Novak Djokovic, at Flushing Meadows, on Tuesday
New York: Flavia Pennetta made her first Grand Slam semi-final, defeating 10th-seeded Roberta Vinci 6-4, 6-1 in an all-Italian quarter final, at the US Open, on Wednesday.
Pennetta, ranked 83rd, did not drop a set en route to the semis. She became the first Italian woman to crack the top 10 in the year 2009 and is on the comeback from surgery on her right wrist that forced her to miss a good part of the past season.
The 31-year-old has knocked out both Italian seeded players, adding this win to a second-round victory over No. 4 Sara Errani.
Top seeds Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic ruled supreme on Tuesday, sending ominous warnings to their rivals with dazzling, runaway victories over Spanish opponents.
Djokovic said he played some of his best tennis on the Arthur Ashe Stadium court in trouncing Marcel Granollers 6-3, 6-0, 6-0 and Serena could not have done better, handing Carla Suarez Navarro a 6-0, 6-0 beating at the National Tennis Center.
Dominant performances are not out of the ordinary for those rankings leaders but fifth-seeded Li Na provided something special by breaking another barrier for Chinese tennis.
The 31-year-old Li became China’s first semi-finalist ever at the US Open by beating Russian Ekaterina Makarova 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-2 at a windy Flushing Meadows.
Li pumped both fists in joy after 24th seed Makarova sailed a backhand long to end the two-hour, 20-minute match at Arthur Ashe Stadium as the crowd showered her with cheers.
“For me, this is the first time to come to the semi-finals, so I’m very proud of myself,” said Li, who looked about to claim victory in two sets after winning the first three points of the tiebreaker but was extended to a third set.
Other winners were also tested as defending men’s champion Andy Murray of Britain worked hard to get past 65th-ranked Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan, 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 and women’s second seed Victoria Azarenka over came Ana Ivanovic 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 to complete the women’s quarter final field.
“It was definitely tough. It’s pretty breezy out there. Quite a strong breeze. Both of us were struggling with our timing early on,” Murray said. “I thought we played some entertaining points. Sometimes when it’s windy like that, you get some fun points.”
“I just started trying to dictate the points. I tried to use my forehand a little bit more,” he added.
The lone upset by rankings was registered by ninth-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland, who ousted fifth seed Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 (6), 6-2.
Li will not have too long to revel in her achievement as the win set up a semi-final date with defending champion Serena.
“I played really good,” acknowledged the four-time US Open winner Serena after her 52-minute rout of Suarez Navarro. “I’m having a blast this week. For me, I have to stay in that moment of fun, but intensity, but calm. If I can try to do those three things, it works out.”
“Honestly she’s a great player,” said Serena, blaming windy conditions for the Spaniard’s plight on her 25th birthday.
“The conditions today were so tough. It was not her best tennis today.”
It was only the second love-love win in a US Open women’s quarter final dating back to 1968, and first since Martina Navratilova subjected Manuela Maleeva of Bulgaria to the embarrassment in 1989.
The 31-year-old Serena, aiming to become the oldest US Open women’s winner since tennis turned professional in 1968, has lost just 13 games in her five matches.
Djokovic moved into the quarters against Russia’s Mikhail Youzhny, who ended the magical run of 2001 US Open winner Lleyton Hewitt by escaping a 1-4 hole in the fourth set and a 2-5 strangle hold in the fifth for a 6-3, 3-6, 6-7(3), 6-4, 7-5 win.
Day ix Results
Novak Djokovic (1, Srb) bt Marcel Granollers (Esp) 6-3, 6-0, 6-0; Andy Murray (3, GBR) bt Denis Istomin (Uzb) 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-4, 6-4; Stanislas Wawrinka (9, Sui) bt Tomas Berdych (5, Cze) 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 (6), 6-2; Mikhail Youzhny (21, Rus) bt Lleyton Hewitt (Aus) 6-3, 3-6, 6-7 (3), 6-4, 7-5
Victoria Azarenka (2, Blr) bt Ana Ivanovic (13, Srb) 4-6, 6-3, 6-4
Serena Williams (1, US) bt Carla Suarez Navarro (18, Esp) 6-0, 6-0; Li Na (5, Chn) bt Ekaterina Makarova (24, Rus) 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-2
Alexander Peya / Bruno Soares (2, Aut / Bra) bt Jamie Murray / John Peers (GBR / Aus) 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-4; Leander Paes / Radek Stepanek (4, Ind / Cze) bt Aisam-ul Haq Qureshi / Jean-Julien Rojer (5, Pak / Ned) 6-1, 6-7 (3), 6-4
Sara Errani / Roberta Vinci (1, Ita) bt Anabel Medina Garrigues / Flavia Pennetta (16, Esp / Ita) 6-1, 7-5; Ekaterina Makarova / Elena Vesnina (2, Rus) bt Cara Black / Marina Erakovic (13, Zim / NZ) 5-7, 6-2, 6-4; Su-Wei Hsieh / Peng Shuai (4, Tai / Chn) bt Jelena Jankovic / Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (15, Srb / Cro) 6-4, 6-2
Andrea Hlavackova / Max Mirnyi (7, Cze / Blr) bt Kveta Peschke / Marcin Matkowski (4, Cze / Pol) 6-1, 6-2; Anabel Medina Garrigues / Bruno Soares (5, Esp / Bra) bt Lucie Hradecka / Frantisek Cermak (Cze) 6-4, 6-7 (3), 13-11; Abigail Spears / Santiago Gonzalez (US / Mex) bt Liezel Huber / Marcelo Melo (8, US / Bra) 2-6, 6-1, 11-9; Kristina Mladenovic / Daniel Nestor (Fra / Can) bt HaoChing Chan / Martin Emmrich (Tai / Ger) 7-6 (5), 6-3