Determined Novak Djokovic dispatches Berrettini to reach US Open semi-finals

Novak Djokovic is now just two wins away from a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam title following a four-set victory over Matteo Berrettini in the US Open quarter-finals.

The world number one recovered from losing the opening set to advance to his 12th Flushing Meadows semi-final a 5-7, 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 winner.

It also marked the third successive Slam in which Djokovic had overcome the Italian, having also prevailed at the same stage of this year’s French Open as well as the Wimbledon final.

The Serbian will overtake Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal’s tally of 20 Slam titles should he go on to lift the trophy.

He is now within touching distance of becoming only the second male player of the Open Era to win a Calendar Grand Slam – with his Australian, French and Wimbledon titles already in the bag – and first since Rod Laver in 1969.

Just like in their Wimbledon showpiece less than nine weeks earlier, Berrettini landed the first blow as he broke in game 11 on the way to taking a lengthy opening set that lasted one hour and 17 minutes.

Although, it was also a case of déjà vu from the All England Club as Djokovic came roaring back by dominating the next two sets to turn the contest on its head.

He then controlled proceedings in the fourth to set up a mouth-watering last-four clash with Alexander Zverev on Friday.

Meanwhile, Maria Sakkari became the first Greek woman to reach the singles semi-finals at the final major of the season, after a straight-sets victory over former runner-up Karolina Pliskova.

Enjoying her best run at Flushing Meadows, 17th seed Sakkari was clinical on serve; winning 22 consecutive points during her service games to take the opening set 6-4.

The same scoreline in the next did the trick for the Roland Garros semi-finalist, who will play Britain’s teenage sensation Emma Raducanu in the last four.

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Maria Sakkari beat Serena Williams at the Western & Southern Open – will Serena get revenge at the US Open?

Serena vs Sakkari is live from New York on Monday 7 September, time TBC

Serena Williams served for the match against Maria Sakkari in ‘Cincinnati’ two weeks ago and was two points from victory, but the athletic Greek pulled off a tremendous comeback from the brink of defeat, beating the American 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-1.

US Open 2020: Tournament information, schedules, latest news and live streaming information for the resilient Grand Slam in New York

With Sakkari bursting with self-belief, will Williams be able to close out the match if she gets into a winning position this time, with a place in the quarterfinals of the US Open on the line?

Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.

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Serena vs Sakkari: Head-to-head

Serena Williams and Maria Sakkari’s match at the Western & Southern Open this August, which Sakkari won 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-1, was their only meeting so far.

Serena vs Sakkari: Preview

Six-time US Open champion Serena Williams won her first two matches at this year’s tournament in straight sets, breaking a six-match streak in which all her matches had gone the distance – a streak which included defeats to Anastasija Sevastova in Fed Cup in February, Shelby Rogers in Lexington and Sakkari in ‘Cincinnati’. But Williams was back to being stretched to three when she faced fellow former US Open champion Sloane Stephens in the third round.

The match followed a familiar pattern – a fired-up, aggressive Stephens coming out and using her signature brand of seemingly effortless power to make Williams move and stretch her wide, then hitting a winner into the open court, making Williams look slow and sluggish while the older woman struggled to get what she needed out of her first serve; Williams slowly raising her level and Stephens being unable to sustain hers, and the match doing a U-turn midway through the second set. In this case, the switch happened when Stephens made a poor return on break point; Williams did not look back, serving better and better as Stephens fell away. By the time she closed out the 2-6, 6-2, 6-2 match, ending with 12 aces, 29 winners and 23 unforced errors, Williams was in complete control.

US Open Predictions and Betting Tips: Outright winner tips for men’s & women’s singles at the 2020 US Open

Having a day off to recover and rest is a crucial advantage for Williams, who struggled physically with long matches on back-to-back days in Lexington and ‘Cincinnati’. But when it comes to fitness, it’s difficult not to conclude that Sakkari reigns supreme. The 25-year-old Greek player somehow seems to have got fitter than ever during the six months that WTA Tour tennis was suspended, and if she doesn’t have the big serve or outright explosive point-ending power of Williams, she can run for days – and days.

Maria Sakkari is 9-13 vs top-10 players (PA Images)

Sakkari is now 15-8 in 2020 after making the fourth round of a major for the first time at the Australian Open, the semifinals of St Petersburg and the quarterfinals of the Western & Southern Open; at the US Open, she survived three-set battles against Stefanie Voegele and Bernarda Pera before impressing in a 6-3, 6-1 victory over a discombobulated Amanda Anisimova. With a 9-13 record against top-10 players – with the majority of those victories coming either on clay or American hard courts – Sakkari is definitely a threat: She can make Williams hit a lot of balls, which is an effective formulation against the American, and she will certainly back herself to be physically able to compete no matter how long the match is, something Serena couldn’t do in ‘Cincinnati’ where she cramped in the third set.

If Williams comes out serving well, and keeping her unforced errors under control, she should win in straight sets; if she gets taken to a third set, it’s advantage Sakkari. I’m backing Serena, who was furious with herself for letting that ‘Cincinnati’ match slip away, to get the victory.

Serena vs Sakkari: Prediction