I finally made a quarter-final: Serena Williams' year gets better at US Open
Defending champion puts grand slam frustration behind her, while Canadian poster girl Eugenie Bouchard falls victim to heat - and Russian 17th seed Ekaterina Makarova
Five-time champion Serena Williams reached her first grand slam quarter-final of 2014 at the US Open but Canadian poster girl Eugenie Bouchard, struggling in the heat and humidity, was knocked out.
World number one Williams, the two-time defending champion, eased past world number 50 Kaia Kanepi 6-3, 6-3 for a fourth win over the Estonian and goes on to face fellow 32-year-old Flavia Pennetta of Italy in a clash of the two oldest remaining players in the draw.
“It’s my first quarter-final of the year at the majors – at last I did it,” said the American, who had fallen in the fourth round in Australia, the third round at Wimbledon and suffered a second round French Open exit.
“It was a tough match. Kaia hits the ball very hard and moves the ball around really well. I wanted to stay relaxed and told myself that whatever happens, Serena, you’re still in the doubles.”
Seventh seeded Bouchard, the drawcard at next week’s Prudential Hong Kong Open, was at the centre of a medical drama on Louis Armstrong court when she had to have her blood pressure and temperature taken in her 7-6 (7-2), 6-4 defeat to Russian 17th seed Ekaterina Makarova.
Wimbledon runner-up Bouchard called the medical timeout at 3-2 down in the second set when she was obviously struggling in the 31-degree Celsius heat and humidity running at 60 per cent.
She slipped 4-2 down, broke back for 4-3 but left-handed Makarova was too strong for the ailing Canadian as she booked a spot in the last-eight for the second successive year.
“I was feeling very light headed and dizzy on the court, just seeing things a little blurry. I just generally didn’t feel good,” said Bouchard, whose defeat meant that for only the second time in the Open era there will be just one top-eight seed in the quarter-finals of a major.
“It developed as the match went on. I have had a few late, tough matches here, and I don’t think I fully recovered from those.”
Bouchard’s defeat ended her run of having reached at least the semi-finals at all the majors this year and also means that for the first time since 1977, the four grand slam women’s championship matches will have featured eight different players.
Makarova next faces former world number one Victoria Azarenka, the runner-up to Williams in 2012 and 2013, who came back from a set down to defeat 145th-ranked Serbian qualifier Aleksandra Krunic 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.
Italian 11th seed Pennetta reached her fifth quarter-final in New York with a 7-5, 6-2 victory over Australian 29th seed Casey Dellacqua.
Pennetta made the semi-finals in 2013, where she was defeated by Azarenka, and despite having a 5-0 losing record against Williams, she refuses to believe that the outcome of Wednesday’s quarter-final is a foregone conclusion.
“Of course she’s better than me, but I still believe I can beat her. If she doesn’t have a good day I can do that,” said Pennetta of an opponent who has dropped just 17 games in four rounds.
The quarter-finals in the bottom half of the draw take place on Tuesday and feature 17-year-old Belinda Bencic up against China’s Peng Shuai, while former world number one and 2009 runner-up Caroline Wozniacki faces Italy’s Sara Errani.