Sunday 20 August 2017 / 12:54 AM

MONFILS CARRIES FRENCH HOPES AT US OPEN

World No.1 Novak Djokovic’s unbelievable luck continued on Tuesday at Flushing Meadows as his opponent was unable to complete the match for the third time in five rounds. He led ninth-seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-3 6-2 before the Frenchman retired with a left knee injury.

Djokovic did not strike a ball in round two when Jiri Vesely – a player who has beaten Djokovic this year – withdrew with a forearm injury and only played half an hour in round three before Mikhail Youzhny retired with a leg injury.

The Serbian’s win denies an all-French semi-final as Gael Monfils ousted compatriot Lucas Pouille earlier in the day 6-4 6-3 6-3. Indeed, there were three French male players who made the last eight and all three were in one half of the draw.

Monfils took advantage of a clearly fatigued Pouille, who had played three consecutive five-set matches, including the upset of Rafael Nadal in a fifth-set tiebreak. No player has ever won four straight five-setters in the Open era.

Monfils, who has just turned 30, is now the sole hope for France as he looks to break the country’s major drought. As much depth as the French have, they haven’t had a grand slam men’s winner since Yannick Noah in 1983. Monfils has not dropped a set all tournament and is into his first Slam semi since the 2008 French Open. The bad news for Monfils is that he has never beaten Djokovic, a worrying 0-12 in previous meetings.

In the women’s quarterfinals, world No.2 Angelique Kerber had to battle through a gruelling first set before easing past last year’s runner up Roberta Vinci 7-5 6-0. Kerber had to find a way to combat her Italian opponent’s tricky sliced backhand, which famously helped her end Serena Williams’ quest for a calendar year grand slam last year in one of the biggest upsets of all time.

The German is having the best season of her career and will now play Caroline Wozniacki for a place in the final, the Dane breezing past Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova 6-0 6-2. Sevastova was handicapped for most of the match with an ankle injury which required heavy strapping after an awkward fall in the second game.

Wozniacki has spent 67 weeks as the No.1 in the world but has slipped to 74th in the WTA rankings after a terrible last 12 months. But it is in New York where she has the fondest memories, having made the final in 2009 and 2014.

Speaking of the No.1 ranking, Kerber is a big chance of dethroning Serena at the summit after the American has spent a record-equalling 188 consecutive weeks there. The two, who have built a strong rivalry recently, could be on a collision course for a third grand slam final this year.

Kerber can reach the top if Serena loses before the final or beats Serena if they both make the final.

On the potential of becoming No.1, Kerber said: “This would mean a lot for me. When I was a kid, I was always dreaming to being the No.1. Let’s see. There are still matches to go. If the day will come, it will be amazing.”

Kerber and Wozniacki have met 12 times with Kerber leading their series 7-5. They match up evenly in game styles with both known for being excellent retrievers rather than possessing power games.

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Farhan Shah

A recent addition to the roster, Melburnian Farhan is a sports nut who has come on board to provide golf, tennis, AFL and rugby league coverage for CBS.

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