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Caroline Wozniacki advances to first Slam semifinal in 2 years

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Kerber's huge lob too much for Vinci (0:31)

Angelique Kerber follows up a perfect drop shot with a lob that Roberta Vinci can't return during their quarterfinal match at the US Open. (0:31)

NEW YORK -- Doesn't matter to Caroline Wozniacki that she's ranked 74th. Or that she didn't win a Grand Slam match all year until she got to the U.S. Open. She was sure she was capable of another deep run at a major -- and she was right.

Wozniacki reached her fifth U.S. Open semifinal -- and her first semifinal at any Grand Slam tournament in two years -- by beating an injured Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia 6-0, 6-2 on Tuesday night.

"I always believe in myself, no matter what my ranking," said Wozniacki, who used to be No. 1. "I've beaten pretty much everyone in the draw before."

The 48th-ranked Sevastova twisted her right ankle on the opening point of the second game and clearly was hampered by that. During the changeover after the third game, a trainer examined and taped up the ankle during a medical timeout.

"I've rolled my ankle several times, and even this year, I was out for three months with a sprained ankle. So I feel real sorry for her," Wozniacki said of Sevastova in an on-court interview in Arthur Ashe Stadium. "It happened early in the match, and then I kept kind of just pushing her back and tried to make her move."

Wozniacki, twice the runner-up at Flushing Meadows, will meet No. 2 Angelique Kerber in Thursday's semifinals.

Kerber, making a push to move up from No. 2 in the rankings, and to earn a second Grand Slam title of 2016, rallied to win the last nine games in a 7-5, 6-0 victory over Roberta Vinci, last year's runner-up here.

"I know that I can beat everybody," Kerber said, "and this is what gives me also a lot of confidence and motivation."

It's been quite a resurgence for Wozniacki, who lost in the first round of the Australian Open, missed the French Open with that bum ankle and was beaten during the first round of Wimbledon.

But after dropping the opening set of her first-round match against Taylor Townsend at the U.S. Open, Wozniacki has won 10 sets in a row. She eliminated 2004 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in the second round and No. 8 Madison Keys in the fourth.

Wozniacki's last trip to the semifinals of a major came in 2014, when she lost the U.S. Open final to her good friend Serena Williams. Wozniacki also was a finalist in New York in 2009, losing to Kim Clijsters. Wozniacki exited in the semifinals in 2010 and 2011.

This was a tough way for Sevastova's U.S. Open to end. She hadn't ceded a set until Tuesday, beating No. 3 Garbine Muguruza, the French Open champion, and No. 13 Johanna Konta on the way to her first Grand Slam quarterfinal.

Before this tournament, Sevastova's best Grand Slam run was reaching the fourth round at the 2011 Australian Open, where she lost to -- it just so happens -- Wozniacki in their only previous meeting.

After a series of injuries, including to her back, Sevastova found tennis "depressing," and she left the sport in 2013. After more than a year away, during which she studied accounting and marketing in Austria, Sevastova decided to give the sport another go.

Against Wozniacki, she never really had a chance to play her best. After all of 24 minutes, it was 5-0, and half of Wozniacki's 22 points came via unforced errors by Sevastova.

That trend would continue, and Sevastova was visited repeatedly by the trainer. As they spoke during one changeover, Sevastova appeared on the verge of tears as she pointed to her troublesome foot.

Kerber has a chance to overtake Serena Williams at No. 1 after the tournament. Kerber moved into her third major semifinal of the year.

Kerber beat Williams in the Australian Open final in January, then she lost to Williams in the Wimbledon final in July.

"In tough moments," Vinci said about Kerber, "the mind is important."

In 2015, Vinci reached her first major final by stunning Williams to end the American's bid for the first calendar-year Grand Slam in tennis in more than a quarter century.

But after being two points from taking the first set against Kerber while serving for it at 5-4, 30-all, the No. 7-seeded Vinci faltered badly. She missed a forehand long, then netted a backhand to get broken there -- and that was just the beginning of her collapse.

Trailing 6-5 and serving at love-40, Vinci missed her first serve, then was called for a foot fault on a second serve. That resulted in a double fault, ceding the set.

As she walked to the sideline, Vinci looked at the line judge who made the call and smiled sarcastically, giving him a thumbs-up and applauding with her racket.

"If they called it," Vinci said later, "I must have done it."

It's a rare ruling in Grand Slam tennis, especially at a critical juncture -- although there was, of course, the most famous foot fault of all on the very same court:

In the 2009 US Open semifinals, Williams was angered by the same type of call: a foot fault that resulted in a double fault; in that instance, it set up match point for her opponent, Kim Clijsters. Williams brandished her racket and yelled at the line judge, and the point she was docked for that ended the match.

This time, the call ended the competitive portion of Vinci's quarterfinal: She managed to take only 10 of 38 points the rest of the way.

Vinci has been dealing with an injured left Achilles tendon -- she wore black tape in the shape of a "V" that framed her left calf -- and a bad back. Still, her varied game, filled with slices and drop shots and net rushes, gave Kerber fits for most of the first set.

"I was playing better than her," said the 33-year-old Vinci, who mentioned at her news conference that she will decide after the season whether to retire.

"I really don't want to be someone who says, 'I'm retiring,' then, after two weeks, 'No, I'm not retiring.' 'I'm retiring.' 'I'm not.' I don't know. It's something I'll need to figure out at the end of the year," Vinci said in Italian, with a laugh. "Let's see what I'm feeling and if I have a desire to continue. Putting aside my injuries, I'm playing good tennis."

But Kerber hung in there to reach her first US Open semifinal since 2011.

"I'm staying more positive and believing in my game," Kerber said. "I think that right now, I can win matches like that."