Whipping passing shots from all angles and returning superbly, the No. 2-seeded Nadal beat No. 21 Roddick 6-2, 6-1, 6-3 on Friday to reach the semifinals at Flushing Meadows for the fourth consecutive year.
Nadal took the first four games against the 2003 U.S. Open champion thanks to two breaks in the opening 18 minutes, then took 16 of the last 17 points to close the second set. In the third set, Roddick had both of his legs massaged by a trainer during a medical timeout.
The other semifinal was set up by Thursday’s quarterfinals, and it’ll be a big one, too: No. 1 Novak Djokovic against No. 3 Roger Federer, who has won five of his record 16 Grand Slam championships at the U.S. Open. For the second time in the last three major tournaments, the final foursome is filled by the top four men in the game – but it hasn’t happened at the U.S. Open since 1992.
Djokovic is 62-2 with nine titles in 2011, including at Wimbledon and the Australian Open. His first loss this season came when Federer ended Djokovic’s 43-match winning streak in a thrilling French Open semifinal.
The exits by Roddick and Isner – with first lady Michelle Obama sitting in the stands at Arthur Ashe Stadium – mean this will be the 32nd Grand Slam tournament in a row without a male champion from the United States, extending the country’s longest drought, which dates to Roddick’s 2003 triumph in New York.
Not all that long ago, the 29-year-old Roddick wasn’t even sure whether he’d be able to compete at the U.S. Open this year because of a torn abdominal muscle. Struggling with various injuries, the former No. 1-ranked man endured a tough season, and he dropped outside the top 20 for the first time in a decade.
Murray, like Nadal one of tennis’ top returners, weathered 17 aces at up to 140 mph from the 6-foot-9 Isner but repeatedly got back serves topping 130 mph and managed to break twice in a row bridging the first two sets.
“I wasn’t swinging out like I felt like I should have early on in the match. I was just guiding the ball,” said Isner, who lives in Tampa, Fla. “That was a little bit of nerves. It just took awhile to free up.”
Murray’s past Grand Slam final appearances include losses to Djokovic at the Australian Open in January and to Federer at the U.S. Open in 2008. He’s seeking to become the first British man since 1936 to win a Grand Slam title.
Isner’s play was littered with mistakes down the stretch: He double-faulted to trail 2-1, slapped what he later called a “gimme volley” into the net to make it 5-2, put a drop shot into the net for 6-2, then missed a forehand return on match point, ending things after 3 hours, 24 minutes.
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- Nadal, Roddick Reach U.S. Open Fourth Round In Straight Sets
- Federer Offers Crowd Serving Tips After Open Win
- Federer Beats Cilic In 4 Sets
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