By Steve Keating
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Ana Konjuh was not a year old when Serena Williams played her first U.S. Open match but both will be in the Arthur Ashe Stadium spotlight on Wednesday, with four gripping quarter-finals to take center stage at the year’s final grand slam.
Even on a card packed with quality and intriguing story-lines, world number one Williams remains the undisputed Flushing Meadows headliner and will take on Romanian fifth seed Simona Halep.
It has been another dominant run to the last eight for 34-year-old Williams, who has not dropped serve or spent more than 68 minutes on court in any of her matches.
After moving to the top of the all-time grand slam match wins list on Monday with her 308th victory sealed against Yaroslava Schvedova, Williams has two further records in her crosshairs.
A seventh U.S. Open title would give the American her 23rd grand slam singles crown and move her past Steffi Graf for the most in the professional era.
At the other end of the spectrum is power-hitting 18-year-old Konjuh, who until this U.S. Open had never ventured beyond the third round of a grand slam.
The 92nd ranked teen booked her quarter-final with an upset of fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska and will meet 10th seeded Czech Karolina Pliskova as she continues her bid to become just the second woman to win both the U.S. Open junior girls and women’s titles.
On the men’s side, the gold, silver and bronze medalists from the Rio Olympics will battle for more glory at Flushing Meadows.
Second seed Andy Murray, who has enjoyed a dream summer with a second Wimbledon title and a second Olympic gold, would like nothing more than to end the fortnight with a second U.S. Open trophy.
Standing in the Scot’s way is Japanese sixth seed and Olympic bronze winner Kei Nisihikori who has quietly gone about his business while looking for a second appearance in the final in three years.
Argentine Juan Martin del Potro, the 2009 winner, has provided the feel-good story of the tournament.
The Olympic silver medalist, whose career has been interrupted by a series of wrist surgeries and needed a wild card to enter, will have the crowd in his corner when he takes on third seed and twice grand slam champion Stan Wawrinka.
(Editing by Ian Ransom)