Novak Djokovic may have dropped his first set of this year's US Open, but it proved a mere blip as the world No. 1 powered past Mikhail Youzhny and in to the semi-finals.
Djokovic, edged out 21st seed Youzhny 6-3 6-2 3-6 6-0 in the night session to reach the last four at Flushing Meadows for a seventh year running.
It is also the 14th consecutive time he has reached the semi-finals of a major - a run stretching back to Wimbledon in 2010. Only Roger Federer, with 23, has bettered this record. The best Rod Laver and Ivan Lendl - tied for third on the all-time list - could do was 10.
Most consecutive grand slam semi-finals
- 23 Roger Federer (2004 Wimbledon - 2010 Australian Open)
- 14 Novak Djokovic (2010 Wimbledon - 2013 US Open)
- 10 Rod Laver (1960 Wimbledon - 1962 US Championships)
- 10 Ivan Lendl (1985 US Open - 1988 Australian Open)
- 8 Ashley Cooper (1957 Australian Championships - 1958 US Championships)
- 7 Jack Crawford (1933 Australian Championships - 1934 Wimbledon)
The last time Djokovic fell short of the semi-finals in a major was three years ago when Jurgen Melzer needed five sets to beat him in the quarters at Roland Garros.
"I've always tried to play my tennis best in the grand slams," Djokovic said afterward. "This is the biggest stadium we have in sport. The atmosphere is electric. I was really enjoying the whole match.
"I played really well except that third set, but credit to him."
Djokovic was not especially sharp, making 45 unforced errors, versus only 32 winners, while his serve was broken twice.
Youzhny looked pretty frisky in the opening game, forcing two break points on Djokovic's serve. But the 26-year-old Serb, moving Youzhny from side to side with a purpose, saved them and won the game with a forehand winner. And then he came right back to break Youzhny for a 2-0 lead. He won the first set -- on his third set point -- by returning an in-close overhead from Youzhny and watching as the volley reply fell into the net.
This set off a mad Djokovic backpedaling celebration that was punctuated by a vicious uppercut.
There was only one unforeseen disaster along the way to victory: a dropped set in the third. He had won all 14 sets he'd played here previously, which means Neale Fraser will continue to be the last man to win this thing without dropping a set, back in 1960.
Youzhny actually has three wins over Djokovic for his career, but all three came indoors; Arthur Ashe is as big and wide as the outdoors gets. The Russian also beat Nadal in the quarterfinals here seven years ago -- but he was only 20.
Now, Djokovic meets Wawrinka in a Saturday semi-final, after the Swiss knocked out defending champion Andy Murray.
"It's going to be a very close match for both of us" Djokovic said. "Today he showed he deserves to be in the top 10. He played some of his best tennis I've seen on the hard courts."
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