U.S. Open Day 10: Djokovic defeats Murray, Nishikori outlasts Wawrinka, Serena advances to semifinals

Sept 3, 2:30 PM

Djokovic defeats Murray in four sets

No. 1 Novak Djokovic advanced the U.S. Open semifinals following a 4-set victory over No. 8 seed Andy Murray 7-6, 6-7, 6-2, 6-4. The win gives Djokovic his 8th straight U.S. Open semifinal berth.

The two played the first two sets in over two hours, but it was Djokovic that came out victorious in the end, dominating the third and fourth sets en route to the win. Djokovic will now face Kei Nishikori in the semifinals.

Nishikori outlasts Wawrinka in 5-set epic

Kei Nishikori did the seemingly impossible on Wednesday, outlasting Stan Wawrinka in the U.S. Open quarterfinal, in five brutal sets, in brutal heat, on the heels of a brutal fourth-round match that had ended at 2:26 am on Tuesday morning. 

The final score read: 3-6, 7-5, 7-6, 6-7, 6-4. The time of the match: four hours and 15 minutes - the second-longest of the tournament so far, bested only by Nishikori's own match less than two days earlier. 

Only a handful of matches in the tournament's history have ended later than two in the morning, and those lucky enough to emerge victorious from those matches didn't enjoy much subsequent success:

The longer this match went on, the more you kept expecting to see Nishikori fade, if not outright collapse. Of the past 40-odd hours, he'd spent eight-and-a-half on court. 

And it isn't like he'd just been standing around out there. This match was an all-out war, possibly the most physical of the tournament so far. It featured two of the game's best backhands; Nishikori's flat and precise two-hander, and Wawrinka's massive one-handed offering. Both guys yanked each other every which way around the court. Both were hitting the absolute piss out of the ball. 

Wawrinka got a bigger boost from his serve, hammering 18 aces and winning 84 percent of his first-serve points. Nishikori had more success mixing up the pace, consistently pulling out timely and beautifully-executed drop shots and slice volleys, while winning 29 of 37 points at net. You sensed the whole time that the match would go the distance. The only question seemed to be whether Nishikori would be able to get up out of his chair when it started. 

But get up he did. And when Wawrinka's last forehand found the net, the 24-year-old Nishikori, looking too exhausted to fully celebrate, simply lifted his arms in relief and disbelief, officially a first-time Grand Slam semifinalist, the first Japanese man in the Open Era to achieve the feat. 

Hopefully he'll rest up before playing his next historic match. 

Serena Williams defeats Pennetta to reach semis

No. 1 seed Serena Williams needed 63 minutes to send No. 11 Flavia Pennetta home and advance to the semifinals on Wednesday.

Williams won in straight sets 6-3, 6-2, breaking Pennetta five times and hitting 31 winners.

Williams, 32, is aiming to capture her third consecutive U.S. Open championship.

Makarova powers her way to first Grand Slam semi

The 2014 U.S. Open belongs to Ekaterina Makarova.

OK, excuse the hyperbole, but the tournament's No. 17 seed continued her peerless roll on Day 10, slicing through returning finalist Victoria Azarenka in quarterfinal play. 

The 26-year-old stayed on the offensive, threatening Azarenka's serve time and time again between efficient holds. Makarova went baseline to baseline, offsetting Azarenka's strength advantage which seemed further frustrate an opponent already dealing with an affliction. 

The 6-4, 6-2 straight sets victory thrusts Makarova into the semifinals of both the women's singles and doubles competitions. A Grand Slam doubles winner already, Makarova will make her first final-four singles appearance at a major against the winner of Serena Williams' quarterfinal match against Flavia Pennetta. 

Feature photo courtesy of Reuters/Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports