Though the first real bout of rain this week made for a jam-packed evening session around the Flushing Meadows grounds, Thursday was a fairly chalk-heavy slate of results, so let’s go speed-round on the end of round two:
-In the Ashe night session, Serena Williams was not as sharp as her opening round, dropping a surprising six games to Vania King. However, her draw until the quarters couldn’t be easier and she tied Martina Navratilova’s women’s record of 306 wins at Grand Slams. It was the overall record until Roger Federer got to 307 at Wimbledon this year, which Williams figures to tie and break in the coming days (at least for now, with Federer set to return in 2017).
-Following Serena was the highly anticipated clash between Juan Martin del Potro and Steve Johnson. The battle of serve-forehand combos and slice backhands was dead even after Johnson erased a 5-1 tiebreak deficit. Del Potro ended up with the set though, and after negating an early Johnson break in the second set, del Potro won 11 of the final 13 games for an anti-climatic 7-6 (5), 6-3, 6-2 win, his first night win on Arthur Ashe.
-Kei Nishikori was in an absolute dogfight, struggling to absorb the pace of Russian prospect Karen Khachanov at 6-4, 4-6, 4-4 when the rain hit. Upon return, Nishikori was the better, more consistent player and advanced in four tight sets. Khachanov is both older and lower ranked than a Sascha Zverev or Taylor Fritz, but arguably has just as much potential. With power on both wings as well as the serve, he also isn’t quite as gangly as Zverev and has solid court coverage despite how tall he is (listed 6’6″). The question with guys that size is always if they can stay healthy, as seen with a couple guys Khachanov apparently looks up to: del Potro and Hall of Famer Marat Safin.
Other women’s winners: Simona Halep was consistent enough on an off-day to straight set a very erratic Lucie Safarova. Also through without issue: Venus Williams, Karolina Pliskova, Carla Suarez Navarro (over Jelena Jankovic) and Elena Vesnina. Aga Radwanska saved set points to win a tense tiebreaker over Naomi Broady, advancing 7-6 (9), 6-3. Nastia Pavlyuchenkova edged Kiki Mladenovic in a third set tiebreaker. Timea Bacsinszky was upset in three by Varvara Lepchenko. Sam Stosur was upset by friend and doubles partner Zhang Shuai. 18 year old Ana Konjuh has matched her best Slam result by reaching the third round. Nicole Gibbs saved three match points in a second set comeback from 6-3, 5-1 down, and three more at 5-6, but Laura Siegemund delivered on the seventh, winning 6-3, 7-5.
Other men’s winners: Andy Murray and Dominic Thiem overcame patchy first sets to cruise in straights. Stan Wawrinka saved a set point in set 2 before winning in straights. Nick Kyrgios and Ivo Karlovic also won without issue. Going back to Sascha Zverev, he melted down on a court without replay, repeatedly throwing tantrums at line calls. He was upset in four by Brit Dan Evans. As for another hothead on a court without replay, Fabio Fognini was edged in the last match of the night in a fifth set by David Ferrer. Paulo Lorenzi, 34, reached his first ever Slam third round by outlasting Gilles Simon in a fifth set tiebreak after nearly five hours. Grigor Dimitrov survived in five over Jeremy Chardy. Finally, 19 year old Jared Donaldson backed up his upset of David Goffin by beating Viktor Troicki (who came off a long five-setter) in straight sets. Donaldson gets a big test in Karlovic next.