US Open update
This year’s men’s semi-finals at Flushing Meadows will feature just one of the past four winners, but the two clashes are no less tantalising.
With Rafael Nadal missing the tournament entirely, and Roger Federer and Juan Martin Del Potro eliminated in the quarter finals, only last year’s winner Novak Djokovic will be present in the round of four to attempt to recapture his title.
The Serbian looked in fine form as he dispatched the 2009 winner Del Potro in straight sets, winning 6-2, 7-6, 6-4, although at times he looked uncomfortable during long and tiring rallies with his opponent. Djokovic is yet to drop a set en route to the semis, but his quarter final lasted 3 hours and 6 minutes, well over an hour longer than any of his other victories.
“Even though it was straight sets it was much closer than that,” said Djokovic. “He’s a great player. I was lucky in the second set. We played some incredible points. This is very special and I’m really happy to be in the semi-finals.”
Del Potro was magnanimous in defeat, and of his opponent, who has now reached 10 straight grand slam semi-finals, he said: “He’s playing better and better every match, he’s the favourite to win [the tournament]. He played at a very high level for the whole three hours and I wish him the best.”
The defending champion will meet David Ferrer in the next round, in a rematch of their 2007 semi-final, in which the Serbian came out on top. The Spaniard, who has now reached the penultimate stage of every grand-slam this year except Wimbledon, beat Janko Tipsarevic in a 5 set classic, 6-3, 6-7, 2-6, 6-3, 7-6. Ferrer said: “I don’t have words. I’m very happy. It was a really tough match. Janko is an amazing player. He fought a lot and he deserved also to win today.”
Meanwhile British hopes of a grand slam winner in 2012 were hanging by a thread when Andy Murray lost the first set of his quarter final tie against Marin Cilic before going 5-1 down in the second. The sense that the US Open was one exertion too many in what has already been a long year for the Scot became almost palpable in the press box, but Murray surprised almost everybody by battling back and winning 17 of the next 20 games to clinch a four set victory, 3-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 6-0.
“I’ve had a lot of tough matches – everyone goes through them,” said Murray; “We’ve seen Rafa [Nadal], Novak [Djokovic] and Roger struggle here. There is pressure on you to perform well, expectations are high and sometimes you’re nervous.”
The Scot will face the Czech Thomas Berdych, who upset the odds to beat 5 time winner Roger Federer in the quarters. Both semi-final ties are scheduled for Saturday.
Theo Chiles, Tennis correspondent