Federer gains semi-finals and revenge
Roger Federer won a measure of revenge as he beat fifth-seeded Swede Robin Soderling 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 on Wednesday to reach the semi-finals of the U.S. Open for the seventh successive time.
Federer, showing the all-round brilliance that has won him a record 16 grand slam titles, refused to let gusty winds at Arthur Ashe centre court slow down his charge as he routed Soderling, who had eliminated him in the quarter-finals at this year's French Open.
The 29-year-old Swiss, whose string of five consecutive U.S. Open titles was snapped last year in the final, commanded his serve with precision through the adverse conditions to quash Soderling in just under two hours.
Next up for the second-seeded Federer will be third seed Novak Djokovic of Serbia, who beat France's Gael Monfils to advance.
Federer beat Djokovic in the Flushing Meadows final in 2007 and in the semi-finals the last two years.
Image: Roger Federer of Switzerland celebrates after beating Robin Soderling of Sweden
Wozniacki cuts through wind
Caroline Wozniacki stayed on course for a return to the U.S. Open final, fighting near gale-force winds and big forehands from diminutive Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia on Wednesday to reach the semi-finals.
The top-seeded Dane, who breezed through the first four rounds losing just 10 games, navigated the challenges for a 6-2, 7-5 victory that set up a semi-finals match with seventh-seeded Russian Vera Zvonareva, the Wimbledon runner-up.
With winds gusting to 33 mph (53 kph) whipping across the Arthur Ashe centre court, causing the net to flutter, napkins to blow on the court and service tosses to swerve away, Wozniacki broke the Slovak in the 11th game of the second set and held serve to close out the blustery 105-minute match.
"It felt like playing in a hurricane or something," said 20-year-old Wozniacki, who began the match with her hair pulled back and tied in a pony tail, but ended up braiding it to keep her blond locks from blowing around her face.
"But it's the same for both players and I'm so happy to get through."
The wind wreaked havoc with serve and groundstrokes alike, with Cibulkova once tossing the ball four times before finally being able to hit the ball. Another time she was aiming for deuce court and sent her serve wide of the ad court.
Wozniacki hit one serve that bounced about five metres short of the net and bounced over.
Both players hit numerous groundstrokes off their racket frames, making improvisation and guessing at the strength of the wind a vital part of the match.
Wozniacki, winner of four tournaments this year, could make a significant breakthrough should she get past Zvonareva on Friday and win Saturday's final.
The Dane is looking for her first grand slam title, with a victory fattening her bank account by $2.7 million, including a $1 million bonus for winning the U.S. Open Series this summer, and lifting her to the world number one ranking.
Image: Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark celebrates defeating Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia
Djokovic into fourth straight U.S. Open semi
Serbia's Novak Djokovic defied high, swirling winds to reach the semi-finals of the U.S. Open for the fourth consecutive year with a convincing 7-6, 6-1, 6-2 victory over Gael Monfils on Wednesday.
There were high expectations for the a match that featured two of the most watchable players in the men's draw, and while both showcased glimpses of their crowd-pleasing shotmaking, the windy conditions wreaked havoc on their play.
Routine ball tosses were blown off course, the pair's towels were at times strewn across the side of the court and serves were slowed to 110 mph (177 kph) as the gusts increased in the latter stages of the match.
"These are the worst conditions so far in this tournament," Djokovic said in a courtside interview after the match. "But I was really focused when I needed to be and I'm just so happy to come through in straight sets."
France's Monfils, cheered on by countryman and New York Red Bulls striker Thierry Henry, jumped ahead 4-2 in the opening set after breaking the number three seed's serve.
But Djokovic, who had never lost to his French opponent in four previous meetings, broke back two games later and showed beautiful variation to dominate the subsequent tiebreak 7-2.
As the wind was increasingly whipped up inside Arthur Ashe Stadium, both players struggled to hold serve.
Djokovic, cheered on by a very vocal group of Serbian fans, did well to concede just one break while Monfils failed to hold a single service game in the second set, which was far tighter than the 6-1 score suggested.
After that, Djokovic marked himself as a serious contender for Sunday's title when he wrapped up the final set in dominant fashion in 37 minutes to set up a last-four encounter with Roger Federer.
Image: Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates his victory against Gael Monfils of France
Zvonareva reaches first U.S. Open semi-final
Russian Vera Zvonareva reached the semi-finals of the U.S. Open for the first time when she beat Estonia's Kaia Kanepi 6-3, 7-5 at a windy Flushing Meadows on Wednesday.
The seventh seed, who reached the final at Wimbledon in July and is the last Russian woman left standing in New York, was too consistent for 31st seed Kanepi and wrapped up victory in one hour, 53 minutes.
Zvonareva, who will play top seed Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, admitted the swirling winds had played havoc with the match.
"The most important thing was to find the right balance between being patient and being aggressive," said Zvonareva.
"I was trying to make it as difficult as possible for her. With those conditions, unforced errors look like easy shots but with the wind going all different directions and blowing, it's not easy. I think I made the right choices."
Kanepi had beaten fourth seed Jelena Jankovic on her way to the last eight but she looked nervous early on, double-faulting six times and hitting 25 unforced errors in the first set.
When Kanepi did find her range, she had the power to cause Zvonareva problems but the tall Estonian had more trouble than the Russian in coping with the stiff breeze that blew across Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Image: Vera Zvonareva of Russia celebrates a point during her match against Kaia Kanepi of Estonia