Davydenko reaches semis

Nikolay Davydenko beat Tommy Haas 4-6, 6-7 (3), 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in the US Open quarterfinals on Thursday.

updated: February 25, 2007 11:36 IST
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Nikolay Davydenko dropped the first two sets in a half-empty stadium, then came all the way back to beat Tommy Haas 4-6, 6-7 (3), 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in the US Open quarterfinals on Thursday. "It was surprising. I played three hours and was feeling OK," Davydenko said, then acknowledged that he's not all that well-known. "Who cares about Davydenko?" he imagined fans saying. "He didn't win a Grand Slam, was not No. 1." Martina Navratilova has accomplished plenty in her career, which she extended for at least one more match by teaming with fellow American Bob Bryan to reach the mixed doubles semifinals with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Germany's Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Czech Frantisek Cermak. Navratilova even hopped into the stands after chasing one shot. "You're only as old as you feel, and I certainly don't feel 49," said Navratilova, who owns 58 Grand Slam titles in singles and doubles and is retiring for a second time after this tournament. "I just wanted to inspire people." Navratilova and Nadia Petrova were eliminated in women's doubles hours earlier, losing to defending champions Lisa Raymond and Samantha Stosur 7-6 (1), 6-3. Davydenko will play his tour-leading 77th match of the season against top-seeded Roger Federer or No. 5 James Blake. The other men's semifinal on Saturday will be No. 9 Andy Roddick against unseeded Mikhail Youzhny, who upset Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals. Davydenko and Youzhny give Russia two men's semifinalists at a Grand Slam tournament for only the second time in the Open era, which began in 1968. Marat Safin and Yevgeny Kafelnikov lost in the final four at the 2001 US Open. The women's semifinals on Friday feature three women who've been ranked No. 1 and won at least one Grand Slam title. No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo plays No. 3 Maria Sharapova, and No. 2 Justine Henin-Hardenne plays No. 19 Jelena Jankovic of Serbia, who never made it beyond the fourth round of a major until this tournament. Davydenko had failed to get past the third round at the US Open before, although he did make a major semifinal at the 2005 French Open. He and Haas both looked fatigued as Thursday's match stretched on, and the German might have been feeling the effects of needing to go to fifth-set tiebreakers in each of the previous two rounds. Haas yelled, "Giddyup!" as he emerged from the locker room before the match, but by the end, he was a step slow. "In the fifth set, for me, it was probably more physical than anything. My body didn't feel good anymore," Haas said. "I was making too many unforced errors, and I couldn't cover the court as well as I did the first three or four sets." Davydenko improved to 3-0 this year in five-setters, but this one could have ended earlier than it did. He held a match point while trying to serve out the victory, leading 5-2 in the fifth, but he sailed a forehand long, and Haas wound up breaking his serve. After that game, Haas called for a trainer, who massaged both of his thighs. Davydenko showed signs of physical distress, too, occasionally limping after lunging for shots. Davydenko served for the match again at 5-4, and faced two break points, but he erased the first with a cross-court forehand winner, and the second with a 211 kph service winner, and eventually ended the match with a big forehand. Haas said Davydenko plays "like a ball machine. Gets every ball back. He doesn't really miss much. When he gets into a groove, he finds a lot of corners and makes the opponent run. That's his game, and that's working for him." Roddick's game has featured powerful serves and forehands for quite some time, but he's adding other dimensions with new coach Jimmy Connors. As he demonstrated in beating 2001 Open champion Lleyton Hewitt in straight sets in the quarterfinals late Wednesday, Roddick is playing more aggressively. He's charging the net much more than in the past, including behind some second serves, and using a suddenly effective down-the-line backhand. Those are things other coaches tried in vain to get Roddick to do. "It resonates well coming from Jimmy," said John Roddick, Andy's older brother and one of a string of coaches preceding Connors. "Jimmy obviously doesn't need a job. He doesn't need any of the fanfare that goes with it. Andy knows when it comes to Jimmy, it's very straightforward and very matter-of-fact and very simple. It definitely hits home with him." Both Roddicks talk about how Connors, a five-time Open champion who pretty much dropped out of sight after retiring in the early 1990s, gave Andy greater self-belief merely by agreeing to team up. The confidence that began to slide away at Flushing Meadows in 2005, when Roddick lost in the first round, is now restored. "Confidence is a fickle thing," John Roddick said, "but then it comes back quickly." Roddick and Connors both declined to answer questions as they walked off a practice court on Thursday. "I'm taking the rest of the day off," Roddick said, then ducked into the locker room. (AP)