Youzhny Joins Nadal, Federer and Djokovic

US Open 2010
By Hiland Doolittle, September 10th, 2010
Youzhny Joins Nadal, Federer and Djokovic

Youzhny Joins Nadal, Federer and Djokovic

Mikhail Youzhny parlayed a timely service break with a strategic visit by the trainer to quell Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka’s momentum and stamp out the possibility of defeat. With an enthralling 3-6, 7-6 (7), 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 five set win, Mikhail has advanced to the semifinals against top seeded Rafa Nadal at Flushing Meadows on Saturday.

When Wawrinka knocked off fourth seed Andy Murray in the round of sixteen, the four slot was up for grabs in the semis. Youzhny and Wawrinka battled each other and the swirling winds for more than four hours before Youzhny silenced the tenacious Wawrinka.

Considering the horrific winds, play was extremely elevated between the two high-energy competitors. After moving smoothly through the first set, Wawrinka had numerous chances to win the second set, but the gimpy Russian battled back running off three straight points to claim the tiebreaker.

Players exchanged breaks in the third set before Wawrinka made a break in the eighth game stand up. In the fourth set, Wawrinka grabbed the early lead but Youzhny came back and made a key hold in the seventh game before summoning the trainer to re-tape his foot.

Meanwhile, Wawrinka was left to cool his jets before beginning the eighth game. When the players returned to action, Wawrinka had lost touch with the play and was broken easily before Youzhny served out the set to level the match.

The Russian then broke Wawrinka twice in the fifth set to seal his semifinal berth across from Nadal. Youzhny has a relatively good record (4-7) against Rafa, defeating the Spaniard at Flushing Meadows in 2006.

Against Fernando Verdasco, Rafael Nadal did what he has done throughout the tournament. Despite an early break, Nadal’s first loss of serve in the tournament, the Spaniard played his game and gradually wore down his opponent.

The 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 straight set win was filled with terrific net play, spectacular groundstrokes and miraculous retrieves. Nadal pulled even at 4-4 and then captured a tenth game break to claim the set.

Verdasco lost for the eleventh straight time to Rafa and he was openly frustrated as the wind and Nadal closed in on him. Nadal used steady returns of service to counter Verdasco’s serve and by the beginning of the second set was clearly focused on the mission ahead.

Nadal used this match to showcase his improved serve and his new, offensive net game. As Federer did the night before, Nadal played the wind instead of fighting with it. Nadal remains the most impressive player at the Open but Youzhny will put up a fight on Saturday.


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