NEW YORK — No. 1 Novak Djokovic defeated No. 9 Andy Murray 7-6 (1), 6-7(1), 6-2, 6-4 to advance to his eighth consecutive U.S. Open semifinal. The grueling affair finally ended after 1 a.m. after three hours and 32 minutes of play. Djokovic will play No. 11 Kei Nishikori, who defeated No. 4 Stan Wawrinka in five sets earlier in the day, on Saturday.
Djokovic started quickly, racing out to a 4-1 lead before Murray was able to find his range and break back to eventually force a tiebreak. Djokovic played a clean tiebreaker to pocket the first set but again squandered a break lead in the second. The Murray forehand came alive in the second set, as he began to find his range and hit for bigger and flatter strokes to take control of the rallies. The turning point came in the fifth game of the third set. With Djokovic serving at 3-1, Murray earned two break points to get back on serve but hit two unforced errors to let the opportunities slide by. Djokovic went on to hold out the set and the physicality of Murray’s effort caught up with him in the final frame. He complained of being heavy-legged throughout the match and had to use heat packs to loosen up his back in the fourth set.
Murray, who came into the match having spent 3.5 hours more time on court than Djokovic, simply didn’t have much left in the tank to push it to five sets.