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Serena survives Pironkova scare to enter US Open semis

Reuters / AFP/New York
Filed on September 9, 2020
Serena Williams returns the ball during her quarterfinal match against Tsvetana Pironkova. - AFP

Pablo Carreno Busta beats Shapovalov in a roller-coaster of a five-setter.

Serena Williams was forced to dig deep to secure a 4-6 6-3 6-2 US Open quarterfinal victory over unseeded Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova on Wednesday, keeping alive her latest bid for a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title.

Williams, a six-times champion in New York, struggled with Pironkova's slice forehand early and was at risk of her earliest US Open exit in 14 years until she used her experience to find a way back.

For Pironkova, who dropped to 0-5 in career head-to-head meetings with Williams, the loss marked the end of a surprise New York run given this was her first professional tournament since Wimbledon in 2017.

Up next for the 38-year-old Williams, who has been pushed to three sets in her last three victories, will be either Belgian 16th seed Elise Mertens or former world number one Victoria Azarenka of Belarus.

In the men's section, Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain defeated Canada's Denis Shapovalov in a roller-coaster of a five-setter to reach the semifinals.

The 20th seed overcame his 12th-seeded opponent 3-6, 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/4), 0-6, 6-3 in 4hr 8min inside Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The Spaniard will play fifth seed Alexander Zverev of Germany, who progressed to the semis earlier Tuesday, for a place in Sunday's final.

"I'm destroyed, but I'm very, very happy after this fight, this battle," said Carreno Busta, who was a US Open semifinalist in 2017. He said it was "incredible" to be back in the last-four again after working "very, very hard" with his coach during the quarantine shutdown.

Carreno Busta admitted though that fortune was on his side at times in the match. "I was a little bit lucky here," the 29-year-old said. Shapovalov was undone by ill-timed double faults and misplaced shots during key moments of the match.

His service game was particularly wayward during the two tie-break sets he lost. Shapovalov hit 11 double faults while Carreno Busta had only one.

The Canadian smashed 76 winners compared to just 33 by the Spaniard. But Shapovalov was also his own worst enemy, recording a whopping 77 unforced errors to the 42 hit by Carreno Busta.

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