Thursday, 8 September 2016

Nishikori ousts Whinging Murray

For someone who had previously never made it past the third round of a Grand Slam tournament in singles, Karolina Pliskova has certainly made up for lost time in this year's US Open, and on Day Ten, she progressed to her first semi final, with a convincing victory over 18 year old Ana Konjuh, who looks every bit a star of the future, a not too distant future.

The 10th seed from the Czech Republic was irresistible as she took under an hour to dismantle the Croatian teenager in their quarter final, hitting as many winners as Ana, but 15 less unforced mistakes.  Karolina won 32 points from the 37 serves that she delivered, making it impossible for Ana to even contemplate a break.  Pliskova had several chances and used four of them in her 6-2 6-2 deposit on a booking with Serena Williams in the last four.

SW found her way into the semi final with Pliskova the long way.  After a dominant first set against Simona Halep, where she punished the 5th seed's first and second serves, and hit a number of aces and other clean winners, Williams was confronted by a far more settled and competent game from the Romanian racquet wielder in set two.

The set lasted twice as long as the opener, and only one break of serve eventuated - that from Halep.  Amazingly Serena could not convert any of the twelve break points that she had on the Halep serve.
Simona served it out 6-4 to level the match - 37 winners for the set, 27 from Williams.

A sloppy early service game in the decider cost Halep dearly.  Williams converted the first break point available to her, and held her own serve for the remainder of the match, winning the entertaining encounter 6-2 4-6 6-3.

Andy Murray survived three early break points against Kei Nishikori, then proceeded to take the sixth seed apart, winning the opening set 6-1.  Ahead in the second set with another service break, Murray appeared assured of sailing into the final four.  He then stumbled.  Nishikori changed his game plan just in time, and Andy blamed everything and everybody but himself for what was to follow.

It is difficult to warm to Angry Andy or Whinging Whining Moaning Murray.  His on court demeanour is unhappy at best, often petulant, the behaviour expected of a spoilt child.  And this is the second best male player in the world.  In a calm measured way, Nishikori broke down the Murray game which until now had been immune to all attempts, conventional and otherwise.

Andy had seduced drooling American commentators into making over the top pronouncements such as him being the current best player in the world, conveniently forgetting the hefty bankroll of credits amassed by a certain Mr Djokovic, whose Wimbledon loss to Sam Querrey apparently was of such proportions to remove his "best in the business" status.

From a break down, Nishikori broke twice to win the second set 6-4.

Angry Andy implored his box of supporters to assist him, but they stopped short of joining him on court to help return the attractive range of Nishikori ground strokes.  Both players had their serves questioned throughout set three, and Nishikori had one less answer, dropping his on three occasions, and handing the match advantage to the screaming Scot, two sets to one.

A five setter was guaranteed once Andy lost the plot completely in the fourth, winning just 10 points from his 23 serves while Kei captured 17 points from his 21.  6-1 was the scoreline, and Nishikori quickly had a 2-0 lead in the deciding fifth set.

To his credit, Murray broke back with Nishikori serving at 4-2 and took the lead 5-4, forcing the sixth seed to hold serve to stay in the tournament.  Nishikori not only held serve, but prevented Murray from winning another game.

The favourite lost, and Kei Nishikori reached the semi finals for the second time in three years 1-6 6-4 4-6 6-1 7-5.

He will play Stan Wawrinka, who took care of Juan Martin del Potro in four sets.  Del Potro started the better, but each time the Argentine crowd favourite gained an advantage, the Swiss number three seed would win the big points, and more, to take over the ascendancy.  The key to the match was the first set tie breaker, and Stan won a close tussle 7 points to 5 to grab the lead.

Although Del Potro secured the only break of set two, and squared the match, it was the eighth game of set three, when serving at 3-4, that cost him dearly.  
He saved three break points, but double faulted on the one game point he had.  Another double fault presented Stan with a fourth break point which the third seed converted with a winning backhand.

Wawrinka raced through the next section of the match, taking the third set 6-3 and leading the fourth 4-0.  The Delpo spirit had been broken.
Serve was held by both players for the last four games, giving Stan Wawrinka the solid victory 7-6 4-6 6-3 6-2.  Twelve Swiss winners highlighted the fourth and final set.

So the semi finals have been determined and first up are the women on Day Eleven:

(1) Serena Williams v (10) Karolina Pliskova 
(2) Angilique Kerber v Caroline Wozniacki 

Of the 4, only Serena has won the US Open (6 of them) and only Caroline Wozniacki of the others has made a US Open final (2 of them)

It could well be the third Williams v Kerber final this year at Grand Slam level.

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