US Open 2021: Novak Djokovic roars into semifinals, will face Alexander Zverev

·6-min read

We're getting closer and closer to the ultimate matches of the tournament. On Wednesday, we'll watch the final four matches of the quarterfinals and find out who will be joining Daniil Medvedev, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Aryna Sabalenka, and Leylah Fernandez in the semifinals. 

Check back here for updates on all the matches from Day 10 of the 2021 US Open.

Novak Djokovic follows familiar script to familiar place

For the third straight match, Novak Djokovic dropped his first set. For the third straight match, it ended up not mattering in the slightest.

The world No. 1 shook off a competitive first set to dominate No. 6 seed Matteo Berrettini in a 5-7, 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 win to advance to the semifinals. He will face the red-hot Alexander Zverev (see below) for a chance at cementing the first calendar Grand Slam since Rod Laver in 1969.

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Djokovic got off to a slow start in the first set and a late break left him in the familiar position of being down a set. He responded by basically playing perfect tennis for the rest of the match.

After committing 17 unforced errors in the first set, Djokovic posted only three in the second, three in the third and five in the fourth as he dominated Berrettiini.

While Djokovic's road hasn't been smooth, Zverev figures to present by far his toughest challenge of the tournament. The German reached his first career Grand Slam final at the US Open last year and captured Olympic gold in Tokyo last month. He has dropped only one set all tournament.

Maria Sakkari's serve dominates Karolina Pliskova

World No. 4 Karolina Pliskova is known for one of the most dominant serves in women's tennis. She set a US Open record earlier this tournament with 24 aces in a game. And yet, she had nothing on Maria Sakkari's serve on Wednesday.

Sakkari, the No. 17 seed in the tournament, defeated Pliskova 6-4, 6-4 to advance to her second career Grand Slam semifinal. She got there through sheer dominance in her service games.

Across 10 service games, Sakkari dropped a total of eight points, with three double faults. She never faced a break point. She won 22 straight points on serve midway through the match. She wasn't a slouch on return points either:

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Sakkari is now set to face Emma Raducanu in the semifinals, in which she will be the oldest player at the ripe age of 26. Raducanu is 18, while the other side features the 23-year-old Aryna Sabalenka and the 19-year-old Leylah Fernandez, which adds up to an average age of 21.5.

Alexander Zverev defeats Lloyd Harris

Lloyd Harris, who has beaten three Top 30 seeds since the start of the tournament, isn't heading to the semifinals. Alexander Zverev defeated the unseeded Harris in straight sets, 7-6(6), 6-3, 6-4.

Harris began the match looking great. He stayed right with Zverev, who is seeded fourth, and even managed to snag a two-game lead at 5-3. He then promptly lost that lead when Zverev caught up, and then lost the subsequent tiebreaker 8-6. 

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Compared to the first set, the second set was a walk in the park for Zverev. Harris' forehand, one of his major weapons, started to fail him, and the unforced errors started coming more frequently. Zverev cruised through that set, and looked ready to demolish Harris once he took a 4-0 lead in the third set. 

Then Harris started to get his game under control. He won one game, then another, and another. Zverev's monster serve is the only thing that stopped Harris from winning a fourth straight game. For the first time since the first set, there was some drama. Unfortunately, it didn't last long. Up 5-4, Zverev finished it off easily, winning his 16th straight match. He's onto the semifinals for the second straight year, and will face the winner of Wednesday night's match between Novak Djokovic and Matteo Berrettini. 

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Emma Raducanu cruises past Belinda Bencic

If there's one thing that's defined the 2021 US Open for the women, it's the success of young phenoms against highly-seeded players. Just like Leylah Fernandez, 18-year-old Emma Raducanu made her way through qualifiers and then started destroying every single one of her opponents. 

That didn't stop on Wednesday. Raducanu defeated Belinda Bencic, the No. 10 seed and recent Olympic gold medalist, to earn her ticket to the semifinals. She won in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4, and still hasn't dropped a single set. 

It was a rough start for Raducanu, but as soon as she found her feet in the first set, she was unstoppable. After Bencic went ahead 2-0, Raducanu won six of the next seven games, including five straight, to win the set in decisive fashion. 

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The first set also included a magnificent 20-shot rally that Raducanu ended with a beautiful forehand winner down the line. 

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The second set was tougher, because it looked like Bencic had rebounded and was ready to fight. She took a 2-1 lead, but continued to struggle. Raducanu played really clean tennis while Bencic had issues with unforced errors. She started showing frustration, and then resignation. She'd won just one of her five break points and couldn't seem to get an edge on Raducanu. 

Up 5-3 in the second set, Raducanu started to falter. She hit the ball into the net more than a few times, then gave Bencic a free point with a double fault. Within one game of tying the set at 5-5, it looked like Bencic was about to make a great comeback and maybe even force a tiebreak or a third set. She even had a 30-0 lead in that 10th game, but she let Raducanu climb out of that hole to win the game, set, and match. 

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Raducanu was ranked in the 300s by the WTA back in June. As of September 8, she's ranked at 51. Her match against Bencic sent one clear message: underestimate her at your own risk. 

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