Showing the growing discrepancy at the top of men’s tennis among the former “Big Four” players, world No. 2 Rafael Nadal took Roger Federer’s straight-sets conqueror to the woodshed on Wednesday, defeating No. 19 seed Tommy Robredo 6-0, 6-2, 6-2 in quarterfinal play at the US Open.
“I think I played my best match of the US Open this year,” Nadal said on court after the match.
Nadal remained 67 for 67 in service games held during the tournament, and improved to 7-0 career against Robredo.
“Obviously I felt that he was doing pretty good out there,” Robredo said regarding Nadal’s performance. “Not much to say. At the beginning, it was a little different for me. I started a little bit tight, and he was up very quick. Then it was nothing else to do. He was too good.”
Nadal next will meet surprise semifinalist and No. 8 seed Richard Gasquet, who abandoned his folding-chair routine late in Slams to tough out a 6-3, 6-1, 4-6, 2-6, 6-3 win over No. 4-seeded grinder David Ferrer.
“I don’t want to say I lost all the time in the fifth set because I won against [Andy] Roddick in quarter in Wimbledon,” said Gasquet, defending his miserable career record in Slams. “Two days ago I won in five set too. It’s true I lost sometimes too. But always difficult for me when you are losing this kind of match, especially when your are winning, 5-2 in the fifth, I really wanted to close that match to win, because it’s Ferrer, center court in US Open, so it’s a big chance for me to go in semis.”
Gasquet is 0-10 career against Nadal, but has twice taken sets off the Spaniard on hardcourts at tour events.
“I will try to go in this match to win,” Gasquet said. “If not, don’t go on the court. But I know he’s the favorite of the match. Nobody will say I’m the favorite. But, yeah, I want to play a big match.”
In women’s quarterfinal play on Wednesday, No. 2 Victoria Azarenka rolled past unseeded Daniela Hantuchova 6-2, 6-3, while unseeded Flavia Pennetta upset No. 10-seeded countrywoman Roberta Vinci 6-4, 6-1 in an all-Italian match-up.
Hantuchova went up an early break in the second set on Azarenka, but did not have the power and ability to end points from the baseline to keep up with the world No. 2.
“It was a little bit tricky with the wind, and Daniela is the kind of player who doesn’t give you rhythm, so you have to try to make it happen in one or two shots in the beginning,” Azarenka said. “There weren’t many long rallies, which can make it difficult to get into the match, but I felt like I was really good in the important moments. I raised my level when I needed to, which was the key to this match.”
Azarenka will next face Pennetta in the semis, with the two tied 1-1 in their career head-to-head matches.
“She’s a very good player, an all-around player,” Azarenka said of Pennetta. “She can do anything. She has great touch, great variety, she can create power, create spin. She’s also very experienced and has been in the Top 10, and beaten a lot of Top 10 players…Her ranking doesn’t matter. It’s about the moment right now, and she’s playing terrific tennis.”
Pennetta will be appearing in her career-first Grand Slam semifinal at age 31.
“My serve was working really well today, so that helped me a lot,” Pennetta said. “And it was really difficult to play Roberta too — it’s never easy to play against one of your best friends on the tour, of course. But this is life. I just played my tennis and everything worked out really well for me.”
Thursday in Flushing Meadows will feature some top singles and doubles play with (3) Andy Murray vs. (9) Stanislas Wawrinka, and (1) Novak Djokovic vs. (21) Mikhail Youzhny squaring off in men’s quarterfinal action, and doubles featuring (1) Bob/Mike Bryan vs. (4) Leander Paes/Radek “The Worm” Stepanek, and (1) Sara Errani/Roberta Vinci vs. Serena/Venus Williams.
“We practice a lot together,” Wawrinka says of Murray. “We have had some great battles when we play each other. It’s usually a tough match, but I like to play him. I like his game. I think if I start well, if I stay with him, I can have some good chance to do something.”
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