Record-Setting Djokovic And Gauff Steam Into US Open Semi-Finals

Novak Djokovic advanced to his 47th Grand Slam semi-final with a straight-sets triumph over Taylor Fritz on a hot Tuesday at the US Open, while home favourite Coco Gauff remained on track for her first major title.

Djokovic defeated ninth seed Fritz 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 to extend his dominance of American players in New York and move closer to a record-tying 24th men’s Grand Slam victory.

The 36-year-old Serbian legend will compete in his 13th US Open semi-final, breaking the record he shared with longtime rival Roger Federer for most Grand Slam semi-final appearances.

Djokovic will face rising star Ben Shelton, who defeated 10th seed and 2022 semi-finalist Frances Tiafoe in an all-American match on Tuesday night at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“I’ve been playing on this court for many years, so many epic matches and I cannot wait for another one in a few days’ time,” said Djokovic, a three-time US Open champion.

Djokovic defeated Fritz for the eighth time in a row, weathering stifling conditions as the temperature topped 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 Celsius) and humidity rose above 55%.

“It was very humid conditions. Difficult to play but that is why we train and try to get ourselves in the best conditions to deliver. Not easy but you have to fight,” said Djokovic.

Fritz had only lost service once in four three-set wins to reach his first US Open quarter-final, but the 25-year-old was broken three times in a row to begin the encounter.

Djokovic saved four break points at 2-1 in the second set then pushed himself over the line after a tense final few games in the third set to keep his hopes of a victorious return to world number one alive next week.

To beat Tiafoe 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (9/7), 6-2, Shelton hit 50 winners and used his booming service and scorching forehand to lethal effect.

Shelton, who reached the quarter-finals on his Australian Open debut in January, is through to the last four of a major for the first time.

He becomes the youngest American men’s semi-finalist in New York since 1992.

Shelton, 20, saved a set point as he won a crucial third-set tie-break and pulled away in the fourth to settle a historic first Grand Slam quarter-final in the Open era featuring two African-American men.

“It doesn’t get much better than that,” world number 47 Shelton said of a first-time meeting with Djokovic scheduled for Friday.

“I feel like I left it all out here tonight. It was an emotional battle.”

“End of that third set is when I really had to dig deep,” said Shelton.

“I think that was the key for me tonight. Just being tough and being relentless, and knowing that I could go the distance physically no matter how bad it hurt.”

Tiafoe regretted giving Shelton too many chances to stay in the match.

“Leave door open for a lot of guys, you’re playing with fire,” he said. “Just gonna learn from these moments… It hurts now.”

Gauff cools off Ostapenko 

Gauff advanced to the fourth round earlier on Tuesday, defeating Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko in 68 minutes in the sweltering midday heat.

Since Serena Williams in 2001, the 19-year-old became the first American youngster to reach the US Open semi-finals.

In a rematch of the title match won by Gauff last month in Cincinnati, the sixth seed will face this year’s French Open runner-up Karolina Muchova for a spot in Saturday’s final.

“It feels great, I’m so happy,” said Gauff. “Last year I lost in the quarter-finals stage and wanted to do better this year. I have a long way to go but I’m happy and will be ready for the next one.”

Gauff has now won 16 of 17 matches since her first round loss at Wimbledon, her recent titles in Washington and Cincinnati establishing herself as one of the US Open favourites.

“There’s still a lot of tennis left to play, and it’s a long match and a long tournament,” said Gauff.

“You know, even though the semi-finals, by theory, if you want to win there’s two matches left. You can’t think like that.”

Muchova reached her second Grand Slam semi-final of the season with a 6-0, 6-3 demolition of veteran Romanian 30th seed Sorana Cirstea.

The 10th-seeded Czech broke six times and hit 32 winners in a consummate performance.

“I’m just trying to keep things actually pretty easy and don’t put much expectations on me,” said Muchova.

Cirstea, 33, had been playing in the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam for only the second time in a professional career that began in 2006.

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