A point away from going down two sets to love, Andy Murray’s US Open campaign looked sure to come to a premature end on Wednesday, but by the end of the night, and after the surprise defeat of Roger Federer, the Briton’s title hopes had soared.
Murray was down a set and 5-1 in the second against Marin Cilic, and the contest looked as good as over, but the Croat tightened, Murray seized the opportunity and the match was transformed, with the Scot careering away to win 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-2, 6-0.
“He got nervous. That was the main difference,” Murray said. “I did start playing better towards the end of the second set, and because I was in it, I started to feel that momentum was with me.”
Murray was the first man into the semi-finals and he would have fully expected to meet five-time champion Federer, who had made it to the last four at Flushing Meadows for eight straight years.
However, the Swiss put in a rare error-strewn performance and was beaten by Tomas Berdych 7-6 (1), 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. The Czech is one of the few men on tour who has Federer’s measure, having won four of their past seven matches.
“There is something in my game that he doesn’t like,” Berdych said.
Federer’s 40 unforced errors were nearly twice as many as Berdych’s 21.
“So many moments I thought: ‘Man, it’s just not happening for me,’” Federer said.
Murray had an inkling that Berdych might beat the Swiss. Peppered with questions about Federer during his news conference, Murray — who was sneaking glimpses of the score of the Federer-Berdych match — reminded everyone to -respect the Czech.
He was right, and with no Federer and no Nadal, Murray will rarely get a better opportunity to win that elusive first Grand Slam title, though defending champion Novak Djokovic remained the favorite.
It was an emotional day at the US Open, with 2003 champion Andy Roddick heading into retirement with a 6-7 (1), 7-6 (4), 6-2, 6-4 loss to Juan Martin del Potro.
He choked up during an on-court speech at Arthur Ashe Stadium, telling the crowd: “Oh, wow. For the first time in my career, I’m not sure what to say.”
“Since I was a kid, I’ve been coming to this tournament. I felt lucky just to sit where all of you are sitting today, to watch this game, to see the champions that have come and gone,” Roddick told the fans. “I’ve loved every minute of it.”
Del Potro joined the fans in standing to applaud after Wednesday’s match. He moved on to a quarter-final against Djokovic, who advanced when his opponent, No. 18 Stanislas Wawrinka, retired because of illness and fatigue while trailing 6-4, 6-1, 3-1.
Djokovic’s Serbian Davis Cup teammate, No. 8 Janko Tipsarevic, finished his rain-interrupted 6-3, 7-6 (5), 6-2 victory over No. 19 Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany, and meets No. 4 David Ferrer of Spain in the quarter-finals.
Four-time major champion Maria Sharapova won her quarter-final, coming from behind after a rain delay for the second consecutive match and defeating 2007 Wimbledon runner-up Marion Bartoli 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Sharapova was down 4-0 on Tuesday when play was stopped, but she wound up improving to 12-0 in three-set matches this year.
No Sharapova-like or Murray-esque theatrics were required by Serena Williams, who has won three of her 14 Grand Slam titles at the US Open. She hit 12 aces in her latest dominant performance, a 6-1, 6-3 victory over 2008 French Open champion Ana Ivanovic.