Bianca Andreescu was left asking "is this real life?" after reaching the semi-finals of the US Open on Wednesday.

The teenager fought back from a set down to defeat Elise Mertens 3-6 6-2 6-3 to secure a last-four clash against Belinda Bencic.

At the end of the match, Andreescu looked towards her box with an almost anguished facial expression and the 19-year-old admitted she was coming to terms with the magnitude of her achievement.

"I said 'is this real life?' twice. I couldn't really believe it at that moment," said the 19-year-old.

"But then when I sat down, I just couldn't stop smiling, like I can't now."

Andreescu had never gone beyond round two of a grand slam before this tournament and the Canadian feels she is yet to show her best form.

"I'm going to be honest. I don't think I played my best tennis. I just fought really well with what I had every single day," she added. 

"I think that's the most important thing for me and I'm sure for every athlete you're not going to have good days every day.

"So, I just try my best to figure out what's going well and what's not and just go from there."

Canada has never produced a male or female singles grand slam champion, but Andreescu says the prospect of becoming the first is not on her mind.

"No, that hasn't really entered my mind, but that would be pretty awesome," she said. 

"If it happens, then I think I can pave way for many other athletes, the next generation, not only for Canadian tennis but I think for many people."

US Open spectators had their appetite for world class tennis satiated once again on Wednesday, as Matteo Berrettini and Gael Monfils delivered a thriller at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Berrettini needed nearly four hours to see off Monfils in five sets to reach his first grand slam semi-final.

The secret to his success at Flushing Meadows may be in the meals he is eating at his favourite New York restaurant, which was soon on his mind after his marathon victory.

Omnisport's man on the ground, Nicholas McGee, provides the details in our daily diary from New York.


GIOVANNI A GOOD LUCK CHARM FOR BERRETTINI

Berrettini had a new face in his box during his victory over Monfils, Giovanni Bartocci, the owner of Via Della Pace, an Italian restaurant in Manhattan's East Village that the 23-year-old has frequented during his time in New York.

Bartocci will likely be invited back after witnessing Berrettini's performance in defeating his French opponent, with the Italian set to face Rafael Nadal in the last four.

Asked in his media conference about his friendship with Bartocci, Berrettini replied: "The owner, yeah, Giovanni. Actually, he's from Rome, my city. So, you know, is not tough to get friend with a guy from the same city.

"I knew him last year. He's such a nice guy. He's always cheering for Italians. I mean, I'm the only one left, so now he's cheering for me."

On his favourite dish at the restaurant. he added: "Pasta for sure. But I like pasta in bianco. I don't know if you know it. It's like just oil and parmesan. Simple but really good."


A SUSHI CELEBRATION FOR MURRAY

Shifting to culinary delights from a different region, sushi was on the menu for Jamie Murray after his and Neal Skupski's win over Jack Sock and Jackson Withrow in the men's doubles.

The Scot snacked on the Japanese fare as he spoke to reporters following that three-set triumph.

It clearly provided the boost he needed as Murray went on to also claim victory in the mixed doubles alongside Bethanie Mattek-Sands, the pair progressing to the final by defeating Rajeev Ram and Samantha Stosur.


SCHWARTZMAN WINS SPORTSMANSHIP AWARD

Diego Schwartzman received no reward for an admirable performance against Nadal, as he was defeated in three sets by the highest remaining seed and now tournament favourite.

He can take some solace, however, in that his conduct on and off the court has been recognised.

Before speaking to reporters following his elimination, Schwartzman was presented with the US Open sportsmanship award for 2019.

A well-deserved honour for a player who should have won plenty of new fans with his displays at Flushing Meadows.

Bianca Andreescu recovered from a set down to defeat Elise Mertens 3-6 6-2 6-3 and extend her superb US Open run into the semi-finals.

Mertens had not dropped a set en route to the last eight and there were ominous signs for Andreescu when the Belgian 25th seed survived early pressure on her serve and went on to take the first set on Wednesday.

Andreescu – unbeaten since the French Open – progressed to the quarters with a frenetic three-set win over Taylor Townsend in front of a late night New York crowd.

There were considerably more fans inside Arthur Ashe Stadium for this encounter, but it still had the feel of a more low-key affair. Andreescu, 19, found a spark in the second set, though, and controlled the contest thereafter.

Mertens, a member of three-time US Open champion Kim Clijsters' academy, proved extremely resolute as Andreescu piled on the pressure.

She saved six break points in the decider but her resistance was finally shattered as Andreescu claimed a win in two hours, two minutes – booking her place in a first career grand slam semi-final, in which she will face Belinda Bencic.

Mertens staved off a pair of break points in the opening game of the match and was clinical when she received her first opportunity, converting it when Andreescu failed to properly connect with a backhand volley.

Andreescu was able to avoid going down a double break despite Mertens bringing up four more break points three games later, but she failed to find a way back into set, which her 23-year-old opponent served out to love.

Canadian Andreescu – winner of the Rogers Cup and Indian Wells this year – wasted an opportunity to impose her will on the second set as she gave an early break straight back with a backhand error.

However, she produced a magnificent sixth game to take command of the second, a backhand pass, a delicate drop shot and a rasping forehand winner giving her a 4-2 lead.

A crosscourt winner sealed the double break and forced a decider in which Mertens proved exceedingly obdurate.

It took until the eighth game for Andreescu to finally puncture Mertens' defences, a marvellous backhand return providing what proved the decisive breakthrough.

 

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN
Bianca Andreescu [15] bt Elise Mertens [25] 3-6 6-2 6-3

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Andreescu – 40/33
Mertens – 22/27

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Andreescu – 2/3
Mertens – 3/3

BREAK POINTS WON
Andreescu – 4/16
Mertens – 2/6

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Andreescu – 62
Mertens – 64

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Andreescu – 75/50
Mertens – 60/53

TOTAL POINTS
Andreescu – 86
Mertens – 75

Gael Monfils may have been knocked out of the US Open, but his 2019 experience at Flushing Meadows is not over.

The Frenchman missed out on his second semi-final in New York, losing a gruelling five-set battle with Matteo Berrettini that went nearly four hours.

For most players, Wednesday's defeat would be a blow from which they would take a long time to recover.

At 33, however, Monfils has a healthy sense of perspective, and expressed his excitement at being able to cheer on girlfriend Elina Svitolina in her semi-final clash with Serena Williams on Thursday.

"I'm not a sore loser. I gave it my all today. I served bad, but I gave my heart," Monfils told a post-match media conference.

"The crowd was amazing. They pushed me. They helped me. It was fun. It was exactly what I play for.

"I wish I could win, but I love those matches no matter what. You know, I'm proud of myself, and, you know, I will be happy, I will be happy to cheer for my girlfriend tomorrow.

"Definitely if it can be one more day here, I'm on it."

In terms of how he can refocus on the court for the remainder of the season after the 3-6 6-3 6-2 3-6 7-6 (7-5) defeat, Monfils believes he can draw on the experience of his 2014 quarter-final loss to Roger Federer at Flushing Meadows, when he had two match points against the Swiss legend.

"I've had tough ones in my career like that. Actually I have a tough one here in match point with Roger," he added.

"I know how to bounce back. Actually I played very good after that quarter that I lost in 2014 with Roger.

"I've got to take the positives of this almost two weeks and, you know, keep working hard and get back for the Asia swing."

Belinda Bencic is the last Swiss player standing in the singles competition at the US Open, a fact she is far from thrilled about.

Bencic progressed to her first grand slam semi-final on Wednesday with a straight-sets win over Donna Vekic.

She will next play Bianca Andreescu or Elise Mertens for a place in the final, carrying the flag for her country after Stan Wawrinka and Roger Federer each lost their quarter-finals in the men's singles.

"This is not a good thing. I'm not happy about this actually," Bencic told a media conference when asked about being the last remaining Swiss.

"I'm kind of surprised, like I think everyone is. It would be really nice if the boys could also make it to the semi-finals. But I'm happy I can kind of do it for them and don't let them down."

It has been an arduous journey for Bencic to get to this point. She was once ranked seventh in the world but dropped outside the top 300 in 2017 as injuries derailed her career.

Now poised to get back into the top 10, Bencic was asked if she envisioned being a grand slam semi-finalist when she was battling fitness problems.

"I was dreaming, of course, about this day coming, but you never know what's going to happen," she added. "You're not thinking about it. You're just right in the moment. Either you're practicing or focusing on your match.

"I worked hard for this. It's not like I never imagined I could do this. Still, I stayed in the moment. Yeah, [it's a] very nice feeling.

"The dream of every tennis player obviously is to win the biggest tournaments. I think for sure being number one in the world or winning a grand slam is always a dream. But I think it's still a long way to that. Of course, I think you can see it there.

"I think the work and staying in the moment is more important right now. Just taking it step by step, like I said all my career. I know it sounds boring. It's how you have to approach it.

"You cannot think too far ahead because I think that's just going to kind of make it more difficult or maybe add some pressure or something.

"I'm just trying to get a step closer to that every day. Today I am a step closer."

Belinda Bencic reached her first grand slam semi-final with a 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 victory over Donna Vekic at the US Open on Thursday.

World number 12 Bencic has a slew of top-10 scalps to her name this year, beating Naomi Osaka for the third time in 2019 to reach this stage, but has repeatedly come unstuck against more modest opponents.

One such example was a Roland Garros reverse against Vekic but, despite a wobble in the first set, there was to be no repeat this time.

Bencic's reward is a last-four meeting with either Bianca Andreescu or Elise Mertens and the promise she will herself return to the top 10 when the rankings are updated next week.

Chances were at a premium in a tight and tense opening to the match, with the first set staying on serve without a single break point opportunity until the ninth game.

Bencic appeared to become distracted at 40-15 up and crumbled, a double-fault teeing up a break point that was capitalised on when the Swiss went long in the next rally.

Bencic responded in style by powering through Vekic's next service game, though, and forced her into the net to break back, although the number 13 seed was hugely frustrated not to edge the opener before a tiebreak.

The pair traded early mini-breaks but Bencic recovered some composure to take control and ease past her close friend, roaring with delight as the set was sealed.

Having let her frustrations boil over briefly, it was ultimately Bencic's calm that got her through as she held with confidence and preyed on some poor serving from Vekic to break at 4-3 in the second.

Vekic had been down match point in the previous round against Julia Goerges but another fightback never appeared likely and she failed to rescue another tough service game, going wide to hand Bencic a landmark victory.

 

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN
Belinda Bencic [13] bt Donna Vekic [23] 7-6 (7-5) 6-3

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Bencic - 20/21
Vekic - 28/28

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Bencic - 8/7
Vekic - 4/1

BREAK POINTS WON
Bencic - 3/8
Vekic - 1/1

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Bencic - 58
Vekic - 55

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Bencic - 84/52
Vekic - 72/43

TOTAL POINTS
Bencic - 78
Vekic - 65

After the rains of Labor Day at Flushing Meadows, Tuesday saw the heat turned up on and off the court on day nine of the US Open.

As the mercury rose to leave spectators either basking in the sun or seeking shade, there were some scorching displays in the quarter-finals of the men's and women's singles.

Serena Williams needed only 44 minutes to see off Wang Qiang and reach the last four, while Grigor Dimitrov and Roger Federer thrilled the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd with an epic that ended with the 20-time grand slam champion being knocked out by the man once known as 'Baby Fed'.

Omnisport's man on the ground, Nicholas McGee, provides the details in our daily diary from New York.

 

EVERYBODY'S FREE (TO WEAR SUNSCREEN)

Forgetting your sunscreen in the hot weather is a nightmare scenario everyone wants to avoid.

But it's not big deal if it slips the minds of spectators at Flushing Meadows, as the US Open have them covered.

Forgot yours? No matter. There's plenty of free bottles to go around to make sure you'll tan, not burn.

NOT MUCH EXCITEMENT FOR NAVARRO

Number one seed in the girls' singles, Emma Navarro lost her second-round match on Grandstand to Oksana Selekhmeteva of Russia.

As a New Yorker who reached the final of the French Open and the semi-finals of Wimbledon, a more passionate crowd might have been expected to watch the 18-year-old.

However, the heat was clearly too much for one fan, who spent the contest lounging in the shade under the big screen.

THE MAN OF A THOUSAND VOICES

Moe Szyslak, Chief Wiggum, Professor Frink, they all have one thing in common. They were all voiced by Hank Azaria.

The Simpsons star was inside Arthur Ashe Stadium to take in Daniil Medvedev's four-set win over Stan Wawrinka.

As an actor with such great range, Azaria must have been impressed with the variety Medvedev demonstrated en route to a place in the last four.

SVITOLINA GOES 360

Elina Svitolina reached the semi-finals on Tuesday by seeing off Johanna Konta.

Svitolina's partner Gael Monfils could progress to the same stage of the men's singles on Wednesday, when the Frenchman will take on Matteo Berrettini.

Monfils attracted significant attention earlier in the tournament with his 360 smash on match point against Marius Copil.

Svitolina was asked about the possibility of her attempting one and, judging by her answer, it is highly unlikely the Ukrainian will be trying it against Williams.

"I have been practicing, as well," Svitolina said. "Actually this morning I did it. Not as good, though. I turn and then I hit."

When you have had as much success as Serena Williams has enjoyed, it is impossible to remember every win.

As such, it was not too much of a surprise that, as Williams celebrated her 100th US Open triumph, she conceded to having no recollection of her first.

Williams brought up her century in devastating fashion at Arthur Ashe Stadium, storming to a 6-1 6-0 victory over Wang Qiang in just 44 minutes.

Asked about whether she thinks back to her first win at her home slam, Williams replied at a media conference: "Gosh, first? I don't remember what the first one was. What was the first?"

Informed it was against Nicole Pratt of Australia, she said: "What? Wow, I do not remember that at all.

"[It does] not ring a bell at all. I wouldn't have guessed that. I remember playing her in Australia."

Then told it was a three-set match, Williams added: "It was three sets here? It was three sets in Australia. I remember that. Gosh.

"Venus will remember, though. She remembers everything. She will definitely remember."

Next up for Williams is a semi-final with Elina Svitolina, against whom she has won all but one meeting.

Svitolina beat Williams in their most recent encounter, in the third round of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, though the American joked she has also blocked that match from her memory.

Williams said: "That was a tough Olympics for me. Lost in doubles for the first time. Just really devastated about that doubles loss. Then obviously singles shortly after.

"I didn't play the Olympics in Rio."

Serena Williams powered into the last four of the US Open with a crushing straight-sets quarter-final win over Wang Qiang that marked her 100th at Flushing Meadows.

Wang produced one of the shocks of the tournament in the fourth round as she stunned second seed Ashleigh Barty to reach her first grand slam quarter-final.

However, the Chinese's dream run to the last eight ended in nightmare fashion as Williams allayed any concerns over an ankle she rolled in her victory over Petra Martic with a devastating performance.

Her 6-1 6-0 success was wrapped up in only 44 minutes and underlined her status as tournament favourite in the wake of the exit of defending champion Naomi Osaka, as well as those of Barty and third seed Karolina Pliskova.

Williams will next face Elina Svitolina in the semi-finals, and on this evidence the Ukrainian will need to produce the performance of her life to deny the American a place in her 33rd grand slam singles final.

Any possibility of Wang claiming the biggest win of her career was brutally extinguished by Williams as she started the first set by winning three games in just eight minutes.

She ripped a cross-court forehand at the net to get the opening break and Williams continued to illustrate the sizeable gap in quality in a set that saw Wang win only seven points on her own serve.

Wang was able to get on the board but Williams wrapped up the first with a thunderous ace, and kept her foot firmly on the gas in a second that somehow managed to be even more one-sided.

As Williams motored towards a bagel, Wang cut an increasingly disconsolate figure and the match was brought to a merciful end inside three quarters of an hour when the 37-year-old crunched home her 24th winner.

"It's really unbelievable, literally, from when I first started here I never thought I would get to 100," Williams told ESPN of her achievement. "It didn't even cross my mind that I would still be out here."

 

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN
Serena Williams [8] bt Wang Qiang [18] 6-1 6-0

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Williams – 24/10
Wang – 0/13

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Williams – 1/1
Wang – 0/1

BREAK POINTS WON
Williams – 5/5
Wang – 0/0

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Williams – 62
Wang – 60

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Williams – 90/62
Wang – 17/42

TOTAL POINTS
Williams – 49
Wang – 15

Elina Svitolina expects a big challenge in the semi-finals of the US Open regardless of whether she faces Serena Williams or not.

Svitolina progressed to her second successive grand slam semi with a straight-sets win over Johanna Konta at Flushing Meadows on Tuesday.

The Ukrainian has enjoyed a very successful major season having also reached the last four of Wimbledon and the quarter-finals of the Australian Open.

She will next face the winner of six-time US Open champion Williams' clash with Wang Qiang.

Williams will be the heavy favourite but Svitolina insists she expects the task of making the final to be just as difficult if it is Wang who prevails.

Asked about the prospect of facing Williams, Svitolina told a media conference: "Definitely it's a big challenge to play against her.

"I mean, [it] doesn't really matter who I'm going to play in semi-final. It's a challenge.

"A person who reaches the semi-final is playing well. You have to bring your best game to beat them. Doesn't matter who is going to be in the semi-final.

"But obviously Serena is an amazing champion. It's going to be really tough against her."

Svitolina has not faced Williams since earning her only win over the American in the third round of the 2016 Olympic Games.

Recalling that match, she said: "It was an unbelievable atmosphere. I played actually a great match. I was very young. Not very young, but I was kind of young at the time. I didn't have big wins at that time.

"For me, it gave me lots of confidence, as well, because I was playing really good sometimes. It gave me the confidence to actually let me believe that I can play consistent against the top players.

"She gave me opportunities, for sure, in that match, and I actually took them and won the match. It was a very special moment."

Elina Svitolina progressed to the US Open semi-finals for the first time after extending her unbeaten record over Johanna Konta with a 6-4 6-4 win.

In a match of two remarkably similar sets inside Arthur Ashe Stadium, Svitolina came out on top to improve her career record against Konta to 5-0 and, in the process, become the first Ukrainian woman to reach the last four at Flushing Meadows.

The fifth seed – who also made the last four at Wimbledon this year – did drop her serve twice but was otherwise impressive in a contest that spanned one hour and 40 minutes.

Both players were cautious in the early stages before the contest sparked into life with a run of three successive service breaks from the fifth game onwards.

Svitolina grabbed the first of them courtesy of a backhand that was too much for her opponent to deal with, only to then let the advantage slip immediately.

However, Konta paid the price for two backhand errors, allowing Svitolina to edge ahead once again at 4-3.

This time she did not let her rival rally, fighting hard to save a break point in the eighth game. A Konta hold forced Svitolina to serve out for the opener, a task she duly achieved when converting her second set point.

The second set followed the same pattern as the first, the duo once again holding for the first four games before a trio of breaks.

As before, Svitolina moved 4-3 up and, while unable to take two match-point opportunities that arrived on Konta's serve, she sealed the victory at the third attempt on her own serve.

Next up will either be Serena Williams or Wang Qiang, who meet later on Tuesday in their last-eight tie.

 

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN
Elina Svitolina [5] bt Johanna Konta [16] 6-4 6-4

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Svitolina - 16/13
Konta – 24/25

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Svitolina – 4/0
Konta – 3/1

BREAK POINTS WON
Svitolina – 4/8
Konta – 2/3

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Svitolina - 57
Konta - 64

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Svitolina - 62/60
Konta – 59/48

TOTAL POINTS
Svitolina - 71
Konta - 62

Naomi Osaka saw her US Open title defence ended on Monday, as defeats for two home hopes left Serena Williams as the last remaining American.

Osaka had looked in tremendous form in her third-round win over Coco Gauff, when few would have bet against her in the fourth round against Belinda Bencic at Flushing Meadows.

However, the Japanese star – who will be deposed as world number one by Ashleigh Barty following the grand slam – was beaten by Bencic for the third time this year.

Meanwhile, the incredible runs of Taylor Townsend and Kristie Ahn were stopped by Bianca Andreescu and Elise Mertens respectively, with Williams the sole hope for home singles glory as she chases a record-equalling 24th major.

 

BENCIC SCORES OSAKA HAT-TRICK

Bencic went into her match with Osaka having defeated her at Indian Wells and Madrid, and completed the hat-trick with a 7-5 6-4 victory on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Prior to going on court, Swiss 13th seed Bencic did not appreciate the difference in the significance of the occasion, but conceded it hit her after the match.

"Before the match, I didn't think it was different [to her two previous wins over Osaka]. After the match, it definitely felt different," she told a media conference. 

"I just came with the same mentality like I played her before and just really focused on the game and not about the hype or the occasion, the stadium and the round.

"After the match, it feels definitely different. It feels like this was the most important one."

 

GOERGES NO MATCH FOR VEKIC MOMENTUM

Donna Vekic was match point down against Julia Goerges but produced a remarkable fightback to reach her first grand slam quarter-final.

The Croatian 23rd seed came through 6-7 (5-7) 7-5 6-3 in two hours, 43 minutes and knew she had the edge after saving the match.

"I think I definitely had the momentum on my side after second set," she said. "I knew she was going to be thinking about her match point.

"I'm happy that I could break her and then serve it out."


ANDREESCU SILENCES HOME CROWD

Townsend's career has been revitalised by her performance in New York, coming through qualifying before beating Wimbledon champion Simona Halep en route to the fourth round.

However, Townsend finally ran out of steam against Andreescu – the 19-year-old willing her way to a 6-1 4-6 6-2 victory to extend her best performance at a major into the last eight.

Andreescu did so in front of a vociferous home crowd that was predictably pro-Townsend, and admitted it was difficult to tune out the supporters who stayed around late into the New York night.

"It wasn't easy but I heard some Canadian fans, which is nice in tougher moments," said Andreescu. "I tried not to pay attention to that but it's hard when it's everyone. I'm glad with how I managed to keep my cool.

Ahn, who defeated former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko in the third round, hit 25 unforced errors in slumping to a 6-1 6-1 loss to 25th seed Mertens.

The wildcard will break into the top 100 on the back of her exploits, though, and said of her ascension: "It's crazy. It's not like all encompassing euphoric as you think it will be.

"Maybe it's because in years past I've hyped it up so much. Right now, like, it feels good. At the same time it's like I want more versus I think in 2017 I would have, like, thrown a party for making top 100."

The start of the second week at the US Open was marked by the return of the rain, but it did not dampen anyone's spirits at Flushing Meadows.

Play on the outside courts was severely delayed as competitors endured a long wait for the weather to clear.

However, the rain was welcomed by one player, who progressed into the last eight with a stunning win.

Omnisport's man on the ground, Nicholas McGee, provides the details in our daily diary from New York.

 

RAIN, RAIN HOORAY?

While the inclement weather was certainly not welcomed by fans, or by players not lucky enough to be playing on show courts, Belinda Bencic was thrilled to see the heavens open.

Bencic knocked out defending champion Naomi Osaka 7-5 6-4 under the roof at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The Swiss said the indoor feel provided by playing with the roof closed was a significant factor in her being able to get the better of the world number one.

"I wished it was going to rain, so it rained," Bencic joked at her media conference. "Obviously I wouldn't have any problem playing outdoors as well because the big stadiums are almost indoors. I played on the outside courts, and it's just so different.

"Obviously I prefer playing indoors. I don't know why. It just feels more comfortable and good for me. But definitely such a big stadium and so close, it feels almost as indoors."

 

'MCCOCO' RUN COMES TO AN END

Caty McNally and Coco Gauff have each enjoyed a memorable US Open. McNally took a set off Serena Williams in the second round while 15-year-old Gauff was the story of the first week with her run to the third round and touching on-court joint interview with Osaka after defeat to the Japanese.

The pair also lit up Louis Armstrong with their second-round doubles win over Kveta Peschke and Nicole Melichar on Sunday, but saw their run ended in emphatic fashion by Victoria Azarenka and Ashleigh Barty.

Azarenka and Barty prevailed 6-0 6-1 in just 48 minutes, marking the first defeat for McNally and Gauff as a doubles pairing after winning 22 consecutive sets.

Though the Flushing Meadows experience is over for McNally and Gauff for this year, they intend to keep playing doubles when they can.

"This is only our third tournament together. We play so well together. There's no reason why we would stop," McNally said. "I'm really looking forward to playing with her again. Hopefully our tournament schedules work out soon. Whenever we play the same tournament, we'll play."

Long live McCoco.

 

WHAT'S WEST OF WESTEROS? (GAME OF THRONES SPOILER AHEAD)

That was the question posed by Maisie Williams' character Arya Stark as she set sail for a new adventure at the end of the epic fantasy series.

Judging by Williams' appearance in Queens today, the answer may be Flushing Meadows.

Williams was one of a raft of famous faces in attendance on Monday. Rafael Nadal had Tiger Woods out of his seat on multiple occasions, while Alec Baldwin and Big Bang Theory actor Jim Parsons also took in his win over Marin Cilic.

Whether it was on or off the court, there was star power everywhere you looked on day eight.

Belinda Bencic's previous experience as a top-10 player gave her belief she could ascend the rankings of the sport again after seeing her career derailed by injury.

Bencic reached the last eight of the US Open on Monday as he produced a magnificent display to beat defending champion Naomi Osaka 7-5 6-4.

The Swiss was ranked seventh in the world in 2016, but a succession of injury problems saw her drop to 312th by the time she returned in September 2017.

However, Bencic has worked her way back into the world's top 20 and now plays good friend Donna Vekic for a place in the semi-finals.

Asked about her experiences between her previous Flushing Meadows quarter-final in 2014 and her straight-sets defeat of Osaka, Bencic told a media conference: "Yeah, it's been a long way since then [2014], for sure.

"People always think I'm a little bit older than I actually am, because I've been here since 16, 17. I think definitely it was a good time. I learned so many things. I think everyone expected [me] to go just up. That's not how tennis goes.

"I think all true athletes have to overcome obstacles, injuries, just tough times. I think it made me a stronger person, better player.

"Of course, there were times when you're injured you wonder if you can play at this level again. Then I also believed if I'm going to get back and healthy, I can play on this level, because I proved it so many times. It was just about being consistent and if it was going to be enough.

"I think it helps when the belief is there, when you know you can be top 10. So when you have been there, you know that your way is working. So I think that helped me a lot through these injuries."

Asked about her improvement in New York, Bencic added: "I think just generally I think the mental part is just really important.

"In these top-50 players, everyone can play very good tennis, so it's not about who can hit a better backhand or who can hit a better forehand.

"I think it's definitely about the mentality, how you go to the court, how you approach, if you have fear or if you're playing freely."

In Vekic, Bencic will be playing an opponent who has endured similar struggles, having won her first WTA title at the age of 17 but then finding grand slam success difficult to come by.

"I think it means a lot, because she was also very good [at] 16, 17 won her first WTA title," Bencic said of Vekic. "Then it was, you know, the pressure and some injuries, some difficult times.

"Now we're both back. It feels very nice. I'm very happy for her. But definitely I want to win. But still I think it will be great that one of us will be in semi-final."

Naomi Osaka has not always dealt with defeat as well as she did at the US Open on Monday.

Her post-match news conferences following losses at Roland Garros and Wimbledon were much different affairs to the laid back discussion she had with the media after her fourth-round straight-sets loss to Belinda Bencic.

"In Wimbledon I walked out on you guys," Osaka joked. "In Roland Garros, I came straight from the match, so I was all gross and I just wanted to get out of there."

The reason for Osaka's change in reaction to being beaten stems from the events of Saturday in New York, when she won the hearts of sports fans around the world by convincing a tearful Coco Gauff to do a joint on-court interview with her after their third-round clash at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Osaka's sportsmanship and empathy was widely lauded, and the 21-year-old, who saw her title defence and reign as world number one ended by Bencic, believes the tournament and the experience she shared with Gauff has had a transformative effect on her.

"For me, right now I have this feeling of sadness, but I also feel like I have learned so much during this tournament. Honestly, of course I wanted to defend this tournament," she said.

"I feel like the steps that I have taken as a person have been much greater than, like, I would imagine at this point. So I hope that I can keep growing. I know that if I keep working hard, then of course I'll have better results.

"I feel like I'm more chill now. I feel like I grew. I don't feel like I put so much weight on one single match."

Osaka conceded to being surprised by the level of reaction on social media to her touching moment with Gauff, and by the extra support it earned her in the Bencic match.

However, the added backing could not help her overcome her opponent, with Osaka refusing to blame a knee problem for which she took a painkiller after going down a break in the second set.

"It was kind of weird. Yeah, I definitely felt like people were cheering for me more, which I appreciate. Yeah, it was kind of unexpected," she added.

"I hurt my knee in Cincinnati, but it's getting better. I don't want to say that that's the reason that I lost, because I obviously had played, like, three matches before this.

"The knee was a little bit annoying in the movement aspect, but I think that that's something I should have overcome in a way that I either should have started playing more aggressively or just, like, tried to, like, hit at a higher length.

Osaka, who also revealed she has not practiced serving due to being unable to land on her left leg, will have plenty of time to dissect what went wrong against Bencic as she prepares for the Asia swing and the fight for the year-end number one ranking.

However, for now the two-time grand slam champion appears more content to reflect on the many positives from a tournament that has had a greater impact on her personal development than either of those two triumphs.

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