Kei Nishikori makes history and Ekaterina Makarova cruises on Day 10
NEW YORK -- Day 10 of the U.S. Open saw two upsets, with Ekaterina Makarova getting the best of Victoria Azarenka, and Kei Nishikori making history.
Kei Nishikori recovers, beats No. 4 Stan Wawrinka, and makes history: The No. 10 seed became the first Japanese man since 1918 to advance to the semifinals of a Slam when he recovered from his 2:26 a.m. finish just 36 hours ago on Tuesday night to beat Wawrinka 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7), 6-7 (5), 6-4 in more than four hours on court. Nishikori has had the reputation of being physically fragile, too humble in his ambition, and -- this a curse word in sports -- too soft to fight through tough matches.
Yet there he was, managing his emotions and his energy levels, taking Wawrinka to five sets and it was the Australian Open champion who blinked. Serving at 4-5 in the final set, Wawrinka fell behind 15-40 and finally lost the match when he put in a nervous second serve before hitting an even more nervous forehand that let Nishikori take control of the point for the win. The win will put Nishikori back into the top ten and he will play either Novak Djokovic or Andy Murray in the semifinals. But first, rest. With the men's semifinals being played on Saturday, Nishikori will have two days to recover from over eight hours of tennis in the last 48 hours.
Novak Djokovic fends off Andy Murray to advance to the semifinals: The No. 1 seed took more than three hours into the early morning on Thursday to take down No. 8 seed Murray. You can find an in-depth look and analysis on the match here.
Ekaterina Makarova handles Victoria Azarenka to make her first Slam semifinal: The 17th seed never blinked and never wavered, as she coolly dispatched of two-time defending finalist Azarenka 6-4, 6-2 to advance to the semifinals. The 26-year-old from Russia -- and Steffi Graf doppelganger -- has not lost a set heading into the semifinals, after beating Eugenie Bouchard in the fourth round in straight sets as well. Shy and good-humored, Makarova is letting her tennis do the talking. She's also in the women's doubles semifinal after she and partner Elena Vesnina beat Serena and Venus Williams on Tuesday.
The win means there will be no U.S. Open final rematch between Serena Williams and Azarenka in the semifinals, which may be for the best. Azarenka, understandably, was nowhere near her the top of her game this tournament, needing three sets to get past Misaki Doi in the first round and No. 145 Aleksandra Krunic in the fourth round. After the loss on Wednesday, Azarenka's PR manager told reporters she had been suffering from food poisoning and did not practice on Tuesday. Azarenka confirmed she was ill but refused to talk about it any further. But context is context, and this was a great tournament for her. To make the quarterfinals without playing to her potential leaves her in good stead for the rest of the season. She'll likely fall outside the top 20 to No. 24 after this tournament, but has little to defend for the rest of the season. Her charge up the rankings should be fun to watch.
Serena Williams advances to the semifinals: After a slow start, Williams won six straight games and rolled to a 6-3, 6-2 win over Flavia Pennetta. She still has yet to come close to losing set this tournament.
Photo of the day
Video of the day
This is a one-in-a-million net-cord:
Quote of the day
Azarenka after her loss to Makarova: "How do you think somebody will answer a question like that? Of course it is disappointing. It's not about that you have been two times in the final before that's going to make it better. It just is what it is today. It's not the end of the world. It's something I can take positive from this tournament, you know. Two months ago I didn't even think that I was going to be able to play today. But, you know, trying to ask and put some kind of pressure like that with those questions I think is no point."
Tweets of the day
Azarenka's PR guy comes by to tell us that Vika had food poisoning yesterday, was vomiting, didn't practice. "No excuses," he adds. #usopen— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) September 3, 2014
I love that we have someone from Russia and someone from China in the semis, but not the ones who have Slams this year.— Lindsay Gibbs (@linzsports) September 3, 2014
Queens of the Stone Age: over on @TennisChannel Kimiko (Carbon) Date -almost 44- and Barbora Strycova (even the name says retro) are winning— Jon Wertheim (@jon_wertheim) September 3, 2014
Date-Krumm/Zahlavova Strycova advance to women's doubles semis to the dismay of scoreboard operators everywhere.— Naila-Jean Meyers (@NailaJeanMeyers) September 3, 2014
Azarenka gets broken, smashes racket, draws code violation and boos from Ashe crowd. Greatest heel in years.— Bryan Armen Graham (@BryanAGraham) September 3, 2014
@FortyDeuceTwits KID KEI— Hannah Wilks (@newballsplease) September 3, 2014