Juan Martin del Potro was aching for a second crack at a Grand Slam semifinal, a second chance to prove he has what it takes to win at that stage.
By Thursday evening, he knew he’d get that opportunity at the U.S. Open in New York, thanks to a wind-swept 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 quarterfinal victory over 16th-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia.
What the sixth-seeded del Potro still did not know by the end of the night, however, as rain washed over Flushing Meadows: The opponent he will have to beat to reach his first Grand Slam final.
That’s because the quarterfinal between six-time major champion Rafael Nadal and 2007 Australian Open runner-up Fernando Gonzalez was postponed by showers during the second set.
The first rain delay, of about 75 minutes, came at 2-2 in the second set, after Nadal won the opening set in a tiebreaker. The second interruption came at about 10:20 p.m., with Nadal holding a 3-2 lead in the second-set tiebreaker.
At midnight, tournament officials suspended play for the night, sending Nadal and Gonzalez home.
In the other men’s semifinal Saturday, No. 1 Roger Federer will face No. 4 Novak Djokovic. Federer beat Djokovic at the U.S. Open in the 2007 final and 2008 semifinals, part of an overall 8-4 head-to-head edge.
The women’s semifinals will be held today, when defending champion Serena Williams will meet 2005 champion Kim Clijsters, and Caroline Wozniacki faces Yanina Wickmayer in a matchup of 19-year-olds.
Georgia Tech avoids upset to Clemson
College football: Scott Blair kicked a 36-yard field goal with 57 seconds remaining and No. 15 Georgia Tech defeated Clemson 30-27 after squandering a 24-point lead in Atlanta.
Clemson (1-1, 0-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) scored 27 straight points, taking its first lead of the night on Richard Jackson’s 53-yard field goal with 11:33 to go.
But Georgia Tech, which did nothing offensively through most of the second and third quarters, finally came back to life. The Yellow Jackets (2-0, 1-0) put together a 69-yard drive to set up Blair’s tying kick, a 34-yarder with 5:40 left that made it 27-all. Then he won it from 36 yards.
Sabbatini states case at Cog Hill
Golf: Two days after his Presidents Cup snub, Rory Sabbatini made captain Greg Norman’s decision to leave him off the International team look even more peculiar.
Sabbatini ran off seven birdies on renovated Cog Hill in Lemont, Ill., for a 5-under 66, giving him a share of the lead with Steve Marino at the BMW International and hopes of making it to the FedEx Cup finale.
They had a one-shot lead over Bo Van Pelt and Marc Leishman, who only qualified for the third playoff event by making an eagle on his final hole Monday at the TPC Boston.
Tiger Woods, a four-time winner at Cog Hill, was among those at 68.
Referees bracing for early-season lockout
Basketball: NBA referees are prepared to be locked out for the start of the season after negotiations with the league on a new contract broke down this week when David Stern ended the latest bargaining session.
No further talks are scheduled – and when they do resume, it’ll be without the commissioner.
Referees spokesman Lamell McMorris accused Stern of acting childish and not negotiating in good faith, so Stern removed himself from the process.
•Courant re-evaluating blog: The Hartford Courant says it is re-evaluating its plan to have Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma’s daughter write a blog about the team.
The newspaper’s sports editor, Jeff Otterbein, says he hired Alysa Auriemma to give an insider’s viewpoint about her father and the team on monthly blog postings during the upcoming basketball season. Otterbein says the younger Auriemma would be paid $125 per article.
The arrangement has been criticized by a media ethics expert and journalists, who call Auriemma’s role a conflict of interest for the state’s largest daily newspaper.
•Grizzlies withdraw Navarro offer: The Memphis Grizzlies have withdrawn their qualifying offer to guard Juan Carlos Navarro, making him an unrestricted free agent.
Sports betting begins in Delaware
•Miscellany: Sports betting in Delaware officially got under way Thursday after surviving a contentious legal battle with professional sports leagues and the NCAA.
As of Thursday evening, no problems had been reported, although the betting traffic did not appear to be heavy. At 5 p.m., there was a slow, steady trickle of bettors to the sports book terminals at Dover Downs. With 31/2 hours to go before the NFL kickoff, simulcast horse racing dominated the large TV screens throughout the room.
Judge may reject both bids on Coyotes: A bankruptcy judge has raised the possibility of rejecting both bids to buy the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes.
Judge Redfield T. Baum made the comment as the two-day auction of the team began.
Baum called the possibility “more than theoretical.”
•Runner’s test results received: The IAAF has received the results of gender tests on Caster Semenya, winner of the women’s 800-meter world title last month, and will meet with the South African runner before completing its report.
In an e-mail to the Associated Press, IAAF spokesman Nick Davies said he couldn’t confirm a story in Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald newspaper stating that tests show Semenya has male and female sexual organs.
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