As much as I’ve touted potential future #1s in Garbine Muguruza, Simona Halep and Madison Keys, there are other up and coming players who could join them…or even beat them there. Two of them scored impressive wins on day 8 of the 2016 US Open. Croatia’s Ana Konjuh, an 18-year old who won the US Open junior title when she was 15, showed she is ready for the big time with a 6-4 6-4 win over #4 seed Agnieszka Radwanska. Although 4 and 4 isn’t a blowout, it was clear who the better player was on this night. She served big, hit scorching winners and actually pushed Aga around at times, which is extremely difficult to do given the Polish star’s defensive wizardry. There is a maturity to Konjuh’s game that suggests she might have the consistency that some other young guns still need to find.
One of those young guns that can be erratic at times is Karolina Pliskova. However, a recent title at Cincinnati (where she beat world #2 Angelique Kerber) might just be the turnaround that gets her moving back into the top 10. She is now the highest ranked player from the Czech Republic, overtaking 2-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova. Pliskova will meet Ana Konjuh in the quarterfinals after a thrilling come from behind win over future Hall of Famer Venus Williams, 4-6 6-4 7-6 (3). While the women’s top half draw quarter everybody will focus on (justifiably) is the Serena Williams versus Simona Halep showdown, I think the Pliskova versus Konjuh match could have major fireworks. For sure, these two big hitters will unload some explosive serves and sizzling groundstrokes. So yes, by all means watch Williams and Halep…but take a peek at Pliskova and Konjuh, too.
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10 KAROLINA PLISKOVA d. 6 Venus Williams, 4-6 6-4 7-6 (3)
1 SERENA WILLIAMS d. Yaroslava Shvedova, 6-2 6-3
5 SIMONA HALEP d. 11 Carla Suarez Navarro, 6-2 7-5
ANA KONJUH d. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska, 6-4 6-4