Makarova enters maiden Grand Slam semifinal
Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova reached the first Grand Slam semifinal of her career, downing former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka 6-4, 6-2 on Wednesday. Makarova, a left-hander ranked 18th in the world, had fallen in four prior major quarterfinals.
But she outplayed two-time Australian Open champion Azarenka, who was runner-up to Serena Williams at Flushing Meadows each of the past two years, but has been slowed by injury in 2014.
Late on Tuesday, five-time champion Roger Federer set up a quarterfinal against eccentric French star Gael Monfils as the hugely-hyped new generation once again flopped.
Second seed Federer reached his 10th US Open quarterfinal in the last 11 years with a comfortable 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 win over Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut while Monfils, the 20th seed, reached his second New York last-eight stunning seventh-seeded Grigor Dimitrov 7-5, 7-6(6), 7-5.
Federer, the 17-time major winner, leads Monfils 7-2 in career meetings, including their most recent clash in Cincinnati last month.
“It was a tough three-setter in Cincinnati,” said Federer after winning his 25th night-time match.
The Swiss was barely troubled by Bautista Agut, the 17th seed who was trying to make a Grand Slam quarterfinal for the first time.
He broke in the third and fifth games for a 4-1 lead and despite surrendering one of the breaks in the eighth game, two successive aces sealed the opening set and there was no looking back for the 33-year-old.
Crowd favourite Monfils overcame a dramatic loss of composure in the second set to reach his second US Open quarterfinal, four years after his first.
“It’s my first ever win on the Ashe stadium which is great,” said Monfils, who turned 28 on Monday and whose best performance at a major remains his run to the semifinals at the 2008 French Open where he was defeated by Federer.
“I love to play in New York. There is so much energy and it helps me deliver my game.”
Wimbledon semifinalist Dimitrov, 23, was hoping to reach his third quarterfinal at the majors this year but despite occasional breath-taking shot-making, he was undone by 38 unforced errors.
Monfils, who hasn’t dropped a set at the tournament, raced through the first set on the back of a break for a 6-5 lead.
The Frenchman was another break to the good at 4-2 in the second before he got embroiled in a brief war of words over distractions on the court.
Still seething, the Parisian surrendered a break point by not returning the ball in the eighth game.
But he bounced back in impressive style, saving two set points in the tiebreak before winning four points in a row to open a two sets to love lead.
Dimitrov, who had never won a match in New York on his three previous visits, had to come back from two sets to love down for the first time in his career. He then added to the drama, albeit unintentionally, when he had to leave the court to replace his shoes which came apart early in the third set.
But his luck didn’t change and his campaign was over when he served up his fourth double fault of the tie.
Czech sixth seed Tomas Berdych reached the quarterfinals with a 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 win over Austria’s Dominic Thiem.
He will next tackle Croatia’s Marin Cilic for a place in the semi-finals after the 14th seeded Croatian reached his third US Open quarterfinal with a 5-7, 7-6(3), 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 win over France’s Gilles Simon.
Meanwhile, Indian ace Sania Mirza and her Zimbabwean partner Cara Black hardly broke a sweat as they entered the women’s doubles semifinals after their rivals retired midway through the quarterfinal match.
Sania and Cara, seeded third, defeated the Kazakh-Chinese pairing of Zarina Diyas and Yi-Fan Xu 6-1, 1-0 (retd.) in 45 minutes to make the last four stage. In the junior competition, India’s Sumit Nagal lost 2-6, 2-6 to seventh seeded Korean Duckhee Lee to bow out.
Men: Fourth round: 6-Tomas Berdych (Cze) bt Dominic Thiem (Aut) 6-1, 6-2, 6-4; 14-Marin Cilic (Cro) bt 26-Gilles Simon (Fra) 5-7, 7-6(3), 6-4, 3-6, 6-3; 20-Gael Monfils (Fra) bt 7- Grigor Dimitrov (Bul) 7-5, 7-6(6), 7-5; 2-Roger Federer (Sui) bt 17-Roberto Bautista Agut (Esp) 6-4, 6-3, 6-2.
Doubles: Quarterfinals: 11-Marcel Granollers & Marc Lopez (Esp) bt 2-Alexander Peya (Aut) & Bruno Soares (Bra) 7-6(3), 6-4. 1-Bob Bryan (USA) & Mike Bryan (USA) bt 7-David Marrero (Esp) & Fernando Verdasco (Esp) 6-2, 4-6, 6-4; Carlos Berlocq (Arg) & Leonardo Mayer (Arg) bt 8-Vasek Pospisil (USA) & Jack Sock (USA) 6-2, 6-2.
Women: Quarterfinals: 17-Ekaterina Makarova (Rus) bt 16-Victoria Azarenka (Bel) 6-4, 6-2. 10-Caroline Wozniacki (Den) bt 13- Sara Errani (Ita) 6-0, 6-1.
Doubles: Quarterfinals: 3-Sania Mirza (Ind) & Cara Black (Zim) bt Zarina Diyas (Kaz) & Yi-Fan Xu (Chn) 6-1, 1-0 (retd.); Martina Hingis (Sui) & Flavia Pennetta (Ita) bt 5-Kveta Peschke (Cze) & Katarina Srebotnik (Slo) 6-4, 6-3.
Mixed doubles: Semifinals: Abigail Spears (USA) & Santiago Gonzalez (Mex) bt Taylor Townsend & Donald Young (USA) 6-3, 6-4.