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Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic Off To US Open Semifinals

Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic Off To US Open Semifinals

Posted by Liliana Castaño on September 04, 2014

After a bad-as-can-be start, dropping the first three games, Serena Williams quickly turned things around and stretched her US Open winning streak to 19 matches to get back to the semifinals.

Considered the best server in women’s tennis, the No. 1-seeded Williams was broken twice in a row at the outset Wednesday night, before taking complete control for a 6-3, 6-2 victory over 11th-seeded Flavia Pennetta of Italy.

Williams is bidding to become the first woman with three consecutive U.S. Open titles since Chris Evert took four in a row from 1975-78. The 32-year-old American also is trying to pull even with Evert and Martina Navratilova at 18 Grand Slam singles trophies.

Williams, a five-time champion at Flushing Meadows, had not yet reached a major semifinal in 2014, bowing out in the fourth round at the Australian Open, the second round at the French Open, and the third round at Wimbledon. The last time she didn’t reach at least one Grand Slam title match in a season was 2006, when she entered only two of the sport’s top tournaments.

On Friday, Williams will meet Ekaterina Makarova, a Russian seeded 17th who advanced to her first Grand Slam semifinal by eliminating Victoria Azarenka 6-4, 6-2. The other women’s semifinal will be No. 10 Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark against unseeded Peng Shuai of China.

Also Wednesday night, No. 1 Novak Djokovic advanced to the semifinals, taking three of four matches against Andy Murray by scores of 7-6, 6-7, 6-2, and 6-4.

Djokovic, the 2011 US Open champion and a participant in the past four finals in New York, has now won 13 of 20 career meetings against Murray.

The match went on for 3 1/2 hours and ended at 1:15 a.m. Thursday.

Djokovic will face Ken Nishikori of Japan in the semifinals on Saturday.

Earlier Wednesday, Kei Nishikori became the first man from Japan to reach the U.S. Open semifinals in 96 years, outlasting third-seeded Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7), 6-7 (5), 6-4.

That match went 4 hours, 15 minutes, and the 10th-seeded Nishikori managed to shake off any lingering exhaustion from his previous victory, which lasted 4:19 and ended at 2:26 a.m. Tuesday, equaling the latest finish in tournament history.

Nishikori began slowly against the Australian Open champion, but eventually got his bearings and used crisp returns and strong net play to edge ahead.

“Actually, I started a little bit tight, but my body was OK,” Nishikori said in an on-court interview. “I don’t know how I finished — but I’m very happy.”

In the semifinals, Nishikori will face No. 1 Novak Djokovic or No. 8 Andy Murray, who each owns a U.S. Open title and were to face each other in Wednesday’s last match.

“Hopefully I can play 100 percent tennis next round,” Nishikori said.

On Williams’ second serve of her quarterfinal, she was called for a foot fault – an unpleasant reminder of her meltdown after that very same ruling in the closing moments of a loss to Kim Clijsters in the 2009 U.S. Open semifinals.

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