Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Nadal advances to a familiar spot

Rafael Nadal defeats Fernando Verdasco to make his third straight U.S. Open semifinal. He has never reached a final here.

Associated Press

Rafael Nadal defeats Fernando Verdasco to make his third straight U.S. Open semifinal. He has never reached a final here.

NEW YORK — After one early miss, Rafael Nadal slapped himself on the right thigh. After another, he put his hands on his hips and stared at the spot where his shot had gone awry.

It did not take long for Nadal to put a slightly slow start behind him and move one step closer to the only Grand Slam title he hasn't won.

Nadal, the top seed, figured out how to handle the wind that has plagued the tournament this week, got his serve in gear after being broken for the only time in five matches and beat eighth seed Fernando Verdasco 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 Thursday night in the first all-Spanish quarterfinal in U.S. Open history.

"Right now, for me, it's a very, very nice feeling to be in (the) semifinals for the third time in a row for one of the most important tournaments in the world," Nadal said. "For me, probably right now, the most important."

Nadal never has reached a final in New York, losing in the semis to Andy Murray in 2008 and to eventual champion Juan Martin del Potro last year.

Saturday, Nadal — trying to complete a career Grand Slam at age 24 — faces 12th seed Mikhail Youzhny, who beat No. 25 Stanislas Wawrinka 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 3-6, 6-3, 6-3. No. 2 Roger Federer faces No. 3 Novak Djokovic in the other semifinal.

As was the case for many matches in recent days, the wind was swirling inside Arthur Ashe Stadium. It regularly topped 15 mph, with gusts reaching 25 mph, and the temperature, consistently in the 90s in Week 1, dipped to 65 degrees. "Very difficult to play. Probably one of the more difficult days," Nadal said.

Neither player seemed pleased by the conditions, and Verdasco looked up at his guest box in the second game after hitting one of his six double-faults. In the next game, however, he played some terrific sliding, stretching defense during a 20-stroke exchange he capped with a backhand passing winner to earn a break point.

He converted that but never got another chance to really rattle Nadal, who has won all 15 sets he has played at this U.S. Open and won 76 of 77 games he has served. He lost his first service game in Thursday's third game.

Youzhny's only previous trip to the semis at any Grand Slam was at the 2006 U.S. Open, and he made it by upsetting Nadal in the quarterfinals.

"It's another time, and I'm, like, another player," Youzhny said.

Thursday he hit fewer aces and fewer winners, needed treatment on his right foot in the fifth set and still came back to beat Wawrinka. "Maybe I was just a bit luckier than him," he said.

Clijsters-Venus make a multifaceted semi

Whether it's starting a family or a business, Kim Clijsters and Venus Williams have figured out how to make life about more than hitting a fuzzy yellow ball.

In today's semis, Clijsters tries to stay on track for her second straight title after a 21/2-year layoff during which she got married and had a baby, daughter Jada. The Belgian, 27, is trying to become the first woman to win back-to-back titles in New York since Williams did it in 2000-01.

"Just the ability to compete," Williams said of what impressed her most about Clijsters. "I think in coming back from her layoff … she never lost that."

That Williams has a chance to win again could be proof that diversification in life — she's been praised and criticized for business interests that keep her away from the court — has kept the seven-time major winner fresh at age 30. She has had injuries as well, including a twisted left kneecap that kept her from practicing for this Open.

"I think it's maybe even been good for her to have been away for that long," Clijsters said. "Because she looks more hungry than ever."

The winner of No. 2 Clijsters vs. No. 3 Williams plays for the title against No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki or No. 7 Vera Zvonareva. Zvonareva, this year's Wimbledon runnerup, is trying to make her second Grand Slam final of the year. Wozniacki lost to Clijsters in last year's Open final.

fast facts

Today's semifinals

Women: No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki vs. No. 7 Vera Zvonareva; No. 2 Kim Clijsters vs. No. 3 Venus Williams

TV: 12:30 p.m., Ch. 10

Nadal advances to a familiar spot 09/09/10 [Last modified: Friday, September 10, 2010 12:26am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rowdies settle for draw at home


    ST. PETERSBURG — The good news for the Rowdies is that they still haven't lost a game at Al Lang Stadium since late April. The bad news is they had to settle for a 1-1 tie against Ottawa on Saturday night in front of 6,710 sweaty fans.

  2. Bats come to life, but Rays' freefall continues (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG —The six runs seemed like a ton, just the second time the Rays had scored that many in a game during their numbing two-plus-weeks stretch of offensive impotency, and amazingly, the first time at the Trop in nearly two months.

    Lucas Duda connects for a two-run home run in the sixth, getting the Rays within 7-5. A Logan Morrison home run in the ninth made it 7-6, but Tampa Bay couldn’t complete the comeback.
  3. Rays journal: Cesar Puello, who has one major-league game, claimed off waivers

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Looking to add punch to their right-handed lineup, the Rays claimed OF Cesar Puello off waivers Saturday from the Angels.

  4. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Mariners game

    The Heater

    SS Adeiny Hechavarria doesn't always look like he's going hard, but he showed impressive reactions Saturday in reversing field to catch a ball that clanked off the catwalk then firing to second to double up Guillermo Heredia on an attempt to tag up.

  5. Bucs journal: Simeon Rice gives master class on sacks to defensive ends


    TAMPA — As the Bucs seek their first 10-sack season from a player since Simeon Rice in 2005, who better to help that cause than Rice himself?

    Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers great Simeon Rice works with defensive end Noah Spence (57) after practice at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017.