Wednesday, September 3, 2014

U.S. Open Day 10 highlights: Nishikori survives again

   Match and upset of the day -- No. 10 seed Kei Nishikori became the first Japanese man to reach the semifinals of the U.S. championships since 1918, outlasting No. 3 seed and reigning Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7), 6-7 (5), 6-4 in 4 hours, 15 minutes.
   Nishikori advanced to his first Grand Slam semifinal after his second straight marathon. He topped No. 5 Milos Raonic of Canada 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-7 (8), 7-5, 6-4 in 4 hours, 19 minutes in a match that ended at 2:26 a.m. Tuesday EDT, tying the latest finish in U.S. Open history.
Novak Djokovic reached his eighth consecutive U.S. Open
semifinal. 2012 photo by Paul Bauman
   Notable -- Top-ranked Novak Djokovic reached his eighth consecutive U.S. Open semifinal, wearing down eighth-seeded Andy Murray 7-6 (1), 6-7 (1), 6-2, 6-4.
   Djokovic also avenged a 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 loss to Murray in last year's Wimbledon final, which ended Great Britain's 77-year men's title drought in the tournament. Murray underwent back surgery last September.
   Top-ranked Serena Williams advanced to the U.S. Open semifinals for the fourth straight year, dismissing 11th-seeded Flavia Pennetta of Italy 6-3, 6-2. Williams is trying to become the first woman to win three consecutive U.S. Open titles since Chris Evert won four in a row from 1975 through 1978.
   No. 17 seed Ekaterina Makarova of Russia outsteadied No. 16 Victoria Azarenka 6-4, 6-2 to reach her first Grand Slam semifinal. Makarova, a 26-year-old left-hander, had played in four major quarterfinals. Azarenka, the runner-up to Williams in the past two U.S. Opens, has battled injuries this year.
   Women's semifinal matchups (seedings in parentheses) -- Caroline Wozniacki (10) vs. Peng Shuai on Friday. Wozniacki leads the head-to-head series 5-1 with five straight wins.
   Williams vs. Makarova (17) on Friday. Williams leads the series 3-1, all on hardcourts. In the players' two Grand Slam meetings, both in 2012, Makarova won 6-2, 6-3 in the fourth round of the Australian Open and lost 6-4, 6-0 in the third round of the U.S. Open.
   Men's semifinal matchups -- Djokovic (1) vs. Nishikori (10) on Saturday. Djokovic leads the head-to-head series 2-1, including a withdrawal by Nishikori in the Miami semifinals in March because of a groin injury.
   The other U.S. Open semifinal will be determined on Thursday, when Tomas Berdych (6) faces Marin Cilic (14) not before 10:30 a.m. PDT and Roger Federer (2) plays Monfils (20) not before 5 p.m.
   Both matches will be televised live on ESPN.
   U.S. report -- Abigail Spears of San Diego and Santiago Gonzalez of Mexico reached the mixed doubles final for the second straight year, beating Americans Taylor Townsend and Donald Young 6-3, 6-4.
   Spears and Gonzalez, who lost to Andrea Hlavackova and Max Mirnyi last year, will face top-seeded Sania Mirza of India and Bruno Soares of Brazil.
    Northern California connection -- Top-seeded CiCi Bellis of Atherton in the San Francisco Bay Area and Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic advanced to the girls doubles quarterfinals with a 6-1, 7-6 (3) victory over Hungarians Anna Bondar and Dalma Galfi.
    Bellis and Vondrousova are both 15. They fell just short of winning the French Open girls doubles title in June as the seventh seeds, losing to unseeded Ioana Ducu and Ioana Loredana Rosca of Romania 6-1, 5-7 [11-9].
   Fast fact -- Murray was born seven days before Djokovic. Both are 27.
   Quote -- Murray, on his loss to Djokovic: "He appeared fresher than me. Whether he was or not I don't know. Maybe he does a better job of hiding (fatigue) than me."

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