Tuesday, September 2, 2014

U.S. Open Day 9 highlights: Cilic wins marathon

Marin Cilic practices with Novak
Djokovic at Indian Wells in March.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Match of the day -- No. 14 seed Marin Cilic of Croatia topped No. 26 Gilles Simon of France 5-7, 7-6 (3), 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in 4 hours, 13 minutes to reach the U.S. Open quarterfinals for the third time.
   On the hottest day of the year in New York, 92 degrees (33.3 Celsius) and 44 percent humidity, Cilic and Simon played the second-longest match of the tournament. It was six minutes shorter than No. 10 Kei Nishikori's victory over No. 5 Milos Raonic that ended at 2:26 a.m. today New York time.     
   Upset of the day -- No. 20 seed Gael Monfils of France defeated No. 7 Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria 7-5, 7-6 (6), 7-5. Dimitrov, 23, advanced to his first major semifinal last month at Wimbledon.
   Monfils will face No. 2 Roger Federer in an attempt to equal his best Grand Slam result, an appearance in the 2008 French Open semifinals.
   Notable -- No. 10 seed Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark crushed No. 13 Sara Errani of Italy 6-0, 6-1 to reach her first Grand Slam semifinal since the 2011 U.S. Open.
   Unseeded Peng Shuai, 28, of China advanced to her first major semifinal in her 37th attempt with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Belinda Bencic, 17, of Switzerland. Peng, who uses two hands on both sides, climbed to No. 1 in women's doubles in February. She is now No. 3.
   Women's semifinal matchups (seedings in parentheses) -- Wozniacki (10) vs. Peng. Wozniacki leads the head-to-head series 5-1 with five straight wins. The other pairing will be determined today. Serena Williams (1) will face Flavia Pennetta (11), and Victoria Azarenka (16) will meet Ekaterina Makarova (17).
   Men's quarterfinal matchups -- Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Andy Murray (8), Stan Wawrinka (3) vs. Nishikori (10), Tomas Berdych (6) vs. Cilic (14) and Federer (2) vs. Monfils (20).
   U.S. report -- Unseeded Serena and Venus Williams, two-time U.S. Open champions, lost to fourth-seeded Makarova and Elena Vesnina of Russia 7-6 (5), 6-4. Serena, generally considered to have the best serve in women's history, double-faulted on the last two points.
   Northern California connection -- Two 15-year-olds from the San Francisco Bay Area lost in the second round of girls singles. Top-seeded CiCi Bellis of Atherton fell to Natalia Vikhlyantseva of Russia 7-6 (9), 2-6, 6-1, and Michaela Gordon of Saratoga succumbed to Anna Bondar of Hungary 6-3, 3-6, 7-5.
   Bellis stunned 12th-seeded Dominika Cibulkova, the Australian Open runner-up in January, in the second round of women's singles last week.
   In the first round of girls doubles, top-seeded Bellis and Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic won, but Gordon and American Sophia Kenin lost.
   In men's doubles, top-seeded Bob and Mike Bryan will meet unseeded Scott Lipsky and Rajeev Ram in an all-American semifinal. All except Ram played at Stanford, the Bryans in 1997 and 1998, and Lipsky from 2000 to 2003.
   Fast fact -- Federer owns the career record for most Grand Slam quarterfinals in the Open era (43).
   Quote --An emotional Peng in an on-court interview after her victory: "It's an amazing time for me. I love tennis and love to play, and it's tough sometimes when I'm thinking of giving up and almost stopping playing because I don't know if I can make it or not, but my coach and parents make sure I keep fighting and never give up."

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