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HindustanTimes Sat,27 Dec 2014

Tennis

Djokovic into US Open semi-finals
AFP
USA, September 06, 2013
First Published: 08:36 IST(6/9/2013)
Last Updated: 08:54 IST(6/9/2013)

Defending champion Andy Murray crashed out of the US Open on Thursday as Stanislas Wawrinka pulled a shocker to reach his first Grand Slam semi-final, a matchup with world number one Novak Djokovic.

Swiss ninth seed Wawrinka stunned the Olympic and Wimbledon champion 6-4, 6-3, 6-2, to book a last-four date with Djokovic, the 2011 winner from Serbia who ousted Russian 21st seed Mikhail Youzhny 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-0.

"I feel great. I'm really happy. It's amazing for me to be in my first semi-final in a Slam," Wawrinka said. "To beat him in three sets the way I was playing is good."

   
For only the second time in 146 Grand Slam matches, Murray failed to manage even one break point.
   
"He played great. That was the hardest part about the match," Murray said.
  
"He just hit the ball extremely well. I didn't create a break point chance. He served well. He hit a lot of lines and was going for big shots."
   
Reaching his seventh US Open semi-final in a row in hopes of a fourth trip in a row to the final, Djokovic lost his first set of the fortnight but reached his 14th consecutive Grand Slam semi-final, the second-longest all-time streak.
   
"Definitely (I'm proud)," Djokovic said. "I've always been trying to play my best tennis at a Grand Slam and every Grand Slam offers something different."
   
Spanish second seed Rafael Nadal, a 12-time Grand Slam champion, and French eighth seed Richard Gasquet, whose only prior last-four Slam run came in 2007 at Wimbledon, will meet in Saturday's other semi-final.
   
Wawrinka is only 2-12 versus Djokovic, including fourth-round losses at last year's US Open and this year's Australian Open, but reigning Australian Open champion Djokovic says he'll forget about his 11-match win streak over the Swiss.
   
"It's going to be a very close match. I think there is no clear favorite," Djokovic said. "He showed why he deserves to be in the top 10 in the world. I also feel good on the hardcourts and quite confident."
   
Wawrinka, deeper in a Slam for the first time than 17-time major champion compatriot Roger Federer who bowed in the fourth round, used relentless pressure to wear down Murray.
   
"The first set was not really easy. It was very windy," Wawrinka said. "We were trying to find the game. To get that gave me a little bit of confidence."
   
Wawrinka ignored the wind to fire 45 winners, three times Murray's total.
   
A grim-faced Murray set a record for hustling to the interview room, arriving before Wawrinka could even leave the court, the 26-year-old Scotsman's stoic visage a sign of his unhappiness.
   
"I would have liked to have played a little bit better," Murray said. "It's a shame I had to play a bad match today."
   
Wawrinka, 28, lost in the quarter-finals of three prior Slams, including this year at the French Open, but became only the third man from his nation to reach a Slam final four, joining Federer and Marc Rosset.
   
Murray saved the first five break points of the match in the 10th game of the first set, errant backhands by the Swiss standout helping his cause.
   
But Murray swatted a forehand long on Wawrinka's sixth break chance to drop the set, smashing his racquet on the court a moment later in frustration.
   
"That 5-4 game in the first set was important game," Murray said. "I had a chance to close it out. He had quite a few chances. I made a few mistakes."
   
Murray screamed to himself "I'm serving like a donkey" in the sixth game and was broken at love on the way to surrendering Wawrinka 12 points in a row and eventually the set.
   
Murray screamed as he sat down after the set, staring at the court, talking to himself and shaking his head as music blared from the stadium loudspeakers.
   
He double-faulted away a break to hand Wawrinka a 2-1 lead in the third set and the Swiss ripped a forehand winner past Murray for a break and a 5-2 lead to set up victory after two hours and 15 minutes.
  
Djokovic, 26, dominated the first two sets. Youzhny broke for the first time for a 3-1 edge, but answered Djokovic's break in the seventh game with one of his own in the eighth and held for the set, only to have Djokovic raise his game and sweep the last six games.
   
"Conditions were not easy," Djokovic said. "Under windy conditions he can be really tricky for anybody. I played pretty well except for that third set."


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