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Western and Southern Open: Day 8 Recap

The first men’s semifinal pitted seventh-seeded Juan Martin Del Potro against American John Isner in a match that featured two big servers.

Predictably, the first set went straight to a tiebreak. Both men’s serves were superb throughout the tiebreak, neither facing a minibreak until Del Potro broke for the set on a passing forehand shot with Isner at the net. First set to the Argentine, 7-6(5).

In the second set, Isner was broken to go down 5-4 after he dumped a Del Potro forehand into the net. With Del Potro serving at 7-6(5), 5-3 for the match, Isner had not seen a single break point in the match, with no reason to assume he would see one in this game.

Serving from the north end of the stadium, Del Potro had match point but double faulted, giving life to Isner, who would finally break serve on a down-the-line backhand. To no one’s surprise, the second set went to a tiebreak, but with a different store line than the first. Unlike the first tiebreak, the Del Potro serve was not invincible, as he double faulted to open the tiebreak.

Leading 10-9 and already having had four set points, Isner forced Del Potro into a cross-court forehand error as he took the second set 7-6(11) and forced a third decisive set. Del Potro looked distracted starting the third set as he gifted his opening service game to Isner, who would not look back, serving out the match without drama. Isner advances to his first Western & Southern Open final 6-7(5), 7-6(9), 6-3.

In the second men’s semifinal, third-seeded Rafael Nadal ousted sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych 7-5, 7-6(4). Berdych hung tough with Nadal throughout the first set until the eleventh game when Nadal broke Berdych on a volley that went just wide. The second set saw Berdych take a 4-2 lead behind a much more aggressive return game. Not deterred, Nadal would break back in the next game, putting the match back on serve at 4-3. Nadal would go on to win the second set tiebreak on his second match point to advance to the final.

Top-ranked Serena Williams reached her first Western & Southern Open after dispatching defending champion and fifth-seeded Li Na 7-5, 7-5. Serena’s serve was uncharacteristically average tonight, being broken five times by Na. But Na’s serve was even more troubling, being broken seven times and only winning 47% of first serve points. Serena Williams will face second-ranked Victoria Azarenka in a rematch of their 2012 US Open title match after Azarenka defeated Jelena Jankovic 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.

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