Errani, Sharapova in semis

Ferrer fights his way past Gasquet to reach mens quarterfinals as rain hits play

Sara Errani beat her good friend and doubles partner Roberta Vinci 6-2, 6-4 on Wednesday to reach the semifinals of the US Open for the first time.

The two Italians, who teamed up to make it to the doubles semifinals at Flushing Meadows, briefly put their friendship aside as they traded blows for a place in the last four.

Errani was the favourite after making the French Open final this year and proved too strong for her countrywoman, landing an impressive 85 percent of her first serves to wrap up victory in 72 minutes.

Errani had never made it past the third round of the US Open before this year. She will play either Serena Williams or Ana Ivanovic in Friday's semifinals.

Victoria Azarenka, who beat defending champion Samantha Stosur in her quarterfinals on Tuesday, will play  Maria Sharapova in the other semifinal. Sharapova rallied from a set down to knock out Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in her quarterfinal.

On Tuesday, David Ferrer carried Spanish hopes into the men’s quarterfinals after the fourth seed beat Frenchman Richard Gasquet 7-5 7-6 6-4 in a match spanning nearly eight hours as the remnants of Hurricane Isaac played havoc with the schedule and left organisers juggling with a backlog.

Ferrer, the last Spaniard left in the men's field, withstood two rain delays before completing a straight-sets win that took less than three hours of court time but stretched from dayside into night. The victory improved Ferrer's career record to 8-1 over the 13th-seeded Gasquet.

Only two of six singles matches were completed due to rain, forcing tournament officials to reschedule the remaining four in the hope they can finish the year's last Grand Slam on time. However, the prospects are bleak with more showers forecast in the 'Big Apple' for the rest of the week.

In the other match that was completed, Azarenka defeated Stosur 6-1, 4-6, 7-6, as briefly reported yesterday.

"We almost had to start over two times in the match," said the 30-year-old Ferrer, a five-times winner this season, who moved up in the seedings following the withdrawal of compatriot Rafa Nadal due to injury. "It took a lot of focus."

It also took a lot of effort in the final game for Ferrer to end the match, clinching his spot in the last eight on his fifth match point when Gasquet sent a backhand long in the fourth-round match in Louis Armstrong Stadium. The victory made Ferrer the second Spaniard after Nadal to reach at least the quarterfinals of all four grand slam events in a season since tennis went professional in 1968.

"I'm very happy for that. This season was the best of all my career. I've played consistent all the year," said the Spaniard, who is aiming to reach his first grand slam final.

The match was close in nearly every statistical category, but it was Ferrer who won the big points, taking advantage of five of 12 break point chances while fighting off eight of Gasquet's 11 opportunities to break serve.

"I think I have luck in important moments," said Ferrer.

Ferrer has reached the last eight without the loss of a set and will meet either eighth seed Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia or 19th-seeded German Philipp Kohlschreiber in the quarters.

On top

Azarenka will remain atop the world rankings regardless of how much further she goes in the tournament. “It means a lot, but it's nothing like lifting a trophy,” said Azarenka. “I definitely don't want to stop. I really want it bad.”

Azarenka, who won her first Grand Slam title at this year's Australian Open, had won her previous six matches against Stosur in straight sets and seemed to be cruising  when she romped through the opening set in just 30 minutes.

But Stosur launched a fierce fightback before Azarenka asserted her might in the decider.
“I enjoy the fight,” said Azarenka. “I enjoy the struggle, that pain that we go through, that incredible moment that you feel relieved after you know you gave it all in every point you had.”

Paes’ match hit by rain

Leander Paes’ men’s doubles quarterfinal match was postponed after rain interrupted play. Paes partnering Radek Stepanek of Czech Republic were leading 6-2, 1-0 against unseeded Austro-Slovak pairing of Julian Knowle and Filip Polasek on Court No 17 when the skies opened up.

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