US Open 2020: Thiem to meet Medvedev in semi-finals after beating De Minaur; Williams to face Azarenka
Serena Williams came from a set down to overcome unseeded Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova and keep alive her bid for a 24th singles Grand Slam title at US Open.
Serena Williams battled into the semi-finals of the US Open where she will meet Victoria Azarenka, as Dominic Thiem booked his place in the last four of the men's draw on Wednesday, he will face Daniil Medvedev.
Williams, seeded third, came from a set down to overcome unseeded Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova and keep alive her bid for a 24th singles Grand Slam title at Flushing Meadows.
Later, Azarenka blew away Belgium's Elise Mertens as she continues her hunt a first Grand Slam title in seven years.
Williams' comeback included two astonishing shots with her left hand that contributed to winning points.
"At that point I was fighting so hard. I was just trying to do everything I can whether righty or lefty," she said.
A sluggish start saw the American lose the first 6-4, but she fought back to take the next two 6-3, 6-2, in 2hr 12min inside Arthur Ashe Stadium.
"I never give up and you know I just gotta keep going," Williams added.
Williams smashed 20 aces, the most she has had in eight years, taking her tally for the tournament to 64 so far.
The record for the most number of aces in a US Open in the women's singles is 70, set by Williams in 1999 when she won for the first time.
"Sometimes when I'm serving, I just tell myself, I don't care if my arm falls off, I'm going to keep serving," she said.
Williams is looking to match Margaret Court's record for the most number of singles Grand Slam wins.
It has been more than three years since she won her 23rd at the 2017 Australian Open -- when she was already pregnant with daughter Olympia.
Williams has come close since, reaching four major finals only to come away empty handed.
In the last four she will renew her rivalry with former world number Azarenka who demolished Mertens 6-1, 6-0 in just 1hr 13 min.
Williams defeated Azarenka in the final of the US Open in 2012 and 2013.
The last few years of Azarenka's career have been interrupted by a custody battle over her son who was born in 2016.
Azarenka said she found it "hard to accept losses" when she was young and at the top of her game, but was now benefiting from a more philosophical attitude.
"I enjoy the moment no matter what it is. I take life as it comes," Azarenka told reporters.
"It took me a long road to come here with a lot of struggles, a lot of understanding, forcing me to find this route, this path, if you can say that. But I'm here and I'm happy."
In the men's draw, Thiem advanced to the semi-finals with a 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 victory over Alex de Minaur in the last match of the day.
The second-seeded Thiem is set for a date at Flushing Meadows with Medvedev. Medvedev is the 2019 US Open runner-up and reached the last four with a win over Andrey Rublev. The other men’s semi-final will be No 5 Alexander Zverev vs. No 20 Pablo Carreno Busta.
None of the remaining men has won a Grand Slam title.
It’s an unusual look for the final four left on the men's side. Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic are not in the semi-finals. Nadal and Federer did not play and Djokovic, the top seed, was kicked out of the US Open for accidentally hitting a line judge in the throat with a tennis ball.
Thiem says once he steps on the court “the other three are forgotten anyway.”
Thiem is still on the hunt for his first major championship after two losses in the French Open final and this year at the Australian Open.
Earlier, Russia's Medvedev downed compatriot and childhood friend Rublev 7-6 (8/6), 6-3, 7-6 (7/5).
Twenty-two-year-old Rublev raced to a 5-1 lead in the first-set tie-break before Medvedev, last year's US Open runner-up, hauled back to win it 8-6 with an ace.
Medvedev, 24, smashed 16 aces and won 89 percent of first-serve points. He made 75 percent of returns to Rublev's 54 percent.
"One point decided two sets so it was a really tough match and Andrey was playing unbelievable actually," Medvedev said.
With AP and AFP inputs
On Court Philippe Chatrier, Federer kicked off only his second French Open campaign in six years with an impressive dismissal of Denis Istomin.
Williams needed three sets to get by Mihaela Buzarnescu in the previous round and she clearly did not want to go the distance again this time, beating Collins 6-4, 6-4.
Elsewhere, third seed Aryna Sabalenka beat fellow Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich 7-5, 6-3 and will next play Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.