US Open Day 10: Serena, Azarenka, Medvedev, Thiem make semis
US Open Day 10: Serena, Azarenka, Medvedev, Thiem make semis
Serena Williams stands just two wins away from a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam singles title after winning her US Open quarterfinal over Tsvetana Pironkova on Wednesday.
Daniil Medvedev followed Williams into Arthur Ashe Stadium and dismantled fellow Russian Andrey Rublev to return to the final four in New York.
Williams will meet Victoria Azarenka in a blockbuster semifinal after the Belarusian annihilated Elise Mertens, while Dominic Thiem brushed aside Alex de Minaur in the late match, and will now face Medvedev.
Thiem reaches first semifinal in New York
Second seed Thiem was ruthless in a 6-1 6-2 6-4 domination of Australia’s De Minaur, belting 43 winners to 17.
Four of those winners came on successive points which saw Thiem close out the match with a resounding hold to love.
De Minaur made it a tighter contest when he broke the Austrian’s serve in the sixth game of the third set and erased three break points from 0-40 down in the next game to move ahead 4-3.
Yet Thiem rediscovered his range and overpowered the No.21 seed in reeling off the final three games of the match.
In the pick of the two men’s semifinals, Thiem takes a 2-1 head-to-head advantage into battle against Medvedev, although the Russian won their last meeting in 2019 on Montreal’s hard courts.
Resurgent, relentless Azarenka
Azarenka, a former world No.1, was even more dominant in a 6-1 6-0 destruction of 16th seed Mertens.
The victory, Azarenka’s 10th in a row, came in just 73 minutes, during which she kept her unforced errors to just 11 while controlling the baseline rallies and producing 21 winners.
Mertens' assessment? "I didn't do anything really wrong. I think she just did everything right."
Azarenka advances to her first Grand Slam semifinal since the 2013 US Open, the year she went on to reach her second consecutive final in New York.
Both her 2012 and 2013 finals pitted her against Williams, who won both in three sets – part of Williams’ 18-4 winning head-to-head record over Azarenka.
Serena into 10th straight US Open semi
Earlier, Williams looked on course for her earliest US Open exit since 2007 when she went down a set and a break to Pironkova.
Yet just as she did in her previous three-set wins over Sloane Stephens and Maria Sakkari, Williams elevated her game when most needed.
She sealed a 4-6 6-3 6-2 win in two hours and 12 minutes, helped by 20 aces among 45 winners, against just 24 unforced errors.
Appearing in her fourth major quarterfinal, Pironkova was playing her first tournament since Wimbledon 2017, having left the tour to give birth to son Alexander in 2018.
Yet it was her fellow mother Williams advancing; the 38-year-old American will face another mother, in Azarenka, for a place in the final.
Medvedev continues roll
The 2019 US Open finalist is yet to drop a set in five wins so far in New York.
His latest victory was a 7-6(6) 6-3 7-6(5) win over countryman Andrey Rublev, a player featuring in his second US Open quarterfinal.
Medvedev trailed 5-1 in the opening set tiebreak, but against a player he had never lost a set to in three previous wins, he dug deep and saved three set points to maintain that streak.
Third-seeded Medvedev struggled physically late in the third set, requiring treatment on his shoulder and a leg massage to counter cramp.
Yet he played intelligent, efficient tennis in the subsequent tiebreak to advance.
Tweet of the day
Quotes of the day
“I had a great feeling from the first moment on, actually. First set and also the second one, I guess it looks way easier on the score sheet than it was … (in the third) broke him with a really good game and then served it out almost perfect.”
- Dominic Thiem
"Can it get any better? For me it can't. So for me I'm excited about this. It's an amazing opportunity to play against a champion, somebody who I respect a lot, who is my friend. I hope people are excited for this match, so I hope it will be fun. I know it will be fun for me.”
- Victoria Azarenka, after setting up a blockbuster semifinal against Serena Williams.
“Sometimes when I'm serving, I just tell myself, I don't care if my arm falls off, I'm going to keep serving. And that's the attitude I need to have. For me it's about serving the whole tournament. Last year was really frustrating because I couldn't serve in the final, so I'm just hoping that I can just serve better consistently this time.”
- Serena Williams
“Djokovic was not in my half even. So in order to meet him, I would need to be in the final. So if I'm going to be in the final, then of course there is no Djokovic, maybe I'm going to say to myself: Yeah, this is an opportunity here, maybe bigger than if I would face Djokovic. Right now I still have semis to play.”
- Daniil Medvedev, refusing to look too far ahead.
Stat of the day
From the many amazing facts and figures stemming from Williams’ victory over Pironkova, here are three:
Her tally of 20 aces was the most she has produced in one match since the 2012 Wimbledon semifinals, more than eight years ago.
Serena Williams fired 20 aces in her three-set win over Tsvetana Pironkova in the #USOpen quarterfinals.— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) September 9, 2020
That is the most aces she has hit in a match since she fired 24 against Victoria Azarenka at 2012 Wimbledon.
This helped her through to a yet another Grand Slam semifinal, meaning there are just two seasons in her entire career – 1998 and 2006 – in which she has not progressed to the last four at a major.
And she has now notched 44 match wins at Grand Slam tournaments after dropping the first set – the most in the Open Era.
Day 11: Ones to watch
A pair of excellent women’s singles semifinals will feature under lights at Arthur Ashe Stadium, with 2018 champion Naomi Osaka taking on the vastly-improved Jennifer Brady before the Williams-Azarenka clash.
Incredibly, despite their history of intense, epic matches, Azarenka is yet to beat Williams at a Grand Slam tournament in 10 attempts, dating back to their first meeting at a major 12 years ago.
The men’s doubles final, pitting Mate Pavic and Bruno Soares against Wesley Koolhof and Nikola Mektic, will precede the women’s singles semifinals at Ashe.
And the top seeds in the men’s, women’s and quads wheelchair singles events - Shingo Kunieda, Diede De Groot and Dylan Alcott respectively - will headline the first day of wheelchair action at Louis Armstrong Stadium.