World No. 1 Rafael Nadal made short work of Spanish countryman Fernando “Hot Sauce” Verdasco on Thursday night at the US Open, navigating the windy conditions in a 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 victory to bring him one win away from a blockbuster final against Roger Federer.
In the semifinals Nadal will face Russian workhorse Mikhail Youzhny, who outlasted Swiss Stan Wawrinka 3-6, 7-6(7), 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 in four hours earlier in the day.
Nadal’s serve was broken for the first time in the tournament against Verdasco in the first set. Nadal broke back for 4-all after two double-faults by Hot Sauce, then took control for the remainder of the match.
“Right now, for me, it’s a very, very nice feeling to be in semifinals for the third time in a row for one of the most important tournaments in the world,” Nadal said. “For me, probably right now, the most important.”
Nadal is trying to complete a career Grand Slam at age 24. The other Saturday semifinal will feature Federer against Novak Djokovic. Nadal has won his last 19 Grand Slam matches, and in Youzhny faces an opponent who beat him in the 2006 US Open quarterfinals, before he gets a shot at his Swiss nemesis.
“It’s another time, and I’m, like, another player,” Youzhny said of taking on Nadal. “I cannot say I am better player now, but it’s another time and other opponent, so everything can happen.”
Wawrinka remained conciliatory in defeat after wilting in the fifth.
“I think I give everything today, and I try I try, for sure,” the Swiss said. “I made some big mistake, but after four hours you’re really tired. I was tired. So it’s not always easy to think and to play the right dropshots or to play the good point and not to break the racquet. But, yeah, after the match, I just know that I try everything. I think he was just a little bit better today.”
Americans captured a title on Thursday when No. 1 seeds Liezel Huber and Bob Bryan won the US Open mixed championship, defeating the Czech/Pakistan pair of Kveta Peschke and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi 6-4, 6-4.
“He wants to chest bump, chest bump, chest bump,” Huber said of Bryan. “I’m like, no. Do it with your girlfriend; don’t chest bump me. No, just joking. No, we don’t chest bump. I’m just scared like I will hurt myself.”
On tap for Friday at the US Open are (1) Caroline Wozniacki vs. (7) Vera Zvonareva, (2) Kim Clijsters vs. (3) Venus Williams, the men’s doubles final in (1) Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan vs. (16) Rohan Bopanna/Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi, and the women’s doubles semifinal in (7) Yung-Jan Chan/Jie Zheng vs. (2) Liezel Huber/Nadia Petrova.
TENNIS-X NEWS, NOTES, QUOTES AND BARBS
The peace-promoting doubles team of India’s Rohan Bopanna and Pakistan’s Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi advanced to the US Open men’s doubles final, and watching their semifinal together in the stands were Hardeep Singh Puri and Abdullah Hussain Haroon, the Indian and Pakistani ambassadors to the United Nations. Bopanna, a Hindu, and Qureshi, a Muslim, have also joined the Monaco-based “Peace Through Sports” organization and want to organize an exhibition at a heavily-fortified border crossing between their countries…When U.S. Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe announced the line-up for this month’s tie against Colombia — Sam Querrey, John Isner, Mardy Fish and Ryan Harrison – it was assumed by some that the Bryan brothers, like Andy Roddick, took a pass on the tie. Turns out they were passed over by McEnroe, who has concerns about the U.S. players in Bogota’s high elevation and wants extra singles players over the virtually-guaranteed win of having the Bryans on the squad. “We had eight great years playing,” Mike Bryan told the Ventura County Star. “There are still many ties in the future. We love Davis Cup and we’re going to be supportive. We’d like to be down there, but we respect his decision. He’s made a lot of tough calls in the past. This may be another tough call he has to make.”…The iPad has been banned from the US Open, with personnel turning away fans who try to enter the grounds with them. Evil iPad! Fans can also use their smartphones to bet during matches, do those fans get kicked out? Dumbasses…Seven of the round of 16 were Americans in the US Open boys’ event…With that same block of teeth and smile and smart low-powered game, is Caroline Wozniacki just the reincarnation for former No. 1 Martina Hingis? Who is trying to make a tour doubles comeback but can’t find a partner? Kournikova!…Tennis writer James Causey: “First off, let me say this loud and clear. I’m not complaining, but doesn’t it seem as though the top tennis star’s outfits are looking more like something you would find in Victoria Secret when you’re shopping for your wife or girlfriend for the holidays? Caroline Wozniacki and Venus Williams have both been criticized lately for their attire…But I will toss this question out there. Are these outfits too racy?”…Police busted a ticket scalper near the will-call booth at Arthur Ashe Stadium with 339 US Open tickets worth more than $10,000 in his car and his pockets…ESPN commentator Brad Gilbert during the US Open coverage on the US Open multimedia offerings: “That’s just off the charts when you can get stuff sent to your phone — high tech!” — we’re guessing Brad’s phone is rotary?…25-year-old Marcos Baghdatis is reportedly ducking out of the Cyprus Davis Cup team to concentrate on regaining a Top 10 ranking.
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