| Victoria Azarenka, during her match against Daniela Hantuchova, on Thursday |
New York: After Roger Federer's shock exit, it was defending champion Andy Murray's turn to be shown the door at the US Open.
Murray, the third seed, was handed a crushing straight sets defeat — 4-6, 3-6, 2-6 — by ninth-seeded Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka, on Thursday.
On Wednesday, Victoria Azarenka struck a blow for the younger generation by beating Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia 6-2, 6-3 to join a trio of 31-year-olds in the semi-finals.
The 24-year-old Belarusian, the second seed and runner-up last year, will play unseeded Italian Flavia Pennetta, while defending champion Serena Williams meets Li Na of China in Friday’s semi-finals.
Pennetta reached her first Grand Slam semi-final on Wednesday by beating long-time friend and Fed Cup teammate Roberta Vinci, the 10th-seeded 30-year-old, 6-4 6-1.
In women’s doubles quarter final on Thursday, Serena and Venus Williams beat top-seeded Italian pair of Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci 6-3, 6-1.
On the men’s side, second seed Rafael Nadal continued his remarkable 2013 form, improving his hard court record to 20-0 with a 6-0, 6-2, 6-2 hammering of fellow Spaniard Tommy Robredo.
Next up for Nadal is France’s Richard Gasquet, who will be playing in the semi-final stage of a Slam for the first time since Wimbledon in 2007.
Azarenka is well aware she is battling the ‘old guard’ in last four. “I’m a baby, what can I say?” she added. “It’s amazing to see such great players in the semi-finals.”
The victory moved Australian Open champion Azarenka one step closer to a possible Arthur Ashe Stadium rematch against Serena for the title.
“It’s amazing to see athletes doing so well, their careers longer so fans and themselves can enjoy their careers much better,” she said.
Eighth-seeded Gasquet booked his long awaited return to the last four of a men’s Slam with a 6-3, 6-1, 4-6, 2-6, 6-3 upset of fourth seed David Ferrer of Spain.
It was the second successive five-setter for the 27-year-old Gasquet, who clinched the concluding set of a marathon fourth-round match against big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic 7-5.