NEW YORK — The previous two women’s champions were already eliminated from the US Open and now the 2021 runner-up and another semifinalist are gone.
Top players fall quickly at Flushing Meadows, and Serena Williams handled another on Wednesday night.
Hours before Williams defeated No. 2 seed Anett Kontaveit, third seed Maria Sakkari was edged out in the second round by Wang Xiyu of China 3-6 7-5 7-5.
Then, minutes after Williams’ win, No. 14 Leylah Fernandez was defeated by Liudmila Samsonova 6-3, 7-6 (3), a year after the Canadian lost to Emma Raducanu in the final.
Fernandez only recently returned to the game after missing much of the summer with a stress fracture in her right foot. She would have played Williams if they both reached the fourth round, but she knew it was going to be difficult as she estimated her game at only about 30%.
“It’s hard to get to the highest level, but it’s so easy to come down and that’s what’s happening right now,” Fernandez said.
It’s not just happening to her.
Raducanu and two-time winner Naomi Osaka were eliminated in the first round on Tuesday night. That left Bianca Andreescu, who defeated Williams in the 2019 final, as the youngest US Open women’s winner still in the field.
Andreescu met number 15 Beatriz Haddad Maia on Wednesday evening.
Reaching two Grand Slam semifinals last year, Sakkari has struggled to underpin her success in 2022 and this week acknowledged she was struggling to cope with a higher profile associated with her rise to No. 3 in the rankings accompanied. She said that some days she didn’t like tennis and didn’t even want to get out of bed.
The Greek said she was happier to get into this tournament but her game just wasn’t good enough against 75th-ranked Wang, who made it through the second round of a Major for the first time.
“It’s disappointing, it hurts because I was feeling better, I was enjoying myself, I felt good on the pitch and it was just really disappointing that my level was so low today,” said Sakkari.
Coco Gauff, No. 12, and Madison Keys, who was seeded at No. 20, avoided the trouble and set up a third-round matchup between the Americans. Gauff defeated Elena Gabriela Ruse 6-2, 7-6 (4), while 2017 US Open runner-up Keys overtook Camili Giorgi 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (6).
Gauff was two points away from dropping the second set 5-3 before the 18-year-old recovered, which she says shows an aspect of her game that wasn’t there earlier in the season but the French’s finalists Open could now turn into a threat.
“Today, Down Love-30, 5-3, could have definitely tossed it in the can and set up for the third set. Same at 15-40. But I didn’t,” said Gauff. “I feel like the growth is showing. I feel like in the past, these are games I would have lost. Yes, it is about learning and I think I am learning.”
Three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray bounced back quickly after losing the first set to American Emilio Nava 5-7 6-3 6-1 6-0 to set up a third-round meet with Matteo, number 13, ahead of Berrettini.
Nick Kyrgios, No. 23, defeated France’s Benjamin Bonzi and the smell of marijuana bothered him at Louis Armstrong Stadium. The Wimbledon runner-up already knows the challenge posed by New York noise, but this time it was the smell.
“People don’t know, I’m a severe asthmatic,” Kyrgios said after his 7-6(3), 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 win. “When I walk back and forth, I have trouble breathing. Probably not something I want to breathe in between dots.”
Following her own run to the Wimbledon final, No. 5 Ons Jabeur equaled her best US Open result with a 7-5, 6-2 victory over Elizabeth Mandlik, daughter of 1985 champion Hana Mandlikova. Jabeur lost in the third round in each of her last three trips to New York.
“I have a mission,” Jabeur said. “I’m world No. 5 so for me I’m trying to represent that number as best as I can so I can really improve my game and hopefully continue and improve my ranking.”
She will play against American No. 31 seed Shelby Rogers, who beat Viktoria Kuzmova 7-5, 6-1.
Defending men’s champion Daniil Medvedev followed Williams at Arthur Ashe Stadium. A win over Arthur Rinderknech of France would send him into a third-round matchup against Wu Yibing, the first Chinese to win a US Open match in the professional era that began in 1968.
2021 runner-up Fernandez, No. 3 Sakkari, was ousted at the US Open originally appeared on NBCSports.com