Thursday, September 5, 2019

Serena, Nadal close in on U.S. Open titles

   It appears that Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal each will win another Grand Slam singles title this weekend.
   Four women and four men remain in the U.S. Open singles draws, and Williams and Nadal are the only ones who have played in a major final. Actually, Williams has played in 32 of them, winning 23, and Nadal has appeared in 26 of them, winning 18.
   That, of course, guarantees nothing. If Williams and Nadal reach the finals, their opponents will have nothing to lose. Williams, in fact, is 0-3 in major finals since having her first child on Sept. 1, 2017.
   Williams needs one more Grand Slam singles title to equal Margaret Court's record of 24, and Nadal can pull within one of Roger Federer's record of 20 major singles crowns.
   The eighth-seeded Williams, who has a residence in Silicon Valley, is scheduled to play fifth-seeded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine today at 4 p.m. PDT (ESPN), followed by 13th-seeded Belinda Bencic of Switzerland against 15th-seeded Bianca Andreescu of Canada.
   Today, Bencic beat 23rd-seeded Donna Vekic of Croatia 7-6 (5), 6-3, and Andreescu topped 25th-seeded Elise Mertens of Belgium 3-6, 6-2, 6-3. Vekic, 23, reached the San Jose semifinals this summer.
   Williams, 37, is 4-1 against the 24-year-old Svitolina, a quarterfinalist as the top seed in San Jose, but they have not met since 2016. Bencic, 22, and Andreescu, 19, will meet for the first time.
   The second-seeded Nadal, 33, will face 24th-seeded Matteo Berrettini – a sturdy, 6-foot-5 (1.95-meter) Italian – for the first time on Friday at 4 p.m. (ESPN). Nadal dispatched 20th-seeded Diego Schwartzman, a 5-foot-7 (1.70-meter) Argentine, 6-4, 7-5, 6-2.
   Berrettini, 23, edged 13th-seeded Gael Monfils of France 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (5) in 3 hours, 57 minutes to become the second Italian man to reach the U.S. Open semis. Corrado Barazzutti accomplished the feat in 1977.
   In the other semifinal, fifth-seeded Daniil Medvedev of Russia is set to play unseeded Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria on Friday at 1 p.m. (ESPN). Medvedev, 23, and Dimitrov, 28, have split two career meetings, both in 2017.
   Meanwhile, top-seeded Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah of Colombia eliminated Luke Bambridge of Great Britain and Ben McLachlan (Cal, 2011-14) of Japan 6-4, 6-4 in the men's doubles quarterfinals.
   In the second round of girls singles, fourth-seeded Maria Camila Osorio Serrano of Colombia beat Katie Volynets of Walnut Creek in the San Francisco Bay Area 6-4, 6-4.

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