Bouchard reaches US Open's 4th round for 1st time

Photo: The Canadian Press

Canadians Milos Raonic and Eugenie Bouchard have claimed spots in the fourth round of the U.S. Open with wins on Saturday.

Raonic, the fifth seed from Thornhill, Ont., struggled at times but held off unheralded Victor Estrella Burgos of the Dominican Republic for a 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5), 7-6 (3) victory.

Bouchard dazzled for a second straight match under the Arthur Ashe showcase court lights, overcoming a run of poor play but defeating Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 6-2, 6-7 (2), 6-4 in just over two and a half hours.

Bouchard remains impressed by the massive 24,000 capacity stadium, the largest in the sport, where she has played her last two matches.

"I felt great,'' said the seventh seed who will face Ekaterina Makarova of Russia in the fourth round. "With all the energy around, I felt we had to put on a show.

"I don't know if I can ever get used to something so special as here. It was windy and difficult tonight but I don't care, I'd play here any time.''

The 20-year-old, from Westmount, Que., fought from a break down in the second set but lost the set in a tiebreaker.

The third set was full of plot twists as Bouchard finally ended a run of three straight breaks of serve between the two as her Czech opponent double-faulted for the eighth time to drop serve in the ninth game.

Leading 5-4, Bouchard served out the victory to continue the Grand Slam run of form which has taken her into the WTA top 10.

Victory over the veteran Zahlavova Strycova, the 30th seed, marked the third for Bouchard, who also won their meetings in Osaka last autumn and in Nurnberg on clay this spring.

Earlier Saturday, Raonic hammered over 22 aces and 52 winners, breaking on three of 11 chances against the 34-year-old Estrella Burgos - the oldest man left in the draw - in a match that took two hours and 45 minutes.

"It was difficult. He's playing well. He's playing with a lot of aspiration,'' Raonic said his opponent, who was making his New York debut.

"It was a lot of fun, the atmosphere out there. I'm glad that I was able to play well in the important moments. I had a bit of an understanding what to expect. I played him about four years ago now, so I knew him a little bit.''

The 23-year-old Raonic will next face tenth-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan, who defeated Argentine Leonardo Mayer 6-4, 6-2, 6-3.

Raonic won the last meeting between the two, in the fourth round at Wimbledon, but lost to the Japanese player in Madrid last spring and Tokyo last fall in the Japan Open final.

Raonic, who reached the Wimbledon semifinals, had to battle both his opponent and a crowd of local Dominicans who gave their player loud and sustained support in the biggest match of his career.

"Victor played really well, this is a very special week for him,'' said Raonic. "As for me, I've got to keep battling, getting through on grit and trying to find a way to win.

"It's good to get the win,'' he added. "It's good to put myself in this position in the fourth round to go further in this tournament and give myself an opportunity to play better. I believe I can play better. I believe I will.''

Raonic needed to work to win each of the opening two sets against his No. 80 opponent, who finally qualified to play in New York after missing out on five previous occasions.

In doubles action, Vancouver's Vasek Pospisil and his American partner Jack Sock advanced to the third round with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Marin Draganja and Florin Mergea.

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