NEW YORK – Alison Riske’s run at the U.S. Open tennis tournament ended Monday with a three-set loss in the fourth round.
The 23-year-old Riske, a native of Peters Township and a former PIAA champion, forced a third set against Daniela Hantuchova, but the Slovakian veteran pulled away for a 6-3, 5-7, 6-2 victory in a rain-delayed match.
Riske was 0-5 in Grand Slam matches heading into this summer. Then she made the third round at Wimbledon and the fourth at the U.S. Open.
Down a set and a break Monday, she couldn’t get anything going against Hantuchova’s serve.
“She hit the lines so many times, I was like, `All right, we’re just going to go right to the next point because that was just too good,”’ Riske said.
Riske didn’t earn a break point until the 17th game, but she took advantage to even the second set at 4-4.
The rain came a point later, but it didn’t cost Riske any momentum. She held at love after they resumed, then broke Hantuchova’s serve at love at 6-5 to even the match.
But in the third set, the 30-year-old Hantuchova was in total control.
“I totally lost all focus and missed plenty of balls that I should make with my eyes closed,” said the 81st-ranked Riske, who is now projected to crack the top 60.
“I’ve never been in a moment like this before,” she added. “She is a seasoned player. She played ball today. I did all that I could for this moment, and that’s all I could do.”
Ranked as high as No. 5 more than a decade ago, Hantuchova is down to 48th. She is back in the U.S. Open quarterfinals for the first time since 2002, her first Grand Slam quarters since the 2008 Australian Open.
She will face Azarenka or 13th-seeded Ana Ivanovic, whose match was postponed until Tuesday morning because of the rain.
“Just fighting like crazy, really leaving everything I’ve got on the court,” Hantuchova said. “Really putting my heart into it because it means so much to me. Sometimes you keep trying, keep trying, and then you don’t know why, but it just comes all together.”
The tournament’s biggest came Monday night when Roger Federer lost in the fourth round for the first time in a decade, surprisingly beaten 7-6 (3), 6-3, 6-4 by 19th-seeded Tommy Robredo of Spain.
The loss caps a rough Grand Slam season for Federer, who owns a record 17 major championships, including five at Flushing Meadows.
He exited in the semifinals at the Australian Open in January, the quarterfinals at the French Open in early June, and the second round of Wimbledon – against a player ranked 116th, to boot – in late June.
That ended Federer’s record run of reaching at least the quarterfinals at 36 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments.
Now, thanks to Robredo, Federer has a new, unwanted streak: Two consecutive losses before the quarterfinals at majors.
Roberta Vinci will face a fellow Italian in the quarterfinals for the second straight year.
In a testament to the depth among Italy’s women’s tennis players, the 10th-seeded Vinci will also be taking on a countrywoman for the third straight round at this year’s tournament. She and longtime friend Flavia Pennetta both won Monday.
“We try to motivate everyone,” Pennetta said. “It’s really nice because always we make a good result, almost always.”
On a day when experience trumped youth, three 30-something women beat opponents in their early 20s. Vinci defeated Camila Giorgi 6-4, 6-2 in 67 minutes. Moments later, rain started pouring down, stopping all matches at Flushing Meadows for 4½ hours.
The delay couldn’t have come at a better time for Pennetta, who returned to the court to seize momentum and clinch a 6-2, 7-6 (3) victory over 21st-seeded Simona Halep.