• US Open

Djokovic semi-final lies in wait for Murray

ESPN staff
August 22, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
Andy Murray broke his Grand Slam duck at last year's US Open © PA Photos
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Defending champion Andy Murray could face world No.1 Novak Djokovic in the US Open semi-finals, while Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer - who have never played each other at Flushing Meadows - might meet in the last eight.

Murray earned his first Grand Slam title by beating Djokovic in the 2012 US Open final, then added a second by beating the same man to the Wimbledon title last month. But there can't be a rematch in New York in the final, thanks to Thursday's draw.

Nadal overhauled Murray as world No. 2 this week after winning back-to-back ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles in Montreal and Cincinnati.

First up for Murray is Michael Llodra, ranked 49th in the world, whom he has beaten in all three of their previous meetings, most recently in straight sets at the 2012 Australian Open.

Play at the year's final Grand Slam tournament begins on Monday.

In addition to Nadal against seventh-seeded Federer, a 17-time major winner who has his lowest seeding at the US Open since he was 13th in 2002, the other possible men's quarter-finals are 2011 champion Djokovic against 2009 champion Juan Martin del Potro, Murray against Tomas Berdych, and David Ferrer against Richard Gasquet.

Federer, a five-time US Open winner, and Nadal also were set up for a possible quarter-final at Wimbledon this year, but that never materialised: Nadal lost in the first round, and Federer in the second.

The potential women's quarter-finals at the US Open are top seed Serena Williams against Angelique Kerber, second seed Victoria Azarenka against Petra Kvitova, Agnieszka Radwanska against Li Na, and Sara Errani against Caroline Wozniacki.

2006 champion Maria Sharapova, originally seeded third for the tournament, withdrew on Wednesday because of a right shoulder injury.

Williams' 16 Grand Slam titles include four at the US Open, including last year. Her first-round opponent will be Francesca Schiavone, the 2010 French Open champion. Williams could play 15th-seeded Sloane Stephens of the United States in the fourth round; Stephens won their Australian Open quarter-final in January.

Williams' older sister, 2000 and 2001 US Open champion Venus, is unseeded and was drawn to play No. 12 Kirsten Flipkens, a Wimbledon semifinalist last month, in the first round next week.

Djokovic and Nadal, the 2010 US Open champion who recently overtook Murray at No. 2 in the rankings, can meet only in the final. They've already met in five Grand Slam finals, including in New York in 2010 and 2011.

One intriguing earlier contest for Nadal, a 12-time major title winner, could come in the fourth round, when he might have to play 6-foot-10 John Isner, the big-serving American who is seeded 13th and pushed Nadal to five sets at the French Open two years ago.

Nadal was drawn to play another American, 21-year-old Ryan Harrison, in the first round.

Djokovic, who has reached at least the semifinals at the US Open in each of the past six years, could face Grigor Dimitrov in the third round. Dimitrov surprisingly beat Djokovic on clay at the Madrid Masters in May, although Djokovic won their match less than a month later at the French Open.

In the second round, Djokovic might play Lukas Rosol, the man who upset Nadal at Wimbledon while ranked 100th in 2012, or Benjamin Becker, who defeated Andre Agassi at the 2006 US Open in the American's last professional match.

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