Sports US Open 2018 Results: Novak Djokovic and Madison Keys Are Back in the Semifinals
• Novak Djokovic beat John Millman and has advanced to the semifinals in his last 11 U.S. Open appearances.
• Madison Keys, last year’s U.S. Open runner-up, booked a return trip to the semifinals, where she will face Naomi Osaka, a 20-year-old from Japan.
• Kei Nishikori joined his Japanese countrywoman in the semifinals by defeating Marin Cilic in five sets.
Here’s what happened Wednesday at the U.S. Open:
Djokovic assumes his regular place in the semifinals
Novak Djokovic did not find as much trouble at Arthur Ashe Stadium as his rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal did the previous two nights. But that does not mean his 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 victory over John Millman on Wednesday night was easy, or even lacking in drama.
Millman, a 29-year-old Australian who upset Federer two nights before, was playing in his first Grand Slam quarterfinal, but he frustrated Djokovic in all three sets.
The match turned bizarre in the middle of the second set. First, Djokovic, who appeared to be in some physical distress, got into an argument with his team in the players’ box over some missing pills. Then Millman asked for, and received, an unscheduled break in order to change his clothes, which were soaked in sweat on another hot night at the tournament.
Djokovic received a bottle of tablets (and some nasal spray) during Millman’s break to change, which lasted more than six minutes.
None of it stopped Djokovic from reaching the semifinals, where he will play Kei Nishikori. Djokovic has advanced to the semifinals in his last 11 U.S. Open appearances. He did not play last year’s tournament because of an elbow injury.
Djokovic has won 14 of 16 matches against Nishikori, including in the Wimbledon quarterfinals in July. But one of the losses came in the U.S. Open semifinals in 2014.
Doubles will be on display Thursday
On Thursday, entrance to the grounds of the National Tennis Center will be free during the day session of the U.S. Open.
Those who take the opportunity to go to Flushing Meadows Corona Park will get to see doubles, mixed doubles, wheelchair tennis and the junior tournament, beginning at noon.
Louis Armstrong Stadium will be the home of the men’s and women’s doubles semifinals. On first will be Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo against Radu Albot and Malek Jaziri, who made the tournament as alternates.
That match will be followed by the Colombian duo of Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farrah against the Americans Mike Bryan and Jack Sock, who won Wimbledon together in July.
That was Bryan’s first Grand Slam men’s doubles title without his twin, Bob. Mike Bryan and Sock have won 10 matches in a row at majors.
The women’s doubles semifinals will feature the Czech pair of Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova against Ashleigh Barty and CoCo Vandeweghe, followed by Samantha Stosur and Zhang Shuai against the second-seeded Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic.
The mixed doubles final was set on Wednesday, when Jamie Murray and Bethanie Mattek-Sands defeated Christian Harrison and Christina McHale, and Nikola Mektic and Alicja Rosolska beat Zhang Shuai and John Peers. Both matches went to super tiebreakers after the teams split the first two sets.
Murray and Mattek-Sands have each won Grand Slam mixed doubles titles with different partners. The final will be Saturday.
Keys returns to the final four
Last year, the U.S. Open women’s semifinals featured four American women — Sloane Stephens, Venus Williams, Madison Keys and CoCo Vandeweghe. This year, Keys is the only one of those four women to make it back.
Keys, 23, defeated Carla Suarez Navarro, 6-4, 6-3 on Wednesday night and will face Naomi Osaka in one semifinal on Thursday night.
They have met three times, including at this year’s French Open, and Keys has won all three. Their most memorable match was at the U.S. Open in 2016, when Osaka, then 18, was ahead by 5-1 in the third set but lost, 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (3).
Nishikori reaches another U.S. Open semifinal
Kei Nishikori advanced to the U.S. Open semifinals for the third time with a 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-4 victory over Marin Cilic on Wednesday. The match took 4 hours 8 minutes, the fifth longest match of the tournament so far.
Nishikori lost in the 2016 semifinals to Stan Wawrinka, the eventual winner, and was runner-up to Cilic at the 2014 Open.
Nishikori, 28, joined his Japanese countrywoman Naomi Osaka in semifinals. It is the first time Japan has had men’s and women’s semifinalists at the same major.
Weather update: It’s a little cooler
For the sixth day of the tournament, extreme heat rules are in effect, allowing for a 10-minute break between the second and third sets for women’s, boys’ and girls’ singles matches, and for a 10-minute break between the third and fourth sets of men’s matches. It was around 88 degrees and not so hot as to cause a suspension in the junior tournament, as happened on Tuesday.
Kendra Pierre-Louis, a climate reporter for The Times, wrote about how the conditions of the tournament have underscored a growing problem: increasing nighttime temperatures. Under climate change, summer nights have warmed at nearly twice the rate of summer days.
Francesca Schiavone, the 2010 French Open champion and former top-5 player, announced her retirement on Wednesday afternoon at the U.S. Open.
She said she was saying goodbye to tennis “with my heart, because my head, when I arrive here, say, ‘Please go to the court, fight,’ because I can beat many other players. But my heart say that I am in peace like this, that I am very happy about my career, my life, and everything.”
Schiavone, 38, was the first Italian woman to win a Grand Slam singles title. She was part of a golden generation of Italian women’s tennis with Flavia Pennetta, Roberta Vinci and Sara Errani.
They led Italy to its first four Fed Cup titles, winning in 2006, 2009, 2010 and 2013. Pennetta beat Vinci for the 2015 U.S. Open title. Errani and Vinci won five Grand Slam doubles titles together. Errani was a French Open finalist in 2012 and reached two other major semifinals.
All four reached the top 10, led by Schiavone, who rose as high as No. 4. Vinci and Pennetta have also retired in recent years.
“My new dream is to come here with a player and to be in a Grand Slam as a coach,” said Schiavone, who added that she has already been coaching for a few months.
Osaka reaches her first Grand Slam semifinal
Naomi Osaka had never been to a quarterfinal of a Grand Slam tournament before Wednesday, but once she got there, she played with the calm resolve of a proven veteran.
Osaka, the engaging 20-year-old from Japan, burst into one of the women’s semifinals with a decisive 6-1, 6-1, victory over the unseeded Lesia Tsurenko in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Osaka, who was born in Japan but spent most of her childhood in the United States, became the first Japanese woman to reach the semifinal stage of a major tournament since Kimiko Date at Wimbledon in 1996. (Date lost to the eventual winner Steffi Graf.)
Her match was the first half of a big day for Japanese tennis as No. 21 Kei Nishikori was set to play No. 7 Marin Cilic in a men’s quarterfinal. It marked the first time two Japanese players have participated in the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam since Wimbledon in 1995.
That year, Shuzo Matsuoka reached the men’s quarterfinals and lost to Pete Sampras in four sets, and Date lost to Jana Novotna in straight sets in a women’s quarterfinal.
Osaka will play the winner of the quarterfinal between No, 14 Madison Keys and No. 30 Carla Suarez Navarro, which was scheduled for Wednesday night. That was expected to be a far more competitive match than Osaka’s victory over a depleted and drained Tsurenko.
Playing in the midday sun, Osaka wrapped up the win and got off court in 57 minutes. She said the conditions did not matter to her.
“I actually don’t think it’s that hot,” she said in an on-court interview. “I’m sorry. I’m used to the Florida heat. I kind of enjoyed it. I like sweating.”
She surrendered only 14 points in the first set and won it in 26 minutes as she steamrollered her overmatched opponent; Tsurenko staggered through a demanding fourth-round meeting against Marketa Vondrousova in staggering heat and humidity on Monday. Tsurenko seemed to favor her left leg at points during the match and did not appear to have the stamina left to hang with Osaka.
When it was over, Osaka went to the net to shake hands without much celebration, but she admitted that her calm outward demeanor belied inner anxiety.
“I was freaking out inside,” she said, and added, “My entire body was shaking, so I’m really glad I was able to play well today.”
This has been a breakout year for Osaka, who beat No. 1 Simona Halep to capture the Masters 1000 event at Indian Wells, Calif., in March for her first WTA tour event title. She also demonstrated her nerve by beating her idol, Serena Williams, a few weeks later in Miami.
Until this U.S. Open, Osaka’s best showing at a Grand Slam tournament was the fourth round at this year’s Australian Open.
Wednesday’s quarterfinal matchups
• Top-seeded Rafael Nadal needed five sets and nearly five hours to get past Dominic Thiem in the longest match in the tournament.
• Sloane Stephens, the defending champion in women’s singles, lost in the quarterfinals to Anastasija Sevastova.
• The top American on the men’s side, No. 11 John Isner, fell to No. 3 Juan Martín del Potro.