Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Djokovic fends off Murray to advance

NEW YORK—Through a pair of back-and-forth sets, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray put on a display befitting a match-up of past U.S. Open champions.
They tracked down would-be winners and somehow got them back—prolonging points that involved 10 or 20 strokes or more, extended by Djokovic’s slides and splits or Murray’s gifted anticipation.

After one 30-shot masterpiece on his way to victory, Djokovic raised his right fist, bellowed, “Come on,” and windmilled his arms to rile up the crowd.
Eventually, the physically demanding action proved too much for a fading Murray and Djokovic pulled away to win 7-6 (1), 6-7 (1), 6-2, 6-4 and reach the tournament’s semi-finals for the eighth-straight year.
“I knew coming into tonight’s match that it’s going to be tough, that he’s going to go for his shots, and the more aggressive one would win it,” the No. 1-ranked and top-seeded Djokovic said.
“I’m glad I managed to stay fit in the end and pull it through.”
It took a while for him to push out front in a three-hour, 32-minute match that ended after 1 a.m. this morning.
Asked in an on-court interview to look ahead to facing 10th-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan in Saturday’s semi-finals, Djokovic joked: “My thoughts are just directed to sleeping right now.”
Djokovic broke the eighth-seeded Murray to go up 3-1 in the third set, then fended off a pair of break points in the next game.
Soon, Murray was turning to his box to say, “Nothing in the legs.”
In the fourth set, a trainer came out to deliver a heat pack to Murray.
“He was fresher toward the end,” Murray noted.
“I tried to hang in as best I could.”
Nishikori, meanwhile, became the first man from Japan to reach the U.S. Open semi-finals since Ichiya Kumagae back in 1918, outlasting third-seeded Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7), 6-7 (5), 6-4 earlier yesterday.
That match lasted more than four hours—and Nishikori managed to shake off any lingering exhaustion from his previous victory over Milos Raonic, which took 4:19 and ended at 2:26 a.m. on Tuesday, equalling the latest finish in tournament history.
In the women’s quarter-finals, top-seeded Serena Williams dropped the first three games before quickly turning things around to defeat 11th-seeded Flavia Pennetta of Italy 6-3, 6-2.
Williams, who counts five U.S. Open titles among her 17 Grand Slam trophies, will play 17th-seeded Ekaterina Makarova of Russia in the semi-finals.

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