Wozniacki set to meet Peng for US Open final

Wozniacki set to meet Peng for US Open final

NEW YORK - Agence France-Presse / Reuters
Wozniacki set to meet Peng for US Open final

Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark hits a return to Sara Errani of Italy during their US Open 2014 men's singles match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Center Sep. 3. AFP Photo

Former world number one Caroline Wozniacki and first-time Grand Slam semifinalist Peng Shuai will meet for a place in the US Open title match after dominant victories on Sept. 2.

Wozniacki, the runner-up at Flushing Meadows in 2009, dismissed 13th-seeded Italian Sara Errani 6-0, 6-1 and is back in the semi-finals of a major for the first time since the 2011 US Open.

China's Peng, in the quarterfinals of a major for the first time in her 37th attempt, made similarly short work of Swiss teen Belinda Bencic 6-2, 6-1.

Peng joined two-time Grand Slam champion Li Na and Zheng Jie as the only Chinese to reach the last four of a Grand Slam.

“Thirty-seven times Grand Slam,” Peng said, then had to stop the thought as she struggled to contain her emotions after taking apart Bencic in just 64 minutes.

“It's a little bit too exciting,” she said. “I love tennis, I love to play, but it's a long time, the career. It's tough. Sometimes I've thought to give up and stop playing because I don't know if I can make it or not.
“My coach and my parents always told me to fight and not give up -- that today was coming.”

Wozniacki was similarly convincing on a windy night on Arthur Ashe Stadium court, where towels from the players' chairs and stray plastic bags had to be corraled.

“It was really tricky conditions with the wind but I tried to stay aggressive,” Wozniacki said, calling the opening game “very important.”

“You always go out there and are a little bit nervous. I served really well after that.”    

Blockbuster game

In men’s competition, five-time champion Roger Federer set-up a US Open quarterfinal blockbuster against eccentric French star Gael Monfils on Sept. 2 as the hugely-hyped new generation once again flopped.

Second seed Federer reached his 10th US Open quarterfinal in the last 11 years with a comfortable 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 win over Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut while Monfils, the 20th seed, reached his second New York last-eight stunning seventh-seeded Grigor Dimitrov 7-5, 7-6 (8/6), 7-5.

Federer, the 17-time major winner, leads Monfils 7-2 in career meetings, including their last clash in Cincinnati last month.

“It was a tough three-setter in Cincinnati,” said Federer.

“Gael has been playing some great tennis, he’s always very entertaining. I’m sure we’ll see lots of retrieving by him and attacking by me.”

Federer was barely troubled by Bautista Agut, the 17th seed who was trying to make a Grand Slam quarter-final for the first time.

He broke in the third and fifth games for a 4-1 lead and despite surrendering one of the breaks in the eighth game, two successive aces sealed the opening set and there was no looking back for the 33-year-old.

Crowd favorite Monfils overcame a dramatic loss of composure in the second set to reach his second US Open quarter-final, four years after his first.

“It’s my first ever win on the Ashe stadium which is great,” said Monfils, who turned 28 on Sept. 1 and whose best performance at a major remains his run to the semifinals at the 2008 French Open where he was defeated by Federer.

“I love to play in New York. There is so much energy and it helps me deliver my game.”

Wimbledon semifinalist Dimitrov was hoping to reach his third quarterfinal at the majors this year but despite occasional breath-taking shot-making, he was undone by 38 unforced errors.

Czech sixth seed Tomas Berdych reached the quarter-finals with a 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 win over Austria’s Dominic Thiem.

Berdych, a semi-finalist in 2012, saved seven break points in the first set against the 20-year-old Austrian, but it was plain sailing after that mini-scare as he wrapped up victory in just 98 minutes.

He will next tackle Croatia’s Marin Cilic for a place in the semi-finals after the 14th seeded Croatian reached his third US Open quarter-final with a 5-7, 7-6 (7/3), 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 win over France’s Gilles Simon.