NEW YORK -- No. 1 Novak Djokovic defeated No. 9 Andy Murray 7-6 (1), 6-7(1), 6-2, 6-4 to advance to his eighth consecutive U.S. Open semifinal. The grueling affair finally ended after 1 a.m. after three hours and 32 minutes of play. Djokovic will play No. 11 Kei Nishikori, who defeated No. 4 Stan Wawrinka in five sets earlier in the day, on Saturday.
Djokovic started quickly, racing out to a 4-1 lead before Murray was able to find his range and break back to eventually force a tiebreak. Djokovic played a clean tiebreaker to pocket the first set but again squandered a break lead in the second. The Murray forehand came alive in the second set, as he began to find his range and hit for bigger and flatter strokes to take control of the rallies. The turning point came in the fifth game of the third set. With Djokovic serving at 3-1, Murray earned two break points to get back on serve but hit two unforced errors to let the opportunities slide by. Djokovic went on to hold out the set and the physicality of Murray's effort caught up with him in the final frame. He complained of being heavy-legged throughout the match and had to use heat packs to loosen up his back in the fourth set. Murray, who came into the match having spent 3.5 hours more time on court than Djokovic, simply didn't have much left in the tank to push it to five sets.
After enduring a tough physical training block after Wimbledon, Murray said he was disappointed with how his body failed him. "Playing against the No. 1 in the world and the way that we play against each other, it's just an extremely physical match," Murray said. "Both of us do a lot of running. Yeah, maybe I'll gain a lot from playing a match like today. Because it doesn't matter how much training you do, when you get on the match court it's different. I can't practice with the best player in the world, so it's tough to practice at that intensity."
As for Djokovic, he's finding his best form just in time. He came into the tournament having won just two matches since his Wimbledon triumph. "I was aiming to play my best tennis in US Open, and I knew that's going to happen," he said. "I mean, I was believing it's going to happen, and I'm really glad that I'm in another semifinal here, you know, tough draws, some tough players that I played against. Of course as the tournament progresses I'm trying to gather together as much confidence as I can. Winning against Andy in a Grand Slam is definitely a confidence boost, and hopefully I can use it for the next match."