The Spanish Armada of tennis stars have been known to dominate the clay courts of Roland Garros, but who knew the red and yellow could make their marks in New York too. Rafa Nadal, Feliciano Lopez, David Ferrer, Fernando Verdasco and Tommy Robredo all advanced to the Round of 16 on Sunday. In fact, Rafa, F-Lo, Nando and Ferrer occupy every fourth round spot in the 1st quarter of the draw, assuring a Spaniard a spot in the semis.
Rafa earned a 3-set win over Gilles Simon, Lopez was beating Sergiy Stakhovsky before the Ukrainian retired down 6-3, 4-0. Verdasco took out David Nalbandian 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 and Ferrer ousted Daniel Gimeno-Traver in straights.
It was unexpected that Francesca Schiavone would emerge victorious at Roland Garros this year, but would it be that far-fetched to give the Italian 6th seed a shot at winning in New York? Not by the way she's plowed through her four matches thus far, most recently crushing Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-0, 6-3, dropping just 13 games overall. Forget about Pavly's right arm, Schiavo has played even better tennis in the Big Apple than she did at the French, and her quarterfinal opponent, Venus Williams, has a lot to be scared of.
V struggled with her game against 16th seeded Shahar Peer on day 7, as the Israeli gave Williams all sorts of trouble, pushing her to a first set tiebreak, which she dropped 7-3, before going away quietly in the second, 6-3. Yes, Williams was wearing her 4th dress of the fortnight. Now, she needs her game to shine like her hot pink number did.
The shock of the day came via Stanislas Wawrinka, as the Swiss, now coached by Roger Federer's old mentor, Peter Lundgren, pulled off a stunner against Andy Murray, defeating the Scot 6-7 (3), 7-6 94), 6-3, 6-3. When Murray got down, he resorted, as usual, to his pushing antics, and Stan the Man completely handcuffed the 4th seed, who was out-aced 13-5. The victory was without a doubt one of the biggest of Wawrinka's career, but things won't get easier, as the 25th seed's 4th round encounter will be against American Sam Querrey.
Querrey had an easy time handling Nicolas Almagro, defeating the Spaniard 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. The win put Sam back in the 4th round, the same stage he reached in 2008. Two American men remain in this 2nd quarter of the draw, and the other one is John Isner, down 2 sets to one against Mikhail Youzhny on Ashe right now. The winner will take on Tommy Robredo, the fifth Spaniard to invade the 4th round. Robredo, a longtime ATP journeyman, was in a 4th set with Michael Llodra, having had one 2 of the first 3, before the Frenchman retired.
Kim Clijsters' and Ana Ivanovic's 4th round encounter was expected to be an exciting match, as the Serb is finally starting to find her game, but it was actually much less enthralling than we hoped, as Kimmie slaughtered the former number 1 in less then an hour, 6-2, 6-1. The Belgian's quarterfinal opponent will be either Elena Dementieva of Sam Stosur, up next on Arthur Ashe.