of both singles and doubles. Now the past singles champion will face two-time champion Novak Djokovic in the singles semifinals.

Second seed Aryna Sabalenka advanced to her third Western & Southern Open semifinal with a revenge win over No. 5 Ons Jabeur who had beaten her in the Wimbledon semifinals last month. Sabalenka hit a winner to take the first set, but trailed 2-3 in the second when Jabeur took a medical timeout for treatment on her ankle. She continued the match but did not win another game as Sabalenka won 7-5, 6-3.

Sabalenka will be looking for another revenge win when she faces unseeded Karolina Muchova in the semifinals. Muchova saved a match point against Sabalenka to advance to the French Open final in May. On Friday, Muchova faced Czech countrywoman Marie Bouzkova who retired after just three games due to a thigh injury. Muchova will be the third Czech woman to ever reach the semifinals here, joining Petra Kvitova and Karolina Pliskova who each did it three times.

Men’s second seed Djokovic overwhelmed No. 9 Taylor Fritz 6-0, 6-4 in one hour to reach his ninth Western & Southern Open semifinal. Fritz got on the board early in the second set taking a 2-0 lead, but Djokovic broke back for 4-4 and again at 5-4 to end Fritz’s run.

In doubles, the all-American women’s team of Alycia Parks and Taylor Townsend have beaten three seeded teams to reach their first WTA Tour final together. On Friday they downed the fourth seeds before returning to delight the Porsche Court crowd by defeating the second-seeded team. In Saturday night’s final they face last year’s runners-up, the third-seeded team of American Nicole Melichar-Martinez and Australian Ellen Perez. They defeated the seventh seeds Hao-Ching Chang and Giuliana Olmos in the semifinals. Earlier in the day, Chang and Olmos pulled off a massive upset over world Nos. 1 and 2 doubles players Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Sinakova, winner of seven Grand Slam titles and an Olympic gold medal together.

A packed Stadium 3 crowd saw a fantastic doubles match between wild card all-American team of Christopher Eubanks and Ben Shelton take on sixth seeds Santiago Gonzalez and Edouard Roger-Vasselin. While the crowd was pulling for the Americans they appreciated the win by Gonzalez and Roger-Vasselin in a thrilling match tiebreak 11-9. Roger-Vasselin has quite a history here – he claimed the doubles title in 2015, 35 years after his father Christophe reached the singles quarterfinals.