Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic have been doing their best this summer to maintain the established order at the top of the men’s game, but the next generation of players are continuing to make their breakthroughs
Kei Nishikori, aged 24, is through to his first Grand Slam semi-final here at the US Open and 25-year-old Marin Cilic joined him in the last four thanks to a resounding victory over Tomas Berdych. Cilic, who won 6-2, 6-4, 7-6, will next face the winner of the quarter-final between Federer and Gaël Monfils.
Cilic is not exactly a newcomer, given that he played in the Australian Open semi-finals four years ago, but the Croat has enjoyed a new lease of life since appointing Goran Ivanisevic as his coach. After a positive drugs test last year Cilic served a four-month suspension, during which he fell out of the world’s top 40, but he has since climbed back to No 16 and will rise further next week.
Nishikori, who earlier this year became the first Japanese man to break into the world’s top 10, reached the semi-finals by beating Stan Wawrinka 3-6, 7-5, 7-6, 6-7, 6-4 after a marathon match lasting four and a quarter hours. He is the first Japanese man to reach a Grand Slam singles semi-final since Jiri Satoh at Wimbledon in 1933 and the first to make the last four here since Ichiya Kumagae in 1918.
In today’s women’s semi-finals current and former world No 1s will take on opponents playing at this stage of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time. Caroline Wozniacki, who was world No 1 for 67 weeks in 2010 and 2011, faces China’s Shuai Peng, who has never won a singles title at tour level but has won 16 in doubles.
Serena Williams, who is currently in her 204th week at the top of the rankings, faces the world No 18, Ekaterina Makarova, who beat the American at the Australian Open two years ago. Williams, who was the only one of the top nine women’s seeds to make the quarter-finals, remained on course to win the title for the third year in a row when she crushed Flavia Pennetta 6-3, 6-2 in just 63 minutes.