NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — That Novak Djokovic would reach his 10th consecutive U.S. Open semifinal should surprise no one. That he’s done it by playing only two complete matches because three opponents pulled out of the tournament with injuries is as odd as can be.
Djokovic, the No. 1 seed and defending champion, once again needed to put in very little work, advancing when No. 9 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga stopped because of a hurt left knee after the first point of their quarterfinal’s third set Tuesday night.
The first two sets went Djokovic’s way 6-3, 6-2. At the ensuing changeover Tsonga was visited by a trainer and had his left leg taped below the knee. Tsonga double-faulted to begin the third set, then retired from the match.
This came after Djokovic’s second-round opponent, Jiri Vesely, withdrew from the tournament with a sore left forearm. And the man Djokovic was supposed to play in the third round, Mikhail Youzhny, quit after six games because of a strained left hamstring.
During his on-court interview, Djokovic was posed the question on everyone’s mind by ESPN’s Brad Gilbert: “What in the world is going on?”
“You tell me. I don’t know, really,” Djokovic replied. “Obviously, I have to say it again: I really wish Jo a quick recovery. It’s never nice to be on the court in a quarterfinal of a Grand Slam and retiring a match after a few sets.”
In Thursday’s semifinals, Djokovic will play No. 10 Gael Monfils, who advanced earlier against No. 24 Lucas Pouille, the man who eliminated Rafael Nadal in the fourth round. Playing steadily, and with only a dose of the spectacular, Monfils reached his first major semifinal since 2008 by beating an error-prone Pouille 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.
All in all, the spectators with tickets for Tuesday did not get much competitive or quality tennis. All four matches were decided in straight sets — or, in the case Djokovic vs. Tsonga, even fewer.
In the first women’s quarterfinal, Roberta Vinci fell apart after losing the opening set on a foot fault, allowing No. 2 seed Angelique Kerber to take the last nine games and win 7-5, 6-0.
Vinci was the runner-up at Flushing Meadows a year ago, reaching her first major final by stunning Serena Williams to end the American’s bid for the first calendar-year Grand Slam in more than a quarter-century.
Kerber, who has a chance to overtake Williams at No. 1 in the WTA rankings after the tournament, moved into her third Grand Slam semifinal of the year. She beat Williams to win the Australian Open for her first major championship, then lost to Williams in the Wimbledon final in July.
Kerber’s first U.S. Open semifinal since 2011 will come against two-time runner-up Caroline Wozniacki, a 6-0, 6-2 winner against Anastasija Sevastova, who injured her right ankle in the second game and was never able to get herself going in the match.
Wozniacki is a former No. 1 who is ranked only 74th after a tough season that included injuries and zero Grand Slam match wins until last week.
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