2) Roger Federer (Switzerland) D. Stan Wawrinka (Switzerland) 6-7(2), 7-6(2), 6-2
Roger Federer completed a two-match Friday sweep by nipping friend Stan Wawrinka in an enticing back-and-forth battle that capped a robust day of action at the Lindner Family Tennis Center.
Federer extends his W&S Open winning streak to 14, tying Michael Chang (’93-’95) for the second-longest streak in tournament Open Era history. Federer is now 21-3 all-time and 2-0 against Wawrinka in Cincinnati.
Wawrinka claimed the first set by saving four break points and scoring 83 percent of his first service points.
Federer rebounded to take the second by scoring 91 percent of his first-serve and 77 percent of his second-serve points. He displayed the form that brought him seven W&S Open titles by staving off Wawrinka’s late attempts to take the match with precision returns that forced a tiebreaker.
He bowed up again in the deciding set to convert 83 percent of his first serve points and 67 percent of his second-return points.
The match was delayed for approximately nine minutes for lightning in the third set. The break may have provided Federer with the extra edge he needed to pull away for the victory.
“Maybe he came out a bit heavy after the delay,” Federer said. “I also felt heavy for a second because it has been a lot of tennis and a lot of focus we had to put into it. Maybe, it just felt a little bit easier for me and I was just a bit clearer with what I wanted to do, also from the baseline.
“I really enjoyed the match for what it was. It’s difficult always to play against him but I’m happy I was able to find a way in the breaker in the second because it was a frustrating night for the most part.
“In the third, I was able to find a way because he maybe dropped his level, but I also maybe played a bit better,” Federer analyzed.
He’ll face 11th-seeded and ATP No. 11 David Goffin in the semifinal. He enjoyed a stellar two-match day in which he completed the rare feat of eliminating ATP No. 6 Kevin Anderson this afternoon and ATP No. 3 Juan Martin del Potro tonight.
Goffin won the most recent meeting with Federer 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the ATP Nitto Finals semifinal round in Great Britain last season, but is 1-6 all-time in the series.
(10) Novak Djokovic (Serbia) D. Milos Raonic (Canada) 7-5, 4-6, 6-3
Novak Djokovic moved within two victories of earning his first W&S Open championship and becoming the first to place a ninth and final jewel in an ATP “Golden Masters” crown by rallying from a second-set loss to defeat Milos Raonic.
The Serbian’s second victory of the day advanced his Cincinnati ledger to 30-11 and thwarted Raonic’s bid for his third overall and second semifinal tournament appearance in the past three years.
Raonic blasted 21 aces, many touching 140 mph, including 10 while capturing the second set, but Djokovic was able to effectively counter by scoring 67 percent of his second-return points.
“Just a great one to get through. He was putting a lot of first serves in and kind of making me move around. I was trying to find the best position on the return, but sometimes it’s just a gamble, it’s just an instinct,” said Djokovic, the reigning Wimbledon champion.
He looks forward to resuming a less hectic tournament schedule tomorrow.
“It’s not easy yesterday waiting for the entire day to play the match against Dimitrov, coming back, being interrupted, leaving the courts around 11 p.m., coming back early today, playing, resting and playing this (match.) It’s quite the rollercoaster to be honest.
“I look forward to having a quiet evening to get ready for the semifinals tomorrow,” he concluded.
(11) David Goffin (Belgium) D. Juan Martin del Potro (Argentina) 7-6(5), 7-6(4)
David Goffin emerged from his one-day sweep of two ATP top-10 players with his first Cincinnati semifinal berth and fourth this season after knocking off No. 3 Juan Martin del Potro.
The match featured long, entertaining and powerful rallies in which Goffin was able to displace del Potro with well-placed volleys.
Goffin went up 5-4 in the second set and collected seven of the final eight points to close out a tight, yet efficient victory.
He began his day with a 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 victory over No. 6 Kevin Anderson and was quite pleased with his accomplishments on an undefeated day.
“It was not easy, because if you play at 11:00 against Kevin Anderson, you have to be ready to return his serve. He's playing really fast. He's strong. So, I'm really happy the way I returned, the way I moved, and the way I played this morning.
“Then, I complete another match against Juan Martin this evening. Happy I won in two sets in the morning, so I was fresh for the match, because it was great intensity against Delpo with some rallies with his backhand crosscourt. It was not easy tactically to find a solution.
“But, at the end, two tiebreakers and I made it. So I'm really happy to be in the semifinal for the first time,” he said.
His reward is an eighth all-time meeting with seven-time tournament champion Roger Federer, who owns a 6-1 advantage in the head-to-head series.
Goffin’s previous best W&S Open results were Round of 16 appearances in 2015 and 2013.
(1) Simona Halep (Romania) D. (5) Lesia Tsurenko (Ukraine) 6-4, 6-1
Simona Halep made a quick turn from her afternoon Round of 16 victory and made quick quarterfinal work of Lesia Tsurenko en route to garnering a fourth straight W&S Open semifinal spot.
Today’s performances move Halep to 19-6 in Cincinnati since her 2012 debut and guarantee she’ll hold the No. 1 WTA ranking through the U.S. Open.
She was 72 percent on first serves and won 75 percent of her second-serve points in the 76-minute bout with Tsurenko.
Halep’s return game helped her cash in 68 percent of her second-return points and 53 percent of her first return points. She complemented those efforts by saving seven break points.
"It was a tough day. I'm really tired. But I'm happy that I could win both of them. The second one I think it was much better from 1-4. I started to feel the game," Halep said.
Halep will square off with Aryna Sabalenka for a chance to advance to the championship. Halep took the only previous head-to-head meeting 6-2, 6-2 in Shenzhen qualifying rounds.
"We played this year at the beginning of the year, first tournament," Halep said. "I know it's going to be different because she has a lot of confidence now and she has beaten so many good players, but
I am confident in the same time.
"It's going to be a big challenge for me after so many matches. Tomorrow's gonna be a tough one, but I'm here just to play it and I hope to win," she said.
(8) Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic) D. (15) Elise Mertens (Belgium) 7-5, 5-7, 6-3
Petra Kvitova will return to a W&S Open semifinal for the first time since 2012 after handing Elise Mertens her first tournament loss.
The veteran Czech negotiated her way through the tight tussle and took the first set by winning 67 percent of her first-serve points. She helped Mertens even the match at one by committing six double faults and surrendering three break points in the second set before regrouping to score a three-game, third-set triumph by converting 73 percent of her second-return points.
“It was a big fight. I knew that Elise was playing really well. I think she won four titles this year or something like that.
“She's a tough opponent and when I gave her time and didn’t really play that aggressive, she was just going for that.
“I didn't really serve well, but luckily I did have good second serve, which was very important for me to put it back to the court and play some rallies,” Kvitova said.
The world No. 6 is in a semifinal for the sixth time this seasn and first time since Birmingham, England in June.
She'll face Netherlands' Kiki Bertens.
Kvitova leads the head-to-head series 2-1. Bertens earned her first series victory in the Montreal Round of 16 and Kvitova knocked off Bertens to claim the Madrid championship in May.
Kvitova and top-seeded Simona Halep are the only tournament seeds to advance this year’s tournament semis.
Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) D. (13) Madison Keys (USA) 6-3, 6-4
Aryna Sabalenka continued her impressive debut tear through the W&S Open by taking down her fourth straight ranked opponent in Madison Keys.
The 20-year-old Belarusian and WTA No. 34 becomes the second unseeded player to reach this year’s semifinals. She also reached the semifinals in Eastbourne in June and at Lugano.
In addition to WTA No. 13 Keys, Sabalenka’s list of tournament conquests includes No. 5 Caroline Garcia, No. 8 Karolina Pliskova and No. 39 Johanna Konta.
“You know, it doesn't matter against whom you play. I understand right now. It's just like you have to come on the court and play and don't think about top players or this is not seeded players. Just come and show people your best. It's enough,” Sabalenka said current four-match streak.
She displayed power and precision once again with 19 winners and going 2-for-3 on break points while getting past Keys, who was 0-for-10 on break points.
Sabalenka said the two-set victory can work to her advantage in her semifinal tilt with No. 1 Simona Halep tomorrow.
“I'm so happy I did it in two sets. You have to save your energy. Now, I can be more calm,” Sabalenka said.
She’ll face off with Halep for the second time this season. Halep scored a 6-2, 6-2 victory in Shenzhen in December.
“It will be tough. She's (No. 1) and she's a great player, good fighter. She's moving really good, so it's gonna be so tough for me. But, I will do my best,” Sabalenka concluded.