Stan Wawrinka never envisaged making a meal of his quarter-final match against an almost underactive Kevin Anderson on Day 10 of the US Open.
The South African, who needed four sets to shock third seed Andy Murray on Tuesday, looked to have expended all in his tank to reach his first Grand Slam quarter-final and locking horns with an 11-time quarter-finalist, against whom he; despite trying to impose his big serving expertise – coming up with 12 aces – could only get 57% of his first serves in while Wawrinka feasted on his returns with a whooping 68% to 37% of Anderson’s.
“I was trying to be really aggressive on the return and make him play a mix or some slice, some aggressive play from the baseline,” Wawrinka said.
Fifth seed Petra Kvitova was up a set and a break but gave away too many points on her own serves in the second set to allow Italian Flavia Pennetta race away with 11 of the remainder 14 games, as well as a second berth (since 2013) in the last 4 in New York.
The other women last-8 tie saw Simona Halep overcome Victoria Azarenka, but there has yet to be that man who will take a set off Roger Federer at this year’s championship.
None other pear had spent up to 4 hours and 19 minutes in the singles match in Flushing Meadows prior to Anderson-Murray, and the former appeared still in a recovery mode while combating two-time majors winner Wawrinka in Louis Armstrong Stadium in Wednesday rescheduled match – due to weather condition.
The 15th seed’s double-fault count of nine did not enhance his chances against an opponent who rather kept his down to two and converted 5 of 8 openings.
The Swiss broke the 29-year-old in the seventh game of the first set and held for set point, but dropped an ensuing deuce game when he sent a backhand long, before closing it out under 40 minutes.
The second set went with serves until the ninth game when Anderson could not return a Wawrinka backhand winner on his serve, with the fifth seed claiming the remainder eight games to advance 6-4 6-4 6-0 in less than two hours.
Indeed, Anderson won just five points during the 25-minute third set and raked in 25 unforced errors, to Wawrinka’s 15 throughout.
“Obviously wasn’t meant to be today. Stan didn’t make it easy. He was taking time, I felt, away from me. He was swinging out, and, you know, I was just a step slow,” Anderson, who despite his defeat, took away the fifth annual US Open Sportsmanship Award, said.
“It’s a very tough lesson for me today and, you know, it’s difficult not to think about it, but obviously I have got to take what I can. This week has been a great week for me, the last two weeks. There is a lot of positives.”
The win set up another all-Swiss semi-final, where Wawrinka will be seeking for his first hard-court win over his countryman, against whom he has shared two of their head-to-head matches this year (both on clay). Federer leads their all-time head-to-head 16-3.
The 30-year-old Laussane native also secured his place in this year’s ATP World Tour Finals for the third consecutive year with his victory ove Anderson.
He becomes the fourth player after Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray, who are rest assured of a place in the elite eight-man field in London’s O2 Arena, beginning on 15 through to 22 November.
Fed marching on to 18
Five-time winner Federer was in some brilliant form in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Tuesday as he dominated Frenchman Richard Gasquet 6-3 6-3 6-1 to advance into the last 4 of the US Open for a tenth time.
The 34-year-old never faced a break point, and aside being taking to deuce twice by the 12th-seeded Gasquet, posted an impressive 87% of points on his first serve, accompanied with 16 aces – the first; with which he opened proceedings.
“My serve worked very well,“ quipped Federer. “I felt the ball great [and] was able to get in a high percentage of first serves. I was able to stay aggressive and enjoy myself out there.”
The second seed has now won his last seven matches against Gasquet, and in doing so splattered 50 winners and claimed 23 of his 28 approaches to the net.
Pennetta vying for maiden Grand Slam final
Pennetta is through to her second US Open semi-finals in three years after upsetting Czech woman and two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova 4-6 6-4 6-2 on Arthur Ashe.
The 26th seed immediately asserted control on the game, breaking Kvitova in the opening game, but the fifth seed immediately followed suit as both players traded initiatives with a total five break of serves and, one double faults in the first set.
Kvitova was the one who eventually had the last laugh when Pennetta double faulted while trailing 4-5.
The Italian broke for a 3-2 and 5-4 lead in the second set and swiftly moved to tie the match a set apiece. That was the first set Kvitova had surrendered this tournament.
Serving at 2-all in the decider, 25-year-old Kvitova was broken in the third game, and then handed out the remaining three games to concede her fourth defeat to Pennetta (head-to-head stands at 3-4 to Pennetta).
“I’m really happy right now,” said the 33-year-old Pennetta. “I was just trying to fight for every ball. I didn’t think I’d get through this match. In the second set, I was really in trouble. We played more than two hours, running everywhere.”
The Italian No. 2 moves on to face second seed Simona Halep who, despite a lengthy bathroom break and rain delay, outlasted Victoria Azarenka, 6-3 4-6 6-4.
Halep will be playing in her first US Open semis and her second in a Grand Slam, after reaching the last four at Wimbledon last year.
And with Pennetta’s countrywoman, Roberta Vinci, still up an alive in Flushing Meadwos, chances of an all-Italian showdown cannot be completely pushed aside at the moment.