NEW YORK — Serena Williams’ serve was broken for the first time at this year’s U.S. Open. Twice, in fact. She also dropped a set for the first time in the tournament, pushed to the brink by Simona Halep in the quarterfinals.

In a match filled with fantastic shotmaking and enthralling exchanges Wednesday night, neither player budged until Williams righted herself in the third set to emerge with a 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 victory to return to the semifinals.

The No. 5 Halep, the 2014 French Open runner-up, was the first seeded player Williams faced in the draw.

“I’m glad I got tested,” Williams said. “Her level really picked up in the second but I had some opportunities that I didn’t take. So what I gather from that is I really could have played better in that second set and maybe had an opportunity to win in straights. If anything that’s the biggest silver lining I take.”

Halep staved off all 12 break points held by Williams in the second set and forced a third.

“I wasn’t very happy about that but I tried not to let that get me down,” Williams said about all the chances she let slip away. “I tried to stay positive and I knew that if I did, I could just stay in the match.”

At the start of the third set, Halep held two break points at 15-40, but Williams came through to lead 1-0. Otherwise, Halep said, “The story of the match would have been different.”

Instead, Williams converted the only break chance she would get – or need – in the deciding set to go ahead 3-1, and was on her way.

She finished with 18 aces, a 50-20 edge in total winners and won the point on 26 of her 32 trips to the net.

Not bad for someone who entered the U.S. Open with questions about a sore right shoulder that began bothering her after she won Wimbledon in July.

“I don’t really like coming to the net, to be honest, but I’m good at the net, I guess,” Williams said. “I guess I’ve got to do what I’m good at.”

Her opponent Thursday will be 10th-seeded Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, who beat the 34-year-old American’s older sister, Venus, in the fourth round, then eliminated 18-year-old Ana Konjuh of Croatia 6-2, 6-2 on Wednesday to reach the first major semifinal of her career.

MEN’S QUARTERFINALS

Andy Murray lost his way, seven consecutive games and, eventually, his riveting five-set U.S. Open quarterfinal against Kei Nishikori after a loud noise from a malfunctioning sound system interrupted a key point, resulting in a do-over.

Whether or not the gong-like sound, and chair umpire Marija Cicak’s let ruling was the reason that Nishikori wound up coming back to win 1-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-1, 7-5, it surely will be what’s most remembered about the back-and-forth, four-hour match.

After all, Murray’s extended discussions with Cicak and another official about the unusual episode came during a stretch in which he dropped 12 of 14 points.

He went from a lead of two sets to one, plus a break point at 1-all, to ceding the fourth set and trailing 2-0 in the fifth.

“I could have won the match for sure,” said Murray, the No. 2 seed and 2012 champion at the U.S. Open.

Murray acknowledged a brief dip in play but preferred to focus on other reasons for allowing the sixth-seeded Nishikori to reach a Grand Slam semifinal for the first time since he was the U.S. Open runner-up two years ago.

The other quarterfinal between Stan Wawrinka and Juan del Porto was ongoing late Wednesday night.

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.