NEW YORK (Reuters) - Persistence finally paid off for Kevin Anderson as the towering South African prevailed in a slugfest with Andy Murray to reach the quarter-finals of the U.S. Open on Monday while another tennis giant John Isner was slain by Roger Federer.
Two David v Goliath matchups, however, ended all too predictably as 97th ranked British qualifier Johanna Konta saw her Flushing Meadows joy ride ended 7-5 6-3 by fifth seeded Czech Petra Kvitova and 68th ranked American Donald Young ran out of comeback magic in a 6-4 1-6 6-3 6-4 loss to fifth seed Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland.
Tomas Berdych’s time in Flushing Meadows also came to an end with the sixth seeded Czech falling 2-6 6-3 6-4 6-1 to 12th seeded Frenchman Richard Gasquet.
Seven times before the six-foot, eight-inch (2.03m) Anderson had progressed to the fourth round of a grand slam but never beyond until his 7-6(5) 6-3 6-7(2) 7-6(0) victory over third seeded Scot Murray.
Murray had battled his way back from two sets down in the second round against France’s Adrian Mannarino, but could not work another miracle against the 14th-ranked, 29-year-old, who swept the final tiebreak 7-0.
“That’s obviously something that is disappointing to lose,” said Murray after watching his run of reaching 18 consecutive grand slam quarter-finals come to an end. “That’s many years’ work that’s gone into building that sort of consistency.
“Also to lose a match like that, that was over four hours, tough obviously after a couple of tough matches earlier in the tournament, as well. It’s a hard one to lose, for sure.”
Second seed Federer also came face-to-face with one of the ATP Tour’s biggest hitters and coolly defused six-foot, 10-inch (2.08m) Isner’s booming serve to claim a 7-6(0) 7-6(6) 7-5 victory.
Federer held his own from the service line to thwart Isner, never losing his serve, and used his returning skills to derail a pair of long streaks enjoyed by the American.
The 34-year-old Federer closed out the two hour, 39 minute fourth-round match by breaking Isner’s serve, ending the American’s string of 108 consecutive service holds at the U.S. Open.
His perfect scoreline in the opening set tiebreak snapped an even longer Isner streak.
In 429 tiebreakers played by Isner, he had never dropped one 7-0.
“Seven-love obviously is a pretty good score against John,” said Federer.
Second seed Simona Halep overcame a thigh injury, baking heat and finally big-hitting German Sabine Lisicki to also reach the U.S. Open quarters for the first time.
It was Labor Day in the United States but it was certainly no holiday for Halep who had to work for her spot in the last eight, needing two hours and 38 minutes under a broiling sun to dispatch Lisicki 6-7(6) 7-5 6-2 and reach the U.S. Open quarter-finals for the first time.
Waiting for the Romanian in the last eight is two-time U.S. Open finalist Victoria Azarenka, who advanced with a comfortable 6-3 6-4 win over American Varvara Lepchenko.
After a couple of days of relief, the heat returned to Flushing Meadows turning the fourth round clash between Halep and Lisicki into a test of survival.
After dropping the opening set Halep called out the trainer to have treatment on her left thigh and at the end of the second the players left the court when the heat rule came into effect, but through it all the exhausted Romanian was able to gut out a victory.
Her left leg heavily strapped, a wounded Halep sensed her opportunity when Lisicki began to cramp in the third set and stretch between every point.
Halep, who converted 10 of 11 break chances, claimed the most crucial one to go ahead 4-2 and then held serve to break her 24th seeded opponent again and clinch a spot in the last eight.
Italy’s Flavia Pennetta returned to the quarter-finals for the fourth consecutive year easing past 2011 U.S. Open winner Samantha Stosur of Australia 6-4 6-4.
Editing by Andrew Both/Amlan Chakraborty