US Open 2015: Review Of Day 9

The defending champion Marin Cilic of Croatia was once again made to earn his spot in the semi-finals of the U.S. Open 2015 as he survived a spirited fightback from the French veteran Jo Wilfred Tsonga and won another grueling five set encounter on Arthur Ashe Stadium 6-4,6-4,3-6,6-7(3),6-4. Cilic was also taken to five sets by Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin in the round of 32. However he has an extra day to recover as the men’s semi-finals will be played on Friday.

Cilic started the match in fine form and continued his mastery of Tsonga and raced off to an imposing 2 set lead. Tsonga, on his part, was a notch below on the energy and athleticism scale as he seemed to be bothered by his knee. He had the trainer out to tape his left knee and get some medication to keep the pain in check. As the third set progressed, Cilic started getting tentative and with Tsonga lifting his game, the tide started shifting towards the French player.

Tsonga continued to ride his momentum, deep into the fourth set, as he fought off multiple match points to take the fourth set to a tie-break – which he won rather comfortably. Cilic started the fifth set by earning break points and pressuring the Tsonga serve. He kept the pressure up until it eventually led to a break and despite a few shaky moments, Cilic held on resolutely to book his second consecutive semi-final berth at the US Open.

His opponent will be the top seed and the 2011 champion Novak Djokovic who once again dropped a set but recovered from the concentration lapse to beat the last remaining Spaniard Feliciano Lopez 6-1,6-3,3-6,7-6(2). The world number One had also beaten another Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut dropping his first set of the tournament. Djokovic started the match in commanding fashion, brushing aside the Spaniard in the first set in just 26 minutes.

Lopez, to his credit, stayed committed to his Serve and Volley game plan – a rarity in the game today. Under relentless attack from Lopez’s serve and forehand, the No.1 seed showed his human side as he cracked under the assault to give the all-important break to the Spaniard. Though Djokovic kept hanging tough with Lopez and had break points in the 9th game of the set, Lopez made sure he edged past the finish line to capture his second set in the rivalry, spread over 6 matches, with the World No.1.

Djokovic, as he has been doing for the most part of this decade, raised his game and though he did not recapture his dominant form of the first set, did enough to keep the pressure on the weaker backhand wing of the Spaniard. With constant pressure on his serve games, Lopez coughed up the break in the third set and Djokovic soon made it 2 sets to 1. Through a combination of consistent attacking game from the Spaniard’s side of the net and some sloppy work from the Serbian’s side of the net, the 4th set stayed in balance until the tie-break. Djokovic raised his game to another level and won 7 of the last 9 points to close out the set and the match.

The quarter-final matches to be played on Day 10 with my pick mentioned first :-

Roger Federer (2) v. Richard Gasquet (12); Federer leads 14-2
Stanislas Wawrinka (5) v. Kevin Anderson (15): Anderson leads 4-3.

In the first match of the day, the Italian Roberta Vinci, who had a walkover in the round of 16 from Canada’ s Eugene Bouchard, beat the Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic 6-3,5-7,6 4 and will make her maiden appearance in the semi-finals at Flushing Meadows, New York on Thursday.

She will play the top seeded Serena Williams who only needs two more wins to become the first player since Steffi Graf in 1988 to complete the calendar slam. Serena won the Australian Open in January and later on won both the French Open and Wimbledon in the European summer and is also defending the title here. The six time champion started strongly against her elder sibling Venus, a two time U.S. Open champion, but once again dropped a set before winning 6-2,1-6,6-3 in the evening session.

It was the second meeting between the two this year, Serena also won at Wimbledon in straight sets and now leads her elder sister 16-11 in career meetings.The other two semi-finalists in the women’s singles will be decided today as the 2011 & 2014 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova clashes against another Italian Flavia Pennetta in the opening match of Day 10. They would be followed by the second seeded Romanian Simona Halep and the former world number one Victoria Azarenka of Belarus.

Azarenka, a two time Australian Open champion leads Halep 2-0 while Kvitova and Pennetta are tied at 3-3 in their career meetings. Azarenka v. Halep is a tough call but the second seeded Halep and the fifth seeded Kvitova should reach the last four.

– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy.You can reach him at the email: sportzcosmos@gmail.com]

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