Roger Federer stole the show to put Nick Kyrgios in his place at the US Open.
The pair met in the third round in the most highly-anticipated men’s match of the tournament so far, but it proved to be style over substance as Federer raced to a 6-4 6-1 7-5 victory inside two hours.
There was still plenty to keep the Arthur Ashe crowd entertained, especially the forehand that Federer played around the net post in the seventh game of the third set that left Kyrgios open-mouthed in disbelief.
The Australian said: “It was almost unreal. It almost got to the point where I wanted him to start making shots like that, and I finally got it. If anyone else is doing those shots against me, I’m probably not too happy. But it’s Roger.”
Federer said: “You feel like you have to be the consistent guy rather than the flashy guy, just because he has a tendency to throw in the odd shot that you just don’t normally see on the tour.
“Other guys play the shot you’re supposed to hit and then, if you get beat, you’re like, ‘Maybe I should have hit Nick’s shot?’. Nick goes the other way around. He hits that shot but then, if he doesn’t win that point, maybe he tells himself, ‘Well, maybe I should have hit a normal shot’.”
Imitation has become a Kyrgios staple and, after sprinting out for the warm-up like Rafael Nadal, the Australian pulled out a Federer serve in the fourth game.
The Swiss, who next plays a rather different Australian character in John Millman, did not take offence, saying: “We have all imitated serves. Sure, it’s unusual to happen against you with your own serve.
“I knew right away, and I have seen him doing it several times over the last few months. Also that he’s been using my serve sometimes to great effect, which I’m very happy to see. It’s good fun.”
A quarter-final clash between Federer and Novak Djokovic seems inevitable.
The Wimbledon champion put aside the ups and downs of the first two rounds with a brilliant display to defeat Richard Gasquet 6-2 6-3 6-3 and next plays Portugal’s
Fourth seed Alexander Zverev suffered another disappointing grand slam loss, this time to compatriot Philipp Kohlschreiber, but former champion Marin Cilic came from two sets down to defeat Australian teenager Alex De Minaur 4-6 3-6 6-3 6-4 7-5 with the game ending at 2.22am.
Meanwhile, defending champion Sloane Stephens is the sole remaining top-six seed left in the women’s singles at the US Open after a day of upsets at Flushing Meadows.
Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber and fifth seed Petra Kvitova both fell on Louis Armstrong Stadium, which is rapidly establishing itself as a graveyard of champions, while sixth seed Caroline Garcia also lost.
Kvitova was the last victim of the day, the two-time Wimbledon champion overpowered by the hottest player of the moment: 20-year-old Aryna Sabalenka.
The Belarusian was not ranked highly enough to get into the tournament 12 months ago but has soared into the top 20 and won her first WTA Tour title in New Haven on the eve of the tournament.
Kerber’s exit, joining Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki, means there will be four different grand slam champions for the second year in a row.
Kerber was the last woman to collect two slam titles in a season, winning the Australian and US Opens in 2016 before a dramatic slump last year.
She has been resurgent under the guidance of Wim Fissette, capped by her brilliant victory over Serena Williams at Wimbledon, and had reached at least the quarter-finals at the previous three slams.
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But here she found Dominika Cibulkova a step too far, the Slovakian winning 3-6 6-3 6-3.
While the other big names fell around her, Maria Sharapova remained the queen of the night session, extending her perfect record with victory over Jelena Ostapenko.
The 2006 champion has played 23 times under the lights at Flushing Meadows and won on each occasion.
She got a helping hand this time from 10th seed Ostapenko, last year’s French Open champion, who hit 40 unforced errors in just 17 games to go down 6-3 6-2.
Cibulkova next plays last year’s runner-up, Madison Keys, who avoided an upset by fighting from a set down to defeat Aleksandra Krunic 4-6 6-1 6-2.
Another upset saw Cincinnati champion Kiki Bertens beaten 7-6 (7/4) 2-6 7-6 (7/1) by Czech teen Marketa Vondrousova.
Vondrousova next faces Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko, who followed up her victory over Wozniacki by beating Katerina Siniakova 6-4 6-0.
Naomi Osaka has been the most efficient player over the first three rounds and the 20-year-old Japanese-American, who next meets Sabalenka, blasted her way into the last 16 of grand slam for only the second time with a 6-0 6-0 victory over Aliaksandra Sasnovich.