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Murray overcomes poor tiebreaker, flubbed shot off opponent's 'tweener,' reaches US Open QFs

September 04, 2013
Murray overcomes poor tiebreaker, flubbed shot off opponent's 'tweener,' reaches US Open QFs

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Andy Murray shrugged off a poor first-set tiebreaker to beat Denis Istomin 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 on Tuesday to advance to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open for the third-straight year.

The defending champion came apart after leading 5-3 in the opening-set tiebreaker.

First, Istomin hit a forehand winner to close a 27-shot exchange. Then Murray, distracted before his service toss by a shout from the stands, double-faulted. A forehand into the net gave Istomin a set point and the Uzbek took the set when Murray pushed a backhand wide.

Istomin was broken right away in the second set and, aside from winning a point with a no-look between-the-legs shot in the last game, there were few highlights as the match was squared at one set all.

There was more shakiness from Murray in the third set, in which he went up a break, only to lose serve to make it 3-3. But he broke right back for a 4-3 edge, and was back on his way to a victory that improved his record over his past five Grand Slam tournaments to 30-2.

His opponent in the last eight will be Stanislas Wawrinka, who reached his second U.S. Open quarterfinal by eliminating Tomas Berdych 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 (6), 6-2.

Murray leads the head-to-head series against Wawrinka 8-5, but they've split their two previous meetings on the U.S. Open's hard courts: Murray won in 2008, and Wawrinka won two years later. Wawrinka also won their only match this season, 6-1, 6-2 on red clay at Monte Carlo in April.

"He's very tough. Very talented," Murray said. "We played once on this court when we were much younger. But a lot has changed since then."

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Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich


Roger that: Wawrinka hangs on to Switzerland's spot in US Open quarterfinals

September 03, 2013
Roger that: Wawrinka hangs on to Switzerland's spot in US Open quarterfinals

NEW YORK, N.Y. - The day after his Swiss compatriot Roger Federer was knocked out of the U.S. Open, Stanislas Wawrinka won 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 (6), 6-2 over fifth-seeded Tomas Berdych on Tuesday to make the quarterfinals at Flushing Meadows for the second time.

This is the fourth time he's advanced this far in a major, the last coming earlier this year at Roland Garros.

Wawrinka's win came in Armstrong Stadium about 24 hours after Federer's loss to Tommy Robredo knocked him out in the fourth round.

After dropping the first set, Wawrinka served five aces in each of the next two, including one down the middle to close out the third-set tiebreaker.


Love and love: Serena Williams win 1st 6-0, 6-0 US Open quarterfinal in 24 years; Li Na next

September 03, 2013
Love and love: Serena Williams win 1st 6-0, 6-0 US Open quarterfinal in 24 years; Li Na next

NEW YORK, N.Y. - From an ace on the first point to a stinging return on the last, Serena Williams was close to perfect in the U.S. Open quarterfinals on Tuesday and that was reflected in the 6-0, 6-0 scoreline against Carla Suarez Navarro.

Chasing her fifth title at Flushing Meadows, the No. 1-ranked defending champion recorded the first "double bagel" in a quarterfinal at the U.S. Open since 1989, when 18-time major title winner Martina Navratilova did it to Manuela Maleeva.

"When you play against Serena," Suarez Navarro said, "you know these things can happen."

Williams won 53 of 71 points and dominated the statistical categories. The first set took all of 19 minutes. The second was slower, lasting 33 minutes, but no less lopsided.

Williams was asked whether she'd describe her performance as close to flawless.

"Of course not," the defending champion said with a laugh. "I played good, though. I played really good. I was just more focused than anything. I like to believe there is room for improvement."

That might be bad news for her opponent in Friday's semifinals, 2011 French Open champion Li Na of China.

Through five matches, Williams has dropped a total of 13 games. Suarez Navarro lost more games than that in her previous match alone, 15, while eliminating No. 8 Angelique Kerber.

That victory, and her seeding, should have demonstrated that Suarez Navarro is quite capable of playing well, too. But not on this evening. Not against Williams, who is 65-4 with eight titles in 2013.

Going back to the start of Wimbledon last year, the 31-year-old American is 96-5 with 13 trophies, including from three of the past five Grand Slam tournaments plus the London Olympics.

"The conditions were so tough, so it definitely was not her best tennis today," Williams said about Suarez Navarro, who was playing in her third career major quarterfinal, and it was on her 25th birthday.

The swirling wind in Arthur Ashe Stadium sure did not appear to bother Williams, who had a 20-3 edge in winners. She made fewer unforced errors, 12-9. She won 23 of 26 points on first serves.

"I've been playing here for, like, 50 years," Williams said with a laugh. "I've kind of gotten used to the conditions. Even though it's difficult to play each year, I'm getting a little bit better with it."


No. 1 Novak Djokovic routs Marcel Granollers, reaches US Open quarterfinals

September 03, 2013
No. 1 Novak Djokovic routs Marcel Granollers, reaches US Open quarterfinals

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Showing the kind of beginning-to-end focus he'll need to win the U.S. Open, top-seeded Novak Djokovic strung together 13 straight games Tuesday to close out a 6-3, 6-0, 6-0 thrashing of Marcel Granollers and advance to his 18th straight Grand Slam quarterfinal.

"Today, second and third set have been some of the best tennis that I've played on Arthur Ashe in my career," said Djokovic, who has made the final here the last three years and won it in 2011.

"It all comes at a great time for me. It was something I was wishing to be more aggressive as the tournament progresses and to be able to stay committed to play every point, to win every point, regardless of the score."

The match took 79 minutes against Granollers, who was on court for nearly 3 1/2 hours two days before in a five-set win over Tim Smyczek.

"Even if I go three sets in the three matches before, is difficult to beat Nole," Granollers said. "It's a very difficult match for me."

Over the final two sets, Djokovic had embarrassingly large advantages in points (50-15) and winners (22-3), and he even won on 21 of 22 moves up to net, which isn't his normal style.

"That's one of the things on the practice agenda," Djokovic said.

It looked and felt like practice, with Granollers playing the part of the hitting partner.

He lost the first 25 points on Djokovic's serve. When he finally broke through, to make it 15-15 in the third game of the second set, the Spaniard acknowledged the win by lifting his index finger and signalling to his players' box.

"Nothing was working for me to even think I could have turned it around," Granollers said. "He was just too good."

Granollers only got 48 per cent of his first serves in, which took away any chance he had of making this a competitive match.

"That's too little playing against the number one in the world," he said.

Djokovic has spent a total of 5 hours, 42 minutes on court without dropping a set. He has lost more than three games in any single set only once, against Benjamin Becker, who actually had a pair of set points in the first set of their second-round match, but lost them both.

Djokovic's next opponent is Mikhail Youzhny, who will also be coming off a five-setter that lasted two minutes short of four hours.

"It's all coming together for me right now," he said. "I'm aware of the fact that as the tournament goes on I'm going to have bigger challenges, better quality players, higher ranked players, but I'm ready for that challenge. I look forward to it."


2001 champion Hewitt's rejuvenated run at US Open ends with 5-set loss to Youzhny in 4th round

September 03, 2013
2001 champion Hewitt's rejuvenated run at US Open ends with 5-set loss to Youzhny in 4th round

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Rejuvenated at age 32, Lleyton Hewitt was two points away from reaching the U.S. Open quarterfinals for the first time since 2006.

A champion at Flushing Meadows a dozen years ago, Hewitt could not close out Tuesday's five-setter against 21st-seeded Mikhail Youzhny in the fourth round.

"It's one of the hardest games to win — the last one," Hewitt said.

Dropping the last five games of the back-and-forth, nearly four-hour match, a fading Hewitt lost to Youzhny 6-3, 3-6, 6-7 (3), 6-4, 7-5.

How close was it? Hewitt won more total points, 146-145. Wearing his trademark backward-turned white baseball hat, he got within two points of winning at 5-2, then served for the match at 5-3.

"I left it all out there," he said. "There's not a whole heap more I could have done."

At 2-all in the fifth set, Hewitt tore some skin off his left elbow while diving to the court for a shot. After Youzhny won the point to get to 15-30 on Hewitt's serve, play was halted for a medical timeout while a trainer treated the bloody scrape on the Australian's arm.

Two-time major champion Hewitt had been 7-0 in fourth-round matches in New York, but he hadn't even been that far in seven years. A former No. 1-ranked player who is currently 66th after a series of foot and hip injuries, Hewitt last got to the quarterfinals of any Grand Slam tournament at Wimbledon in 2009.

Asked whether he could see himself still competing at the U.S. Open in three or four years' time, Hewitt shook his head and replied: "I don't know, mate. No idea."

Youzhny's best Grand Slam showings have come at Flushing Meadows, where he made the semifinals in 2006 and 2010 — and also lost in the first round each of the past two years.

The 31-year-old Russian will face No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals. Djokovic won 45 of 53 service points while eliminating 43rd-ranked Marcel Granollers 6-3, 6-0, 6-0 in a grand total of only 79 minutes Tuesday.

"First of all, I need to recover after this," Youzhny said, adding that it will be "really tough to beat" Djokovic.

"But you never know," Youzhny continued. "We will see."

He praised Hewitt as a "great, fighting player ... who is fighting every point, every match."

Every time it appeared one man or the other was pulling away, the other got right back into it.

Hewitt trailed by a set and a break before going ahead 2-1 in sets. Then he grabbed 11 of the first 12 points to start the fourth, going up 3-0 and 4-1. But Youzhny responded with a six-game run. In the fifth set, Youzhny broke in the first game by making a long sprint, then sliding wide of the doubles alley, for a backhand winner. Sticking to the match's pattern, Hewitt broke right back.

In 80-degree heat, two of 12 active men who have made it at least as far as the quarterfinals at all four major tennis tournaments appeared content to hang out at the baseline for lengthy exchanges, often slicing backhands or simply placing forehands in the middle of the court. Points would last 10, 20, 30 strokes.

"Obviously," Hewitt said, "could have gone either way."

With Hewitt serving for the win at 5-3, Youzhny earned a break point by stretching for a volley winner with both players up at the net. Hewitt then missed a backhand to make it 5-4. That was part of a stretch in which Youzhny took 12 of 13 points. When Hewitt pushed a forehand long to get broken again, Youzhny led 6-5, and there would be no more shifts.

Hewitt's renaissance at this tournament included a five-set, four-hour victory over 2009 U.S. Open champion and sixth-seeded Juan Martin del Potro in the second round.

"Took a lot out of me," Hewitt said.

That was the first time he had beaten a player ranked in the top 10 at Flushing Meadows since upsetting 14-time major champion Pete Sampras in the 2001 final.

Perhaps because of name recognition, Hewitt generally received more of the crowd's support at Louis Armstrong Stadium.

When Youzhny broke to 4-3 in the fourth set with a backhand winner, he held his arms wide and palms up and screamed, "Come on!"

"I understand. It was fine. The crowd was not against me. It was for Lleyton more," Youzhny said during an on-court interview.

Then, thanking those spectators who were pulling for him, Youzhny said, "Maybe your power gave me the chance to beat Lleyton today."

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Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich


Serena Williams win 1st 6-0, 6-0 US Open quarter-final in 24 years; Li Na next

September 04, 2013
Serena Williams win 1st 6-0, 6-0 US Open quarter-final in 24 years; Li Na next

NEW YORK, N.Y. - From an ace on the first point to a stinging return on the last, Serena Williams was close to perfect in the U.S. Open quarter-finals.

The score said it all Tuesday night: 6-0, 6-0.

Yes, Williams is looking better and better with each match at the year's last Grand Slam tournament. With two more wins — no matter the exact scores — she'll earn a fifth title at Flushing Meadows and 17th major championship overall.

The No. 1-ranked and No. 1-seeded Williams shut out 18th-seeded Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain, the first "double bagel" in a quarter-final at Flushing Meadows since 1989, when 18-time major title winner Martina Navratilova did it to Manuela Maleeva.

"When you play against Serena," Suarez Navarro said, "you know these things can happen."

Williams won 53 of 71 points and dominated pretty much every statistical category. The first set took all of 19 minutes. The second was slower, lasting 33 minutes, but no less lopsided.

Williams was asked whether she'd describe her performance as close to flawless.

"Of course not," the defending champion said with a laugh. "I played good, though. I played really good. I was just more focused than anything. You know, I like to believe there is room for improvement."

That might be bad news for her opponent in Friday's semifinals, 2011 French Open champion Li Na of China.

Asked in an on-court interview if her game is peaking, Williams replied: "No. Not yet. I hope not. I'm just trying to do the best that I can."

Through five matches, Williams has dropped a total of 13 games so far. For comparison's sake, know this: Suarez Navarro lost more games than that in her previous match alone, 15, while eliminating No. 8 Angelique Kerber.

That victory, and her seeding, should have demonstrated that Suarez Navarro is quite capable of playing well, too.

But not on this evening. Not against Williams, who is 65-4 with eight titles in 2013.

Going back to the start of Wimbledon last year, the 31-year-old American is 96-5 with 13 trophies, including from three of the past five Grand Slam tournaments plus the London Olympics.

"The conditions were so tough, so it definitely was not her best tennis today," Williams said about Suarez Navarro, who was playing in her third career major quarter-final Tuesday, which happened to be her 25th birthday.

Tough conditions, huh? That swirling wind in Arthur Ashe Stadium sure did not appear to bother Williams one bit. She wound up with a 20-3 edge in winners. She made fewer unforced errors, 12-9. She won 23 of 26 points on first serves.

"I've been playing here for, like, 50 years," Williams said with a laugh. "I've kind of gotten used to the conditions. Even though it's difficult to play each year, I'm getting a little bit better with it."

When Williams did face a break point for the first time, 42 minutes and 11 games into the match, she came up with a big serve and raced forward for a simple putaway that she punctuated with a yell.

Moments later came a second break chance, but even with Williams stumbling to the court, Suarez Navarro dumped the ball into the net.

It was that kind of night.

"She's the best player in the sport," Suarez Navarro said. "When you look at the draw, you don't want to see Serena there."

Before the match, picturing in her mind what it might be like to step out in the largest arena in Grand Slam tennis, under the lights at night, against Williams, Suarez Navarro came up with a couple of possible scenarios.

"I imagined a movie in which I won. I also imagined a movie in which I played well, but she ended up winning," she said. "I was dreaming so many things."

After their quick-as-can-be match, defending men's champion Andy Murray went into Ashe and encountered some problems along the way to a 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 victory over 65th-ranked Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan in the fourth round.

Ahead 5-3 in the opening tiebreaker, Murray dropped four points in a row. Serving for the second set at 5-1, Murray hit a volley-lob that Istomin tracked down and, back to the net, sent back with a between-the-legs shot. What should have been an easy tap-in winner became a flubbed volley, and Murray put his hand to his face. But he wound up taking that game, and was on his way to improving to 30-2 over his last five Grand Slam tournaments.

Next for Murray is a quarter-final against No. 9 Stanislas Wawrinka. A day after his Swiss Davis Cup teammate and friend, Roger Federer, lost, Wawrinka reached the round of eight at the U.S. Open for the second time by beating No. 5 Tomas Berdych, the 2010 Wimbledon runner-up, 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 (6), 6-2 in Louis Armstrong Stadium at night.

In the afternoon, top-seeded Novak Djokovic won 45 of 53 service points while eliminating 43rd-ranked Marcel Granollers 6-3, 6-0, 6-0 in a grand total of only 79 minutes.

Djokovic, who won the 2011 U.S. Open and lost in last year's final to Murray, reached his 18th consecutive major quarter-final.

Now comes a match against 21st-seeded Mikhail Youzhny, who was two points from defeat but came back to edge two-time major champion Lleyton Hewitt 6-3, 3-6, 6-7 (3), 6-4, 7-5.

All eight men's quarter-finalists are from Europe: Serbia's Djokovic, Britain's Murray, Switzerland's Wawrinka, Russia's Youzhny on one half of the draw, and Spain's Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer and Tommy Robredo, along with France's Richard Gasquet on the other half.

In mixed doubles quarter-finals, Toronto's Daniel Nestor and Kristina Mladenovic of France defeated Martin Emmrich of Germany and Hao-Ching Chan of Taiwan 7-6 (5), 6-3.

Earlier Tuesday, the fifth-seeded Li needed nearly 2 1/2 hours to get past 24th-seeded Ekaterina Makarova of Russia 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-2.

On three occasions, Li went up a break in the second set, nearing eventual victory each time, but could not finish things. She then was up 3-0 in the tiebreaker before faltering. Still, she recovered well and closed the match by taking the last four games, then joked that she would grab a bag of chips and enjoy watching Williams against Suarez Navarro.

Regardless of who she'd face next, Li made the point that what would be important is to focus on herself.

"I mean, if you only think about what (your) opponent (is) doing, of course you already lose the match before you come to the court," Li said. "For tennis you have to figure out what you have to do on the court, what you should do."

Li has only won one of nine career matches against Williams heading into Friday.

"Tough, tough opponent," Li said. "But is (a) good challenge to play against her."

The quarter-finals on the other half of the draw are Wednesday: second-seeded Victoria Azarenka of Belarus against 48th-ranked Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia, and 10th-seeded Roberta Vinci against 83rd-ranked Flavia Pennetta in a matchup between two Italians in their 30s.

While the other women in that section all advanced Monday, Azarenka's fourth-round match against 2008 French Open champion Ana Ivanovic was postponed until Tuesday at 11 a.m. because of rain. Azarenka got off to a slow start, but eventually got going and beat the 13th-seeded Ivanovic 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in a topsy-turvy match with a combined 16 service breaks and 17 double-faults.

"I think," two-time Australian Open champion Azarenka said, "we're just great returners."

Lamented Ivanovic: "I felt like I could break her, but it was very frustrating that I was losing my serve constantly."

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Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich


Canada's Raonic, World No. 1 Djokovic on Davis Cup collision course

September 03, 2013
Canada's Raonic, World No. 1 Djokovic on Davis Cup collision course

Canada's Davis Cup team is deep in talent. That depth will be needed to beat world No. 1 Novak Djokovic and Serbia on their home court in Belgrade.

Milos Raonic leads Canada into the World Group semifinal tie Sept. 13-15 on clay at the Belgrade Arena. The winning country moves onto the final in November against the winner of the other semifinal between Argentina and Czech Republic.

Canada has never made it this far in the international men's team tennis event that begins each year with 130 countries. Only 16 qualify for the World Group each year. Each tie consists of four singles matches and a doubles match.

"As a group we've gone through events and moments that are pretty uplifting and it's been a year where we've done a lot of things we've never done before and we want to continue to do that," Canada's captain Martin Larendeau said Tuesday during a conference call.

"We're really looking forward to the challenge and the chance to keep alive this great story we're going through."

Raonic, from Thornhill, Ont., is the highest-ranked male singles player in Canadian history at No. 11 in the world. He reached his first Masters final at last month's Rogers Cup in Montreal where he lost in straight sets to current world No. 2 Rafael Nadal of Spain.

Raonic, 22, advanced to the fourth round of the U.S. Open before falling in five sets to Richard Gasquet of France on Monday.

Djokovic is 3-0 in Davis Cup singles in 2013. He and Raonic have never met on the professional tour.

Frank Dancevic of Niagara Falls, Ont., doubles specialist Daniel Nestor of Toronto and Vancouver's Vasek Pospisil round out the Canadian squad.

Ottawa's Jesse Levine, Filip Peliwo of Vancouver and Toronto's Adil Shamasdin will also travel to Belgrade as part of an extended squad of players.

Serbia's Janko Tipsarevic is ranked No. 21 in men's singles and reached the third round of the U.S. Open.

Nenad Zimonjic, the No. 1 doubles player in the world in 2008, and Dusan Lajovic will also represent Serbia with Bogdan Obradovic as the team's captain.

The Canadians will fly to Belgrade later this week. They'll practise on clay courts in the city and start training on the competition surface Monday, Laurendeau said.

"It'll be a challenging surface to adapt to for both teams," he said. "The Serbs have also been playing on hard courts ever since Wimbledon and there's not much time to turn it around.

"We also know that we're playing indoors. Indoor tennis is always something we enjoy and we like. Even though it's clay, we still play in conditions where the ball will travel pretty well."

"At least that's something we look forward to and we'll see how the court is laid down when we go for practice on Monday morning."

Dancevic, 28, has been a Davis Cup regular for Canada since 2002. His three-set victory over Marcel Granollers gave Canada a 2-0 lead after the first day of February's tie against Spain.

A back injury sidelined him for April's quarter-final against Italy, but Dancevic qualified for the U.S. Open main draw and reached the second round for the first time in his career last week.

Pospisil, 23, is blazing a trail in singles this summer. He lost to Raonic in an all-Canadian semifinal at the Rogers Cup, which launched him into the top 40 in the world rankings. He has already begun hitting on clay in Florida in preparation for the Davis Cup, Laurendeau said.

Nestor and Pospisil reached the third round of the U.S. Open in their first Grand Slam together as a doubles team. Nestor, 40, is Canada's most decorated tennis player having won doubles titles in all four Grand Slams during his career, as well as an Olympic gold medal in 2000.

Laurendeau wasn't showing his hand on whether Pospisil or Dancevic will be his No. 2 singles player.

"The first thing is to go over there and see how everybody feels," he said. "They've got nine months of tennis in their bodies and we have to evaluate and make sure everyone is fit to go through this long weekend and be fit the play to four- or five-hour match.

"We can't jump the gun too quick. We'll have to assess when we get there."

Canada and Serbia will meet for the first time in Davis Cup competition. Serbia won their first World Group tie in 2010 en route to becoming the Davis Cup champion that year.

Serbia is currently ranked third in the International Tennis Federation rankings of Davis Cup countries, while Canada is No. 7.

"We had better ranked teams ahead of us when we took on Spain and Italy and we did well," Larendeau pointed out. "We're going in with the same perspective.

"Regardless on the rankings, Davis Cup is always tough conditions especially abroad. Whether we play the world No. 1 or the world number whatever, it's always a match that we try to prepare the best for and we give it all we have."


Rafael Nadal returns to Spain Davis Cup team for World Group playoff vs. Ukraine

September 03, 2013
Rafael Nadal returns to Spain Davis Cup team for World Group playoff vs. Ukraine

MADRID - Rafael Nadal will play Davis Cup for Spain next week for the first time since winning the 2011 final.

He will team with Tommy Robredo, Fernando Verdasco and Marc Lopez for the World Group playoff against Ukraine at Madrid's Caja Magica from Sept. 13.

Nadal last played for Spain in December 2011, when he won the fourth and final point of the Davis Cup final against Argentina in Seville, earning Spain its fifth title.

Nadal's absence has been due in part to a knee injury that sidelined him for seven months last season.

Spain captain Alex Corretja says on Tuesday it will be a pleasure to have Nadal back as he always spreads "vitality and optimism" to his teammates.


Berdych, Stepanek team up for champion Czech Republic for Davis Cup semis against Argentina

September 03, 2013
Berdych, Stepanek team up for champion Czech Republic for Davis Cup semis against Argentina

PRAGUE - Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek will team up for the first time this year for defending champion Czech Republic in next week's Davis Cup semifinal against Argentina.

Berdych, who faced Stanislas Wawrinka in the U.S. Open fourth round late Tuesday, missed the 3-1 quarterfinal victory at Kazakhstan due to an injury. And an injury prevented Stepanek from playing in the first-round 3-2 win at Switzerland.

Lukas Rosol, Jiri Vesely, Jan Hajek are also on the squad named on Tuesday for the Sept 13-15 tie on indoor hard court at Prague's O2 Arena.

Berdych and Stepanek played all five rubbers when the Czechs beat Spain 3-2 in the final last November in Prague.

In their last encounter with Argentina, the Czechs won 3-2 in Buenos Aires in the semis last year.


France's Richard Gasquet ousts Canadian Milos Raonic from 4th round of U.S. Open

September 03, 2013

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Canadian Milos Raonic almost made it to his first-ever Grand Slam quarter-final but fatigue got the best of him.

France's Richard Gasquet out-lasted Raonic 6-7 (4), 7-6 (4), 2-6, 7-6 (9), 7-5 on Monday in the fourth round of the U.S. Open.

Raonic, from Thornhill, Ont., hammered 39 aces and struck 102 winners, but it was not enough to hold off Gasquet during the closing stages of the four hour 40 minute marathon.

"He played better down the stretch than I did. I think that was pretty clear," said Raonic. "He created a lot more opportunities. I struggled a lot more on my service games.

"I think that's pretty much what it came down to. Playing that way in the end, it only matters who wins that last point."

The loss is only the fourth five-set match of Raonic's career. Montreal's Mike Belkin is the last Canadian to reach the final eight of a Grand Slam. He did it in the Australian Open in 1968.

Raonic matched his previous best at a Grand Slam. He'd made the fourth round in the Australian Open (2011, 2013) and the U.S. Open (2012).

Raonic missed on a match point chance in the fourth set on an error as Gasquet fought on to win an eventual tiebreaker and take the match into a deciding fifth set. The U.S. Open is the only Grand Slam tournament that does not play out the final set.

Raonic's legs were gone in the fifth set as he struggled to recover a break for 2-2 but losing his edge in the 11th game as he was broken from a weak forehand into the net on the first of three Gasquet chances to trail 5-6.

"I played a little bit too defensive," said Raonic. "That's really the only thing. You just need to convert on one of those chances, that's it."

Gasquet reached his second Grand Slam quarter-final a game later as Raonic returned long. He'll face Spain's David Ferrer in the next round of the U.S. Open.

The loss leaves Raonic at 32-16 on the season and 21-12 at Grand Slams.

Raonic had a battle in the opening set against Gasquet, whom he beat in their only previous match on Cincinnati hardcourt in 2012. He went down a break in the second game but got it back in the third.

Raonic pushed over two consecutive double-faults to lose serve after holding a set point in the tenth game, with Gasquet levelling at five apiece.

In the tiebreaker, Raonic finally prevailed to end the one-hour set on his second chance with a forehand winner to the corner. A frustrated Gasquet threw his socks onto the court at the changeover but retrieved them before the second set began.

Raonic dropped the tight second set in a tiebreaker but broke open his big game in the third set to sweep with the loss of just two games.

Gasquet profited from his opponent's ninth double-fault of the evening to earn a fourth set point that took it into a fifth set on a Raonic forehand to the net after more than three hours of play.