Olympic Champs Zverev, Bencic Reach US Open Quarterfinals

By The Associated Press
The Associated Press
The Associated Press
September 7, 2021 Updated: September 7, 2021

NEW YORK—Alexander Zverev and Belinda Bencic want a trophy in their hands to go with the gold medals they had around their necks.

The Tokyo Olympics tennis champions both moved into the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open on Monday, getting a step closer to their first Grand Slam titles.

Zverev beat Jannik Sinner 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (7) for his 15th straight victory. The No. 4 seed from Germany started that run in Japan, carried it through a title in Cincinnati and then kept right on going at the U.S. Open, where he was the runner-up to Dominic Thiem last year.

Zverev said his gold medal is with him in New York. The 24-year-old, who has been accused by a former girlfriend of domestic abuse, joked in his on-court interview that he cuddles with the medal when he’s in bed because he doesn’t have a girlfriend.

He said keeping the medal with him is a way to remind himself of his success over the last month. He pointed to the confidence he’s gained from it as a reason he pulled out a couple of close games late in the second set, then came from behind to take the tiebreaker.

“I think that’s maybe the last few months for me, right there,” he said.

Belinda Bencic
Belinda Bencic, of Switzerland, celebrates her win over Iga Swiatek, of Poland, during the fourth round of the U.S. Open tennis championships, in New York, Sept. 6, 2021, . (Elise Amendola/AP Photo)

Bencic also had her best result in a major at the U.S. Open, reaching the semifinals in 2019 in her last appearance. The 24-year-old from Switzerland is a victory away from getting back there after beating 2020 French Open champion Iga Swiatek 7-6 (12), 6-3.

The 11th-seeded Bencic pulled out the lengthy first-set tiebreaker, then took the second set in 43 minutes — only about 20 more than the tiebreaker lasted.

“The set was so even, so I think in the tiebreak it’s always a little bit about luck,” Bencic said.

But luck doesn’t explain her results in New York, where she has reached the last eight in three of her six appearances. She was a quarterfinalist in 2014 in her debut.

Zverev’s winning streak includes a victory over Novak Djokovic in the semifinals at the Olympics. The top-ranked Djokovic was in action later Monday against 20-year-old American Jenson Brooksby in the same stage where he was eliminated at last year’s U.S. Open.

It was in the fourth round that Djokovic was defaulted for accidentally hitting a line judge in the throat with a tennis ball after dropping a game in his match against Pablo Carreño Busta.

Another American, No. 22 seed Reilly Opelka, was playing his fourth-round match. If both he and Brooksby won, they would be the first pair of American men to reach the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam tournament since Andy Roddick and John Isner in the 2011 U.S. Open.

By Brian Mahoney