Saturday, September 10, 2016

Djokovic beats Monfils in bizarre U.S. Open semifinal

Novak Djokovic, shown in 2015, improved to 13-0 against Gael Monfils.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Gael Monfils imitated Muhammad Ali.
   Novak Djokovic looked like "The Incredible Hulk."
   This, it's safe to say, was no ordinary Grand Slam semifinal.
   The result, though, was the same as always. Djokovic improved to 13-0 against Monfils with a wacky 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 victory on a steamy Friday in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   In a desperate attempt to break through against Djokovic, the 10th-seeded Monfils said he employed Ali's "rope-a-dope" strategy by playing nonchalantly for the first two sets.
   ESPN commentator John McEnroe, however, blasted the 30-year-old Frenchman on the air for an apparent lack of effort.
   After dropping the second set, Monfils reverted to his usual flashy style of play. It worked, for a while.
   Djokovic, disgusted at missed break-point opportunities late in the third set, ripped his shirt and briefly played with his chest partially exposed.
   A trainer massaged Djokovic's left shoulder and then his right one during the match, but he said afterward that he wasn't concerned.
   Djokovic will seek his second straight U.S. Open title and third overall on Sunday (1 p.m. PDT on ESPN) against third-seeded Stan Wawrinka. The 31-year-old Swiss advanced to his first U.S. Open final by beating sixth-seeded Kei Nishikori, the 2014 runner-up to Marin Cilic, 4-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-2.
   Djokovic, a 29-year-old Serb, also will try to earn his third Grand Slam title of the year and 13th overall to break a tie with Roy Emerson for sole possession of fourth place on the career list. Roger Federer holds with record with 17, and Rafael Nadal and Pete Sampras are tied for second with 14.
   Djokovic is 19-4 against Wawrinka, whose last victory in the series came in the 2015 French Open final. Wawrinka also defeated Nadal for the 2014 Australian Open crown.
   This will be the third meeting between Djokovic and Wawrinka in the U.S. Open. Djokovic won 6-4, 6-1, 3-1, retired in the round of 16 in 2012 and 2-6, 7-6 (4), 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the semifinals in 2013.
   In the Men's Collegiate Invitational, top-seeded Thai-Son Kwiatkowski, who has helped Virginia win the last two NCAA titles, demolished third-seeded Tom Fawcett of Stanford 6-2, 6-0 in the semifinals.
   Kwiatkowski will face fourth-seeded Austin Smith, who completed his eligibility at Georgia this year, for the title of the eight-man tournament.
   The invitational began in 2014 to bring attention to college tennis during the U.S. Open.

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