Djokovic overcomes Murray to reach the US Open semi-finals

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Djokovic US Open 2014

The World no. 1 Novak Djokovic is still the man to beat at the US Open 2014 after prevailing in a heavyweight clash versus Andy Murray and extending the head-to-head lead to 13-8. The 2012 finalists struggled on serve during the early stages and were broken twice each before taking the first set to a tie-break – the battle became one-sided now as Novak surrendered just one point to wrap up the opener. The sell-out crowd at the Arthur Ashe Stadium was in for more of the same in the second set which again contained four breaks and the ensuing breaker – it was Andy’s time to shine on this occasion to get things back on level terms. However, the momentum was short-lived as the reigning Wimbledon champion broke in the fourth game of the following set and saved a pair of break back points to consolidate it – he restored his one set lead after stealing another serve. The eighth seed British athlete was holding a new break point in the beginning of the set four, but let it slip away again – he converted only four times in sixteen attempts – and was made to pay for it when serving to stay in the championship in the tenth game. One match point was all that Djokovic needed to book the semi-final spot after completing a 7-6 (1), 6-7 (1), 6-2, 6-4 victory.

Kei Nishikori, seed number ten, put in an extremely stable and agile display against third-seeded Stan Wawrinka whose game was too often marred by unforced errors. The excitement began straight away with the reigning Australian Open champion dismissing a break point in the opening game before converting in the second one for a 2-0 lead. He was then stretched to deuce when serving for the set, but bailed himself out with powerful first serves to move one nil ahead. Both athletes had their chances to break the deadlock midway through the set two – the Swiss, for example, needed to climb out of a 0-40 hole in the eighth game to still be on level terms at 5-5. He did not make it to a tie-break, though, as he gifted the rival a set point with a string of missed shots and ultimately gave away the set by double faulting in the decisive moment.

The real drama was yet to come in a rollercoaster of the third set where Kei squandered a set point at 5-2 before letting Wawrinka claw back in the subsequent game and it all came down to the breaker in the end. A set point on each side would be erased by a pair of practically identical backhand winners before the Japanese converted in his next attempt following Wawrinka’s error. The Swiss wasted the single break point of the set four and the New York crowd was in for a new tie-break, no less engaging than the previous one. Stan rallied to a 4-0 advantage, yet the unbreakable opponent fought back to get two points away from his debut Grand Slam semi-final at 5-5. He took a chance in the follow-up rally, but sent a backhand wide and the Swiss finished it off with a second serve winner. The players showed signs of tired legs in the decider, but continued to battle bravely. Stan’s serving was exceptional throughout the final set until needing to hold to stay in the tournament. The Japanese thus earned a double match point following the opponent’s double fault and got lucky the second time around for a 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7), 6-7 (5), 6-4 triumph.

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