Federer unable to overcome Berdych
Tennis:Roger Federer was knocked out of the US Open in the early hours of this morning when he lost a quarter-final thriller to Tomas Berdych, marking his earliest exit from New York in nine years. The world number one was unable to conjure up any of his old magic after the Czech made a flying start and stormed to a surprise victory, 7-6 6-4 3-6 6-3.
Although Berdych has never won a grand slam title, the sixth seed is a gifted player who has been a thorn in Federer's side before, most famously in 2010 when he beat the Swiss master at Wimbledon. He made a nervous start in the bear pit that is the Arthur Ashe Stadium, losing his opening service game, but was almost untouchable for the next hour and a half, cracking winners to every part of the court.
Federer was staring at defeat when he went down a break in the third but through sheer force of will, he raised his game and won the set, unsettling Berdych with perfectly disguised drop shots and some outrageous passes down the line and across the court.
But Berdych regained his composure in the fourth set and claimed the crucial break in the eighth game before serving out for victory. His semi-final opponent is Andy Murray, who won the Olympic gold medal in London, and lurking on the other side of the draw is the defending champion Novak Djokovic.
For Federer, a five time winner at the US Open, it marked the first time he had failed to make the semis since 2003, the same year he won the first of his record 17 grand slams titles.
"It couldn't be better," Berdych said in a courtside interview. "There is no better feeling. There is no better moment than this one."
Federer could not hide his disappointment after arriving in the Big Apple full of hope following his win at Wimbledon in July. "There were so many moments I thought, man, it's just not happening for me," he explained. "It was just a very disappointing match for me."
Andy Roddick made his final appearance at Arthur Ashe Stadium when he lost to Juan Martin del Potro in the fourth round, while Murray and Maria Sharapova both dug themselves out of trouble to stay alive on a drama-charged day at the last grand slam of the year.
Only Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic had an easy time, both romping to comfortable victories to enhance their status as the favourites for the singles titles. Djokovic was in complete control of his fourth round match against Stanislas Wawrinka, leading 6-4 6-1 3-1, when the Swiss called it quits in one of five matches that were held over from Tuesday because of rain.
"I really don't know exactly what it was but by the look of it, I think it was probably a dizziness or something," said Djokovic, the only man yet to drop a set in the tournament. "He served well, he played well, but you could see that he didn't feel great on the court."
Sharapova needed all her fighting qualities to come from behind and beat Marion Bartoli of France 3-6 6-3 6-4 and reach the semi-finals for the first time since she won in New York in 2006. Bartoli led 4-0 overnight and wrapped up the first set when play finally resumed after another morning shower but Sharapova regained her composure to win the next two and book a semi-final against world number one Victoria Azarenka.