Photo: Paul ZimmerCaroline Wozniacki (DEN)
Caroline Wozniacki made it through to her first Grand Slam semifinal in three years after a brutal 60 61 win over Italy’s Sara Errani.
The former world no.1 moved into her fourth US Open semifinal after dismantling her opponent’s serve, winning a staggering 82% of first serve return points as she broke Errani in each of the 2012 Roland Garros finalist’s six service games.
“I always go out there and I believe I'm going to play well. I had a game plan in mind, and I just went for my shots. I knew that I had to be aggressive but not too aggressive, kind of find a balance between finding the opening, and then go for my shots whenever I had the balls for it,” Wozniacki said.
Reflecting on the unwavering level of returns and physical abilities of her opponent, Errani was quick to evaluate, “I think [Wozniacki] was much stronger than me physically. I think was the most important difference today. She doesn't let you play. She never miss. Of course was feeling quite good for shots, but physically not that good. She was much better than me about that.”
Wozniacki’s opponent for a place in Sunday’s final will be Peng Shuai after the Chinese no.3 defeated fellow surprise quarterfinalist Belinda Bencic 62 61.
Peng continued her routine progress through the draw with yet another straight set win after clinically converting on four of her five break point opportunities.
Bencic had dumped Angelique Kerber and Jelena Jankovic out of the draw in her previous two rounds but was powerless to deny the Tian Jin based 28-year-old a place in her first ever Grand Slam singles semifinal.
Peng, delighted by her achievement, referenced work she had put in at the start of the season as a possible reason for the accomplishment, “It's really happy what I did it now and then thinking from the beginning year I was doing lot of fitness and also like I keep practice, try to improve my game. Maybe this time I find a way or I catch like right time.”
Before Wozniacki’s victory, the two-time women’s doubles Grand Slam champion, was well aware of the challenge either potential last four opponent would present, “They have like really good movement and they both really strong mentally and really tough. For now I think I will just like try to rest and when they come here, I will try to focus again.”
The men’s draw lost a fourth top ten seed on Day 9 as Grigor Dimitrov was outclassed by the ever-entertaining Gael Monfils 75 76(6) 75.
The Bulgarian missed the opportunity to level the match at one set all after failing to convert two set points in the second set tiebreak and was made to pay by Monfils who booked his place in the US Open quarterfinals for the second time in his career after falling at that stage in 2010 to Novak Djokovic.
An understandably disappointed Dimitrov was frustrated that he could not bring his best level to the court, “It was a very poor match for me. I don't know. Where should I begin? Just a bad match for me. Didn't play as close to the way I wanted to, and I think it was a great stage for me to come out on there on the centre court and perform my best. Just everything went the opposite way today.”
Monfils will now have the spotlight firmly focussed on his back when he faces Roger Federer in the quarterfinals and the Frenchman is looking forward to the experience, “Well, he's definitely the legend of the tennis, you know. I think right now he's the greatest tennis player we ever had, and for me it's always challenging to play against him. It's always great, because no matter what, you know, I will say to my children, you know, I played against him.”
Federer reached the quarterfinal stage after opening the night session at Arthur Ashe Stadium with a comfortable 64 63 62 win over Roberto Bautista-Agut. The Cincinnati champion broke the 17th seed, who has enjoyed a breakout year, six times in a fourth round match that fell just short of two hours in duration.
Having fallen at the same stage in 2013, Federer, happy with his progress, took time to look forward and assess Monfils, “He's got easy top ten potential, you know. He's a great mover. He's got a wonderful serve, really, which nobody really talks about because of his athletic movement which stands out so much, you know. His issues have really been just his fitness and his setbacks he's had because of injury.”
Through to the other quarterfinal in Monfils and Federer’s half of the draw, after wins on Louis Armstrong Stadium, were Marin Cilic and Tomas Berdych. The Croat overcame a huge challenge to beat 26th seed Gilles Simon for the first time in five career meetings by a 57 76(3) 64 36 63 margin before Tomas Berdych put an end to a great first US Open run from Dominic Thiem with an assured serving display to progress by a 61 62 64 scoreline.