US Open: Bencic, Berrettini into first major semifinals

Published by Tennismash / Reuters

Belinda Bencic (L) and Matteo Berrettini in action during their US Open quarterfinals (Getty Images)
Belinda Bencic and Matteo Berrettini advance to the US Open semifinals after back-to-back victories at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Wednesday in New York.

Matteo Berrettini survived a fightback from Gael Monfils to win their dramatic US Open quarterfinal in a fifth-set tiebreak on Wednesday.

After failing to serve out the match — a game which included a double fault on match point — the Italian required another four match points before finally sealing a 3-6 6-3 6-2 3-6 7-6(5) victory.

As a result, he progresses to his first Grand Slam semifinal, as did Belinda Bencic earlier on Wednesday after the Swiss fended off Donna Vekic to win 7-6(5) 6-3 in their quarterfinal clash on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The pair appeared evenly matched through most of the first set, as Switzerland’s Bencic struggled for consistency on serve, firing off five aces but committing four double faults.

The 13th seed took command of the match in the second set, committing just four unforced errors compared to 17 in the first.

Croatian Vekic fired 28 winners during the match but failed to save critical break points against her, as an elated Bencic reached a new milestone in an injury-plagued career.

“Sometimes you all take it a little bit for granted,” said the 22-year-old, who stunned world No.1 and defending champion Naomi Osaka earlier in the week.

“When you can’t play you miss it so much. For me it’s a perspective change and I am enjoying playing tennis so much now.”

Bencic next plays either Canada’s Bianca Andreescu or Belgium’s Elise Mertens, who face off under the lights at Arthur Ashe Stadium later on Wednesday.

“For sure Andreescu has a lot of variation in her game. Mertens is more like a wall-type of game. She’s a great counter-puncher,” said Bencic.

“Definitely I’m very curious who is going to win and adapt to the opponent in the semifinals.”

Berrettini survives a scare

Berrettini plays the winner of Wednesday night’s quarterfinal between three-time US Open champion Rafael Nadal and 20th seed Diego Schwartzman.

His opportunity to reach the final four of a maiden Grand Slam event was under threat when Monfils, after breaking the nervous 23-year-old in the ninth game, held serve to level the fifth set at 5-5 and conducted the excitable crowd.

Berrettini held for 6-5 and then earned two match points in the 12th game as Monfils’ serve was plagued with double faults; he would finish the match with 17.

Yet the Frenchman, again, escaped.

Berrettini played the more forceful tennis in the tiebreak and closed out victory in just under four hours.

“Right now I don’t remember any points — just the match point. I remember also the double fault, I have to be honest,” he smiled during his on-court interview.

“What a great fight. I would like to say congrats to Gael, to his team … When I was playing I was thinking one of the best match I ever maybe saw. I was playing, but I was watching also (laughter).”

“I was pretty lucky that I had match points and he didn’t have match points … I have to say I was a little bit tight but he didn’t see I guess (laughter).

“I’m really proud of myself. I lost my serve twice in the fifth. I was 5-2 and serving in the tiebreak. I was there, focusing on the next point. That’s a great job.

“I’m really happy. I don’t know what to say. Thank you guys.”

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