Upstart Raducanu, dominant Djokovic through to U.S. Open semifinals
Djokovic now 2 wins away from achieving calendar-year Grand Slam
Emma Raducanu came to Flushing Meadows for her second Grand Slam tournament ranked so low that she needed to go through qualifying rounds just to get into the main draw. She's just 18, so new to all of this, and yet no one has figured out a way to stop her.
Not even take a set off her.
Showing off the shots and poise of someone much more experienced, the 150th-ranked Raducanu became the first qualifier to get to the U.S. Open semifinals in the professional era — and, remarkably, the second teen in two days to secure a spot in the final four — by eliminating Tokyo Olympics gold medallist Belinda Bencic 6-3, 6-4 on Wednesday.
"To have so many young players here doing so well — it just shows how strong the next generation is," said Britain's Raducanu, who joins Canada's Leylah Fernandez, 19, in the semifinals. "Everyone's on their trajectory. ... It's my own journey at the end of the day."
And what a ride she is on at the moment.
Raducanu won all 16 sets she has contested through eight matches over the past 1 1/2 weeks — three during the qualifying rounds and another five in the main draw. She next will face No. 17 seed Maria Sakkari of Greece, a semifinalist at this year's French Open, on Thursday for a spot in the final.
Sakkari beat fourth-seeded Karolina Pliskova 6-4, 6-4.
The 26-year-old never made it past the fourth round in 20 appearances at major tournaments until getting to the final four at the French Open in June. She's now equaled that showing and become the first Greek woman to make it this far at the U.S. Open.
Sakkari never faced a break point Wednesday night and wound up with nearly twice as many winners, 23, as unforced errors, 12. She eliminated 2019 U.S. Open champion Bianca Andreescu of Canada in the previous round.
Pliskova is a former No. 1 and two-time major runner-up, including at Wimbledon in July.
The other women's semifinal will be the 73rd-ranked Fernandez against No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka.
WATCH | Raducanu defeats Bencic to reach semifinals:
In women's doubles, Gaby Dabrowksi joined fellow Canadians Fernandez and Felix Auger-Aliassime in reaching the semifinals at the tournament. Dabrowksi and her Brazilian partner Luisa Stefani defeated the Czech duo of Marie Bouzková and Lucie Hradecká 6-4, 4-6, 6-1.
The pair will next face either Su-Wei Hsieh and Elisa Mertens or Coco Gauff and Caty McNally.
Dabrowski and Stefani hope to make their first final at a Grand Slam.
WATCH | Dabrowski advances to semifinals in women's doubles:
Djokovic advances to face streaking Zverev
Novak Djokovic will take his Grand Slam bid into the U.S. Open semifinals.
Djokovic beat Matteo Berrettini 5-7, 6-2, 6-2, 6-3, moving two victories from becoming the first man to win all four majors in the same year since Rod Laver in 1969.
No opponent, or the prospect of what's at stake, has been too much to handle. Not yet, anyway. And now he's two wins away from the first calendar-year Grand Slam in men's tennis since 1969, along with a men's-record 21st major championship overall.
Just as he did in the Wimbledon final, Djokovic had no problem turning around the match against the No. 6-seeded Italian after dropping the first set.
Making almost every service game difficult for the No. 6 seed, Djokovic accumulated 16 break points, converting five.
"The best three sets I've played in the tournament, for sure," Djokovic said.
Djokovic is 26-0 in major tournaments this season, including trophies on the Australian Open's hard courts in February, the French Open's clay courts in June and Wimbledon's grass courts in July.
He will play No. 4 seed Alexander Zverev, who beat Djokovic last month in the semifinals of the Olympics.
"I'm pumped," Djokovic said, looking ahead to what awaits. "The bigger the challenge, the more glory in overcoming it."
Zverev, the 24-year-old from Germany, saved a set point in the opener and wound up beating unseeded Lloyd Harris 7-6 (6), 6-3, 6-4.
WATCH | Canada's Fernandez reaches the U.S. Open semifinals:
Harris broke to lead 5-3 in the first set and served for the set but got broken. Then in the tiebreaker, he held a set point at 6-5 but he missed a forehand and dropped the next two points, too, to cede the set.
Zverev then took leads of 3-0 in the second set and 4-0 in the third.
The 46th-ranked Harris, a 24-year-old from South Africa, had eliminated three seeded opponents — No. 7 Denis Shapovalov, No. 22 Reilly Opelka and No. 25 Karen Khachanov — to reach his first Grand Slam quarter-final.
The No. 4-seeded Zverev will take a 16-match winning streak into his semifinal match.