| By Brian Coleman
Kristie Ahn defeated Jelena Ostapenko on Saturday to claim one of the final 16 spots at the 2019 US Open.
Photo Credit: Brian Coleman/NY Tennis Magazine

 

Americans Kristie Ahn and Taylor Townsend continued their incredible runs at the 2019 US Open on Saturday afternoon, as each won their respective third-round matches to book their tickets to the final 16 in Flushing Meadows.

Two days after shocking fourth-seed and Wimbledon champion Simona Halep in a thrilling three-set match, Townsend backed up that performance by ousting Halep's compatriot, fellow Romanian Sorana Cirstea 7-5, 6-2.  

In that match against Halep, Townsend came to the net 105 times. She did not waver from that strategy on Saturday, charging to the net 75 times against Cirstea and winning 47 of those points. She converted on five of her seven break point opportunities, and saved nine of her own in the process. 

"It definitely showed against Halep that it works," said Townsend of her strategy. "You know, I played my first round and I definitely didn't come in as much, but I was doing it and I was trying to be a little more cognizant of it. Once I saw that it worked and, you know, the effect that I had, I tried to implement it as much as I could."

 

Townsend becomes the first qualifier to advance to the second week of the US Open since both Johanna Konta and Anett Konatveit achieved the feat in 2015. Up next for Townsend is the 15th seeded Canadian Bianca Andreescu, who knocked off two-time finalist and 19th seed Caroline Wozniacki 6-4, 6-4. 

Andreescu jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second set, only to see Wozniacki claw her way back into the set. But the Dane struggled with her serve and fell behind 0-40 in three different services games in the second set, and Andreescu was able to nail down the key break at 4-4 before serving out the match. 

“I felt really good. I started off the match pretty well, and then the second set, as well. I was up 3-love but then, as expected, she found a way and she changed a couple of things. I felt like I relaxed a little bit,” said Andreescu. “But then I put things together, and then I managed to pull through in the end.”

 

“It means a lot,” she added. “Because this is my best result in a Grand Slam. I’m really, really pumped.”

Flushing-born Kristie Ahn pushed her way into the second week of the tournament by downing former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 6-3, 7-5 in one hour and 48 minutes. 

Ahn converted on four of her 10 break point chances and saved four on her own serve, securing the key break at 5-5 in the second set and proceeding to serve out the match.

The former Stanford standout, who made her main draw debut here in Queens as a 16-year-old in 2008, is enjoying the run of her professional career, and will look to keep it going when she plays 25th seed Belgian Elise Mertens for a spot in the quarterfinals.

Mertens defeated Andrea Petkovic 6-3, 6-3 on Saturday. 

Julia Goerges powered her way past seventh-seed Kiki Bertens, winning 6-2, 6-3 behind 18 winners and a clip of 74 percent of points won on her first serve. 

She will square off against 23rd seed Donna Vekic of Croatia, who made her way into the fourth round with a routine 6-4, 6-1 win over Yulia Putintseva. 

13th seed Belinda Bencic advanced without having to play on Saturday, as her opponent, 21st seed Estonian Anett Kontaveit withdrew with an illness. Bencic now awaits the winner of Saturday night’s showdown between defending champion Naomi Osaka and American teenager Coco Gauff.

 

 

Brian Coleman

 Brian Coleman is the Senior Editor for New York Tennis Magazine. He may be reached at brianc@usptennis.com