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HomesportAlcaraz reached the quarter-finals of the US Open with the exits of...

Alcaraz reached the quarter-finals of the US Open with the exits of Pegula and Jabeur

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Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz reacts after booking his place in the quarter-finals of the US Open with a straight sets win over Matteo Arnaldi (Ed Jones)

Carlos Alcaraz advanced to the quarter-finals of the US Open on Monday as surprises dominated the women’s draw with Ons Jabeur and Jessica Pegula becoming the latest highly-ranked players to exit the tournament.

Defending champions Alcaraz, who dropped just one set on their trip to the quarter-finals, produced a dominant display to overwhelm Italy’s world number 61 Matteo Arnaldi, winning 6-3 6-3 6-4 in 1 hour 57 minutes.

The 20-year-old Alcaraz is bidding to become the first man since Roger Federer in 2008 to successfully defend the US Open after winning the title for the first time last year.

The Spaniard’s quarter-final opponent will be confirmed later on Monday, with Alcaraz set to face either German Alexander Zverev or Italian sixth seed Yannick Sinner in the quarter-finals on Wednesday.

The match with Sinner will be a repeat of last year’s quarter-final classic between the two men, which set a record for the shortest-ever finish to a US Open match after concluding at 2.50am.

“I think the strength from the start until the last ball, I played a really strong game, fewer mistakes,” Alcaraz said after Monday’s quick win.

“I am really happy with the performance overall.”

In other men’s matches, Russian Andrei Rublev, the eighth seed, qualified on Monday by defeating Britain’s Jack Draper 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Rublev will face the winner of Monday’s match between Russian third seed Daniil Medvedev, the 2021 champion, or Australian Alex de Minor, seed 13.

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– Pegula sunk by friendly fire –

In the women’s draw, more seeds fell a day after world number one and defending champion Ija Swatic was knocked out in the fourth round.

American third seed Jessica Pegula was beaten in straight sets by compatriot and close friend Madison Keys, while fifth seed Jabeur of Tunisia – who lost in last year’s final – was eliminated 6-2 6-4 by China’s Cheng Kenwen.

Pegula entered the US Open dreaming of her first-ever Grand Slam, buoyed by a win at the Canadian Open WTA 1000 last month.

But the 29-year-old’s campaign came to an abrupt halt in front of a packed Arthur Ashe Arena as 2017 US Open finalist Keys recorded a dominant 6-1 6-3 victory in just 61 minutes.

Pegula was not left unanswered as Keys shot a string of 21 winners to her six.

Keys punished her friend’s shaky serve, breaking her five times en route to a comfortable win.

“It’s always hard to play a friend but we’ve been doing it our whole lives at this point,” Keys, 28, said.

“When we get on the pitch it’s all business, and when we get off the pitch we’re back to being friends.”

Keys, seeded 17th, will now face Czech Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova in the quarter-finals on Wednesday.

Vondrousova, the ninth seed, booked her place in the quarter-finals by defeating unseeded American Peyton Stearns, after coming from a set down to win 6-7 (3/7), 6-3, 6-2.

Vondrousova made history in July by becoming the first unseeded woman to win Wimbledon, her first Grand Slam title.

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The 24-year-old never got past the fourth round at the US Open and admitted after her victory on Monday that she surprised herself by making it to the quarter-finals.

“I’m so happy,” said Vondrousova. “I actually didn’t expect it after Wimpy, there was a lot of pressure. We’ll see what happens next.”

Meanwhile, Jabeur, who has been suffering from the flu since her arrival in New York, finally saw her luck run out after clawing her way to three-set wins in her previous two matches.

The Tunisian had no answer to 23rd seed Zeng’s combination of power and precision, as the 20-year-old from Xi’an looked much sharper than her weary opponent.

“At the moment I am very happy and excited to play on a big court. I did really well today,” Cheng said.

Cheng is the first Chinese to reach the quarter-finals of the US Open since Wang Qiang in 2019. Two-time major champion Li Na reached the semi-finals in New York in 2013, and Peng Shuai did the same a year later.

Zheng will face either second seed Aryna Sabalenka – who is set to become the women’s world number one after Swiatek’s death on Sunday – or Russia’s Daria Kasatkina in the quarter-finals. Sabalenka and Kasatkina play a night match later on Monday.

RCW/MW

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