Five-time champion Roger Federer completed the men’s quarterfinal lineup at the U.S. Open, where five of the top eight seeds are seeking semifinal spots.
Only one of the top eight women’s seeds remain at the season’s final Grand Slam tournament, as Peng Shuai and Caroline Wozniacki won yesterday to secure semifinal spots.
Federer, the men’s No. 2 seed from Switzerland, was a 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 winner over 17th-seed Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain last night at the National Tennis Center in New York. It was Federer’s 71st victory at the U.S. Open, tying him with Pete Sampras and Bill Tilden for the fifth-most in tournament history, and came after Gael Monfils, Marin Cilic and Tomas Berdych also advanced to the quarterfinals.
“I was happy I was able to control the match,” Federer said in a televised on-court interview in Arthur Ashe Stadium. “I’m hoping I can keep it up.”
China’s Shuai beat 17-year-old Belinda Bencic 6-2, 6-1 to reach the semifinals for the first time in 37 career appearances in Grand Slam tournaments. Only five women made their first trip to the final four of a major later in their careers. Peng, 28, next faces 10th-seeded Wozniacki of Denmark, who rolled past No. 13 Sara Errani of Italy 6-0, 6-1 in last night’s final match on Ashe.
“It’s been a pretty up and down year for me,” said Wozniacki, who last made the final four of a major at the 2011 U.S. Open. “To be here in the semifinals of the U.S. Open, it’s an incredible feeling. Definitely hard work pays off.”
Top seed Serena Williams of the U.S., the two-time defending champion, will also face an Italian opponent today as she seeks a return to the semifinals. Williams, the only player left among the top nine seeds in the women’s draw, faces No. 11 Flavia Pennetta in the first night match on Ashe.
Williams has a 5-0 record against Pennetta, losing only one set in those matches, and has yet to drop a set through the first four rounds at this year’s U.S. Open.
Victoria Azarenka, the No. 16 seed from Belarus, plays 17th seeded Ekaterina Makarova of Russia in today’s other women’s quarterfinal match.
The first two spots in the men’s semifinals will also be filled today, as top seed Novak Djokovic of Serbia meets No. 8 Andy Murray of Britain in a clash of former champions. Djokovic won the U.S. Open in 2011, with Murray claiming his first Grand Slam title in New York the following year.
Djokovic has a 12-8 career record against Murray, including a 3-2 mark in Grand Slams.
Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka, the men’s No. 3 seed from Switzerland, faces No. 10 Kei Nishikori in today’s other men’s match. Nishikori, the first Japanese man to reach the quarterfinals in 92 years, is coming off a five-set win over Milos Raonic that tied the U.S. Open record for the latest finish in tournament history. Wawrinka won both of their former meetings in straight sets.
Federer, who joins Jimmy Connors, Andre Agassi, Ivan Lendl and Sampras as the only players to reach the U.S. Open quarterfinals at least 10 times, will face Monfils tomorrow for a semifinal spot. The No. 20 seed from France, Monfils was a 7-5, 7-6 (8-6), 7-5 winner over seventh-seeded Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, who lost match point on a double fault.
“He’s got easy top 10 potential,” Federer said of Monfils. “He’s a great mover. He’s got a wonderful serve, really, which nobody really talks about because of his athletic movement which stands out so much.”
Monfils advances to a Grand Slam quarterfinal for the fifth time in his career, and second this year after he was eliminated in the round of eight at the French Open. He has a 2-7 career record against Federer.
“When you have this chance, it’s why I play tennis, to go against a big legend, big court, short time,” Monfils, who doesn’t currently have a coach, said when asked about Federer. “That’s what I train for. That’s why every day I wake up and I wish I could play those matches, you know. For me it’s the best thing can happen is to play against that guy on that stage.”
Cilic, the 14th seed from Croatia, pulled out a five-set win yesterday over No. 26 Gilles Simon, breaking the Frenchman’s serve to take control with a 4-3 final-set lead.
Cilic lost all four of their previous matches, including two that went to five sets. The temperature hit 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 Celsius) in Flushing, New York, with 50 percent humidity. It can be as much as 10 degrees hotter on the court, and the National Weather Service issued an air quality alert for the area yesterday afternoon.
“It was an amazing victory,” Cilic said after his 5-7, 7-6 (7-3), 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 win. “We started the match and it was very hot. You don’t know how long the match is going to be. I knew that Gilles, he likes tough conditions. He’s a grinder, counterpuncher. Mentally I was there. That made a huge difference for me to build up the game in the last set.”
Cilic, who also reached the U.S. Open quarterfinals in 2009 and 2012, next faces sixth-seeded Berdych of the Czech Republic. Berdych cruised to a 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 victory last night over 20-year-old Dominic Thiem of Austria, who was the youngest player left in the men’s draw.
Top-ranked junior CiCi Bellis, who won a match last week in the main tournament, lost in the second round of the girls draw. Her 7-6 (11-9), 2-6, 6-1 loss to unseeded Russian Natalia Vikhlyantseva came six days after the 15-year-old American grabbed the spotlight in New York, becoming the youngest person in 18 years to win a singles match when she upset No. 12 seed Dominika Cibulkova.