The Kazakh, seeded 23rd in New York this summer, has twice reached the last eight at the French Open but has never really excelled on hard courts, with this being the first time she had made the second week at the US Open. Against Martic she was up against one of the most consistent slam performers on tour, with the Croatian having reached the second week at four of the last five majors, though the Kazak eventually broke down Martic in the third set to prevail 6-3. 2-6, 6-4.
Neither Putintseva or Martic had attracted too much attention in the opening week of action at Flushing Meadows. All three rounds prior to this for both women were against women ranked outside the top 100; this match represented a step up in class for both and also a real opportunity to reach a quarterfinal at a Grand Slam on a hard court, away from the clay courts on which both generally play their best tennis.
Putintseva started incredibly brightly. The Kazakh looked sharper in the early stages and ran Martic ragged, breaking twice to hold a 5-0 lead after just 20 minutes of play on the Arthur Ashe Stadium.
It took until the sixth game of the set for Martic to even hit a winner, though the Croat was able to make the closing stages of the set more competitive. The eighth seed took advantage from some nervy play from Putintseva to win three straight games and had break points to get back on serve though was unable to convert. The 23rd seed was able to take a fourth set point to close out the opener, having failed to do so at 5-1.
Martic had cut down the number of errors flying off her racket and, after saving break points in the opening game of set two, began to look the more positive on court. The eighth seed sealed the first break of the set in a length game to take a 4-2 lead, and was unbothered by a medical timeout for Putintseva in the immediate aftermath. She broke for a second time at 5-2 to force a decider.
Momentum was with the world number 15 though she was unable to take advantage, with a resurgent Putintseva displaying some highly aggressive and high quality tennis to storm to a decisive 4-0 lead in the decider. There were echoes of the first set as she was broken when serving at 5-2, though she held at 5-4 to claim victory in just over two and a half hours.
Hard-hitting 28th seed Jennifer Brady, who beat former champion and 17th seed Angelique Kerber earlier today, awaits in Tuesday’s quarterfinal for the 23rd seed.