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Visualizations of Day 10 at the 2016 U.S. Open

Today wrapped up the last half of the men’s and women’s quarterfinals of the 2016 U.S. Open. Two of the favorites for the title—Serena Williams and Andy Murray—were on center stage. Serena Williams was tested by a determined Simona Halep but would eventually make it through. Andy Murray, on the other hand, would fall in 5 to Japanese No 1. Kei Nishikori. Here are visual summaries of how those and the two other quarterfinal matches of the day were decided.

Pliskova Pounces

The easiest win of the day has to go to Karolina Pliskova. Pliskova went into the match the 71% favorite over Ana Konjuh. Earning a break in the opening game, Pliskova announced that she was on the attack in this match. That trend continued with a second break in the third and Pliskova took the first set swiftly after that, never facing a break point.

By the start of the second set, Pliskova had raised her win chances to 90%. Even with the probabilistic certainty of a win, Pliskova continued to play like someone with something to prove. She generated 4 more break chances in the second set while preventing Konjuh from a single break opportunity. In the end, Pliskova had won 86% points on serve, which has to be one of the most complete serve performances of the tournament.

Williams Tested

The quarterfinal meeting of Serena Williams and Simona Halep was their ninth. It has been a lopsided rivalry, if it can really be called that. And many had to suspect that Williams would cruise in two. It certainly looked like that would be the story by the end of the first set. Williams had converted 4 of 7 breaks while Halep had won just 1 of 2. At that stage, Williams’ win chance for the match was over 90%.

Being a set down against an opponent as fierce as Williams, would cause many players to check out of a match. But not Halep. The feisty World No. 5 began to read Williams serve more effectively. The real turning point seemed to come in the second game when Halep staved off 7 break points to hold her first service game. Halep seemed to take confidence from a situation that might have made other players falter and carried that over to the next game by breaking Williams serve after 4 tries. That put Halep in the advantageous position for the set and she got her first chance for a set point in the ninth game on Williams’ serve. Halep wouldn’t convert that chance but it would be her last. The tenth game would be won of the most contested of the tournament so far. At the start of that game, Halep’s fight had dropped Williams’ chances of winning the match to 78%. Over 21 points, 5 break points saved, and 3 set points missed, Halep fought to stay in the match and it finally paid off.

Still, even Halep’s glorious second set win wasn’t enough to prevent the Serena train. After two break point chances in the first game, Williams’ shutdown Halep’s game and took the match in three. It was another Williams victory by Halep’s smile after taking a set off Williams is going to be one of the things I most remember about this year’s U.S. Open.

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Kei's Day

The biggest win of the day goes to Kei Nishikori. At No. 7 in the World and with no Grand Slam titles to his name, Nishikori’s win chances of a win over No. 2 Andy Murray were just 36% at the start of the match. The game went Murray’s way in the first set, when Nishikori seemed to checkout after missing 3 break point chances in the first game. With the loss of the first set, Nishikori’s chances of an upset were less than 25%.

The momentum didn’t start to shift until the seventh game of the second set, when Nishikori won a break back and put both players back on serve. The next games went quickly up until the tenth game when Nishikori made a real move for the set. Nishikori got to his first break point chance in 6 points and didn’t squander it.

The third game was a bit of cat and mouse. The players exchanged breaks in the first and second and again in the seventh and eighth games. Murray took the upperhand when he won the final break of serve in the ninth.

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Despite being in the stronger position with two sets on the board, Murray seemed to lose faith after missing to break chances in the third game. Nishikori capitalized on the opportunity by swiftly taking two breaks in the fourth and sixth–all he would need to put the set score back to an even footing.

At only one set left to go, Nishikori and Murray were at even odds at the start of the fifth. With the pressure on, the momentum shifted in the fifth were the most dramatic of any set of the match. Nishikori taking the upperhand with break leads in the first and fifth game, Murray taking those breaks back in the fourth and eighth. It was anyone’s match to take as the players reached the ninth game but Nishikori was the first to make a move in the eleventh game, earning and converting his first break chance since the fifth game. Murray didn’t have a solution once Nishikori took that lead. It will be Nishikori’s second semifinal appearance at the U.S. Open.

Wawrinka Ends Del Potro's Wild Ride

Coming off of his silver-medal performance at the Rio Olympics, Juan Martin Del Potro got a controversial wildcard to compete at the U.S. Open. Del Potro left no doubt about that choice after definitive defeats in his first three matches. A retirement by Dominic Thiem gave him a match against Stan Wawrinka for a place in the semifinals.

The Del Potro-Wawrinka match was the headliner for the evening. And if New York fans weren’t already enamored with the Argentine, they had to be by the end of the match. In a match marked by crucial challenges, multiple calls to the trainer, strange noises on the PA, and a teary final set, there was enough drama to fill a tournament. Through it all, both players managed to give brilliant performances. Wawrinka would take the match in 4 but the message everyone watching left with was: ‘Del Potro is back!’

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