By Bill Dwyre Los Angeles Times
NEW YORK — Serena Williams reached her first Grand Slam quarterfinal of the year and Novak Djokovic reached his 22nd in a row with victories in the fourth round of the U.S. Open on Monday.
Williams defeated Kaia Kanepi of Estonia, 6-3, 6-3, to keep her hopes alive for a third straight Flushing Meadows crown. The top-seeded Djokovic reached his eighth consecutive Open quarterfinal by breezing past 22nd-seeded Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany, 6-1, 7-5, 6-4.
The top-seeded Williams, who lost in the fourth round of the Australian Open, the second round of the French Open and the third round at Wimbledon, said she felt the pressure of getting to the quarters in New York.
“I finally made a quarterfinal this year!” Williams said in her on-court interview, raising her hands to the cheers of the crowd in Arthur Ashe Stadium. “I think I felt it in my service game. I’m like, ‘Can I please make it to a Grand Slam quarters this year?’ So glad to do it in New York.”
That drive to do it this year was bad news for the 50th-ranked Kanepi. Williams won 12 straight points on her serve to start the match, a streak that included five of her eight aces.
Williams next plays 11th-seeded Flavia Pennetta, a 7-5, 6-2 winner over 29th-seeded Casey Dellacqua.
Pennetta, who reached the semifinals of the U.S. Open last year, said she needed to do her best with the tools she has to have a chance against the No. 1-ranked Williams, who holds 17 Grand Slam titles.
“You cannot invent something. I mean, you just have to play your tennis,” Pennetta said. “Of course, she’s better than me, but if I still believe I can beat her, maybe if she doesn’t have a good day, I can do that.”
The last time Djokovic was eliminated before the quarterfinals at a major was a third-round loss to Kohlschreiber at the 2009 French Open.
Next up for the Serb, who reached the U.S. Open final each of the last four years, will be a match against 2012 U.S. Open champion Andy Murray, who swept past ninth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, 7-5, 7-5, 6-4.
Unlike the men’s side, which entered Monday with only one major upset, No. 4 David Ferrer, the women’s draw has been decimated. Among the top 10 seeds, only Williams, No. 7 Eugenie Bouchard and No. 10 Caroline Wozniacki made it into the tournament’s second week, and Bouchard lost Monday, to 17th-seeded Ekaterina Makarova in the fourth round.
Victoria Azarenka, the No. 16 seed and a loser to Williams in the last two U.S. Open finals, earned a place in the quarterfinals with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory over 145th-ranked qualifier Aleksandra Krunic in a night match.
Earlier Monday, the No. 1 doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan rolled on in their quest for a 100th career title with a 6-3, 7-6 (5) victory over U.S. countrymen Bradley Klahn and Tim Smyczek. The Bryans, who have won a record 15 Grand Slam tournament titles, have yet to drop a set on their road to the quarterfinals.
And the darling of this Open, 15-year-old CiCi Bellis, opened her pursuit of the junior girls’ crown with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Mexico’s Renata Zarazua. Bellis last week became the youngest player in 18 years to win a match in the main draw at the U.S. Open.