For the third time this US Open, Novak Djokovic’s passage into the next round was smoothened by an injured opponent. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga provided a French anti-climax by stopping play after a bludgeoning Djokovic had run through the first two sets. The Serb is now just two matches away from retaining his 2015 US Open crown and claiming his third Grand Slam title of this calendar year. In the semifinal on Thursday, Djokovic takes on another French challenger Gael Monfils who won his quarterfinal against fellow countryman Lucas Pouille. In women’s quarterfinals, a powerful Angelique Kerber crushed last year’s runner-up Roberta Vinci and Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki dropped just two games against injured Latvian Anastasija Sevastova. Kerber takes on Wozniacki for a place in the final. In women’s doubles, India’s Sania Mirza and her new Czech partner Barbora Strycova went out of contention with a straight sets loss against Frenchwomen Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic.
Just because Jo-Wilfried Tsonga retired in his quarterfinal match against world no.1 Novak Djokovic, it should not convey the impression that the top seed was merely riding his luck. Djokovic’s walk-over second round win against the Czech Jiri Vesely and fourth-round passage having been made easy by a retiring Russian Mikhail Youzhny may tend to suggest that. But in the crucial quarterfinal with Tsonga on Tuesday, Djokovic was at his devastating best in the first two sets against the 9th seeded Frenchman. Tsonga began forcefully against the defending champion and despite his service being broken in the sixth game of the first set; the Frenchman broke right back in the seventh. But that was as far as Tsonga could progress against the Serb. The determined Djokovic broke Tsonga’s service yet again in the eighth game and held his own in the ninth to take the first set. In the second set, Djokovic engineered an early break and shattered Tsonga’s confidence. From then onwards, Tsonga could manage to win just one more game as Djokovic took the second set as well. Early in the third set, Tsonga lost a point on his serve and couldn’t continue further as he hobbled pathetically on his left knee. Djokovic sailed into US Open semi-finals for an incredible 10th consecutive year with a 6-3, 6-2 score-line and one more Frenchman dropped out of tournament. It was a big-ticket quarterfinal and Djokovic was the only player, who could prevent a Frenchman from reaching the 2016 US Open final. He has already stopped one. Now for a place in the final, Djokovic will have to see off another Frenchman because in the other all-France quarterfinal, Gael Monfils defeated Lucas Pouille 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 to set up a clash with the Serb.
In a forceful second-set show, Australian Open champion Germany’s Angelique Kerber defeated last year’s US Open runner-up Roberta Vinci 7-5, 6-0. To Vinci’s credit, she held a set point against Kerber in the opening set but a foot-fault at that stage tripped her so completely that she couldn’t prevent a second set beagle as Kerber went through at 7-5, 6-0. The German is eyeing Serena Williams’ world number one ranking and if the American fails to reach the final, Kerber could be the new women’s no.1, when new rankings are announced next Monday. To reach the final, however, Kerber will have to contend with the in-form Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark on Thursday. The Dane was lucky to be playing Latvian challenger Anastasija Sevastova, who injured her ankle and hobbled for most of the match in her 0-6, 2-6 loss. That shouldn’t take the credit away from the 2009 and 2014 US Open runner-up and former world no.1 Wozniacki, who has progressed to the semifinals merrily.
India’s Sania Mirza is out of women’s doubles. The seventh-seeded Indo-Czech pair of Sania Mirza and Barbora Strycova lost 6-7, 1-6 against top-seeded French duo of Caroline Garcia/Kristina Mladenovic. In other women doubles quarterfinals, Russian fifth seeds Ekaterina Makarova/Elena Vesnina defeated the Slovenian pair of Andrea Klepac/Katarina Srebotnik 6-4, 6-2; US-Czech combo of Bethanie Mattek-Sands/Lucie Safarova defeated US wildcards Asia Muhammad/Taylor Townsend 6-1, 6-2 and the German-Croat team of Laura Siegemund/Mate Pavic defeated another US wildcard pair of Nicole Gibbs/Dennis Novikov 6-2, 7-6. In men’s doubles quarterfinals, USA’s third-seeded Bryan Brother Mike and Bob lost a chance to win another Grand Slam after going down at 6-7, 6-4, 3-6 to eighth-seeded Spaniards Feliciano and Marc Lopez.
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