|Victoria Azarenka, on Tuesday
New York: Spain’s Rafael Nadal lost a set for the first time at this year’s US Open on Monday but recovered quickly to safely book his place in the quarter finals, albeit against an unexpected opponent. Richard Gasquet and David Ferrer battled their way into the last-eight.
Nadal gave his supporters at Flushing Meadows a brief heart flutter when he lost the opening set to Philipp Kohlschreiber but rebounded to beat the German 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-3, 6-1.
Meanwhile, Li Na became the first Chinese player to reach the semi-finals of a US Open when she beat Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova 6-4, 6-7(5) 6-2 in the quarter finals on Tuesday.
Li, seeded fifth at Flushing Meadows, reeled off the last four games to seal victory after nearly two and a half hours at Arthur Ashe Stadium, raising both fists in the air as the New York crowd roared its approval.
“This is my first time in the semi-finals so I'm very proud of myself,” Li, already the only player from the world’s most populous country to win a Grand Slam singles title, said in a courtside interview.
“After losing the second set, I was feeling a little bit sad ... so I just told myself to play point by point and try my best.”
Li had eight double faults and 42 unforced errors but was too street-wise for her opponent when it really mattered.
Earlier, Victoria Azarenka had booked her place in the quarter finals when she beat Serbia’s Ana Ivanovic 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in an error-strewn fourth-round match.
Azarenka dropped her opening set for the second match in a row but fought her way back to win after more than two gruelling hours on a windy Arthur Ashe Stadium.
“Ana just came out firing, she played amazing tennis in the first set ... ripping winners and serving great,” Azarenka said in a courtside interview. “I really had to wake up in the second set.
“In the second set, I felt I was determined, more focused and taking more opportunities.”
|Rafael Nadal after his win
Nadal’s next match is against his countryman Tommy Robredo, who pulled off a shock straight-sets win over Roger Federer that ended the prospect of a first US Open showdown between the two greatest players of their generation.
Nadal was in great form in the lead-up to the last major of the year, winning Masters titles in Montreal and Cincinnati, and has continued his red-hot streak at Flushing Meadows.
Frenchman Gasquet survived a barrage of heavy shots from Canada’s Milos Raonic before booking a spot in the quarters on Monday.
Raonic thumped 39 aces past Gasquet but the eighth-seed waited patiently before seizing his opportunities, winning 6-7(4), 7-6(4), 2-6, 7-6(9), 7-5 after an exhausting slugfest that lasted four hours and 40 minutes. His opponent in the next round is Spanish fourth seed David Ferrer, who advanced after a hard-fought 7-6(2), 3-6, 7-5, 7-6(3) win over Serbia’s Janko Tipsarevic. “It’s a good court. I don’t mind,” Ferrer said.
Earlier, Daniela Hantuchova advanced to the quarters for the first time in more than a decade.
The 30-year-old Hantuchova had not reached the last eight in New York since she was a teenager in 2002 but made up for lost time with a 6-3, 5-7, 6-2 victory over American wildcard Alison Riske.
“I guess the best things happen when you don't expect them,” said Hantuchova. “(I was) just fighting like crazy, really leaving everything I’ve got on the court, really putting my heart into it because it means so much to me.
“I guess, sometimes you keep trying, keep trying, and then you don’t know why, but it just comes all together.”
Meanwhile, Italy have guaranteed a semi-finalist after Flavia Pennetta and Roberta Vinci won their fourth round matches to face each other in a quarter-final.