NEW YORK – Roger Federer saved two match points while coming all the way back from a two-set deficit to beat Gael Monfils 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 Thursday night and reach the U.S. Open semifinals for the first time since 2011.
Frustrated by Monfils’ unpredictable style, flummoxed by the swirling wind, and missing shots he normally makes, Federer twice was a single point from losing while down 5-4 in the fourth set.
But he got out of that hole, starting a five-game run that put the match in his control for the first time all evening. It helped that Monfils’ quality of play dipped, including what wound up being a total of 10 double-faults.
This was the ninth time Federer has won a match after dropping the opening two sets.
The 20th-seeded Monfils was trying to reach his second career Grand Slam semifinal. Instead, Federer advanced to his 36th, ninth at Flushing Meadows. Five of Federer’s record 17 major singles titles have come at the U.S. Open, but he exited in the quarterfinals in 2012, and the fourth round in 2013.
On Saturday, the second-seeded Federer will play 14th-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia. The other semifinal will be No. 1 Novak Djokovic against No. 10 Kei Nishikori; their quarterfinal victories came Wednesday.
Year after doping ban, Cilic reaches semis
Marin Cilic wasn’t allowed to play last year in the U.S. Open, forced to the sideline by a four-month doping suspension that he says he didn’t deserve.
Home in Croatia, he set about improving his game and his fitness, eager to be a better player when he returned to the tennis tour. Now, he figures, that time off from competition is paying off on the court.
The 14th-seeded Cilic reached the second Grand Slam semifinal of his career, and first since 2010, by beating sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (4).
“I mean, it was a difficult period. I didn’t know when I’m going to start back. But (it) was also (a) good period for me,” Cilic said, thinking back to 12 months ago. “I matured a bit more and I was working, day after day. I wasn’t relaxing and doing nothing. So I think that helped me to improve physically. Also, it helped me to have enough time to put some new parts in my game, which are helping me to play this good now.”
Cilic, a former top-10 player, tested positive for a stimulant after a match in Germany in May 2013, and the International Tennis Federation sought a two-year ban. He said he ingested the substance unintentionally via a glucose tablet bought at a pharmacy.
Martina Hingis reaches women’s doubles final
Martina Hingis will play in the women’s doubles final for the first time since winning the 1998 title.
Hingis, inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame last year, and partner Flavia Pennetta beat the third-seeded duo of Cara Black and Sania Mirza 6-2, 6-4 on Thursday.
Hingis, who turns 34 on Sept. 30, ended her latest retirement to play doubles last year. She has won nine Grand Slam titles in doubles and five in singles.
Hingis’ only U.S. Open doubles championship came 16 years ago, when her partner was Jana Novatna.
Bryan brothers chasing 100th title
Bob and Mike Bryan won another tough three-set match to move within one victory of their 16th Grand Slam title.
The top-seeded twins beat fellow Americans Scott Lipsky and Rajeev Ram 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 on Thursday in the men’s doubles semifinals.
The Bryans are seeking their fifth U.S. Open championship and 100th career doubles title.