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Paes on target for double celebration

Last updated on: September 10, 2009 

Paes on target for double celebration

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There is something about the bright lights and the razzmatazz of Flushing Meadows that brings out the 'A Game' in Leander Paes.

For the second year running, the former New York-based Indian rekindled his love affair with the US Open by advancing to two doubles finals in the city that never sleeps.

Paes punched away a volley to secure a 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 semi-final win with his partner Lukas Dlouhy to knock out top seeds Bob and Mike Bryan.

"This crowd is just magic, I hope you show up again," the 36-year-old Paes told the fans after raising his fists in triumph.

He made it through to the men's final less than 24 hours after reaching the mixed doubles showpiece with Zimbabwean Cara Black.

Twelve months ago Paes suffered mixed fortunes in the finals when he and Black went on to pick up the trophy but he faltered with Dlouhy in the men's doubles showpiece.

Paes will get his first chance to increase his tally of nine grand slam crowns on Thursday when he and Black take on American duo Carly Gullickson and Travis Parrott in the mixed finale.


Image: Leander Paes and Lukas Dlouhy
Photographs: Mohammed Jaffer/SnapsIndia
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'The energy of New York is what turns me on'

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In the men's showpiece, he will face his former partner Mahesh Bhupathi after he and Mark Knowles beat Max Mirnyi and Andy Ram in the other semi 6-4, 6-2.

"I love this city, I lived here for three and a half years and I love playing here," Mumbai-resident Paes told reporters.

"The energy of New York is what turns me on. My results in the last four years, getting to a slam final every year is something that's really wonderful.

"Got a little bit of work still to do tomorrow and day after and that's where my focus is now, to use the energy of New York City... when we get on court."

Wednesday, the Indo-Czech pair steamed to a 5-1 lead in the deciding tiebreak only to see the Bryan twins wipe away the advantage.

After watching five match points vanish, Paes made no mistake on the sixth and left the American brothers flat-footed as he sent a volley flying through the middle of the court to take the tiebreak 8-6.

"In a matter of six grand slams (together) we've already won one and made semis and finals and we're on the threshold of winning another slam," Paes said referring to his 16-month association with Dlouhy.

"This could possibly be one of the best years of my career if we go out there and win Friday. For me at my age, having 10 years over Lukas, it's really wonderful to find an amazingly talented tennis player."

Dlouhy, who won his first doubles crown with Paes at the French Open in June," added: "Last year we were in the final and we are still going this great year."


Image: Leander Paes and Lukas Dlouhy
Photographs: Mohammed Jaffer/SnapsIndia
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Federer overcomes Soderling

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Five-times champion Roger Federer weathered a mighty Swedish storm before beating 12th seed Robin Soderling 6-0, 6-3, 6-7, 7-6 to reach the semi-finals of the US Open on Wednesday.

Gusting winds and the magic of Federer threw Soderling off course in a first set that flashed by in just 25 minutes.

Soderling won his first game of the contest to hold for 1-1 in the second and by the third set he had warmed up and fought back from 0-4 down in the tiebreak to snatch it 8-6.

The Swede, who had lost all 11 of his previous encounters against the world number one, had a set point to stretch the contest into a fifth set but Federer kept his eye on the ball to secure victory at 12.09 am local time.

Federer extended his own incredible record by reaching his 22nd consecutive grand slam semi-final and will take on fourth seed Novak Djokovic for a place in Sunday's showpiece.


Image: Roger Federer
Photographs: Reuters
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Wozniacki ends Oudin's Cinderella run

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Danish teenager Caroline Wozniacki ended the Cinderella ride of 17-year-old American Melanie Oudin with a decisive 6-2, 6-2 victory Wednesday that propelled her into the semi-finals.

Wozniacki, 19, belted deep groundstrokes off both wings and waited for Oudin to make mistakes, and the diminutive Georgian complied with 43 unforced errors.

The Dane's penetrating backhands drew a slew of forehand errors from Oudin and silenced the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd that had helped lift the American in earlier upsets.

Wozniacki, who has won three tournaments this year including the New Haven warm-up to the Open, became the first Danish woman to reach the semi-finals of a grand slam tournament since tennis turned professional in 1968.

"I've never passed the fourth round before," she said. "When I made the quarter-finals I was so happy. Now I'm in the semi-finals and hopefully I can try and win the next match."

Wozniacki dominated from the start, breaking Oudin's serve in the second game and again in the sixth for a 5-1 lead.

The Dane fought off a pair of break points to hold for 2-1 in the second set and did so again on her next serve on her way to winning the last four games to close out the match.

The victory put Wozniacki into the final four against unseeded Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium, who beat Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine in her quarter-final match.

"I have nothing to lose," Wozniacki said. "I'm in the semifinals of a grand slam."


Image: Caroline Wozniacki
Photographs: Reuters
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'I hope to come back next year and do even better'

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The 70th-ranked Melanie Oudin had become the darling of the tournament for her gritty comeback wins after coming to last year's tournament as a lowly ranked wild card.

She had won her last three matches after dropping the opening set, including a third-round ouster of former champion Maria Sharapova, but could not work her magic against Wozniacki, rated eighth in the world.

"She's such a strong player, she doesn't give you anything for free," Oudin told reporters.

Oudin was asked to address the crowd in a rare loser's turn in the on-court interview.

"This has been a great experience for me. I've had a great run," said Oudin.

"Caroline played a great match today. I hope to come back next year and do even better."


Image: Melanie Oudin
Photographs: Reuters
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'It feels like 2007, you know'

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Novak Djokovic appears to have rediscovered his zest for tennis after reaching his third consecutive semi-final on Wednesday.

The deep-thinking Serb was not at his best in a scrappy 7-6, 1-6, 7-5, 6-2 victory over powerful Spaniard Fernando Verdasco but after a poor showing at the year's three previous grand slams when he sometimes seemed to have the weight of the world on his shoulders the old sparkle appears to have returned.

Not that the match itself was anywhere near as entertaining as his on-court jousting with former champion turned TV pundit John McEnroe on Monday -- nearly 100 unforced errors in a match played in cool, blustery conditions put paid to that.

However, after weathering a mid-match storm in which 10th seed Verdasco's brutal forehand looked like stopping Djokovic dead in his tracks, the former Australian Open champion regained his poise to claim victory in three hours.

"It feels great (to reach the semi-finals)," Djokovic told reporters. "I haven't done that in the past three grand slams this year, so mentally it was very important for me to overcome today's challenge and to be able to win.

"I feel kind of a relief and I hope I just can continue playing well. I feel that I'm enjoying it again much more. It feels like 2007, you know, when I played finals here and did all these crazy things, impersonating the players.

"I like playing here. The surface is quite suitable to my game, the fans, the atmosphere, the entertainment, the show, I like it. And the results that I've made in the past three years show how much enjoyment I have playing here."


Image: Novak Djokovic
Photographs: Reuters
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Wickmayer rolls into semis

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Unseeded, overlooked and largely unknown on the international stage, Yanina Wickmayer moved into the semi-finals on Wednesday.

Wickmayer, who has been Belgium's top player since Kim Clijsters left the game in 2007 to start a family, bounced Ukraine's Kateryna Bondarenko 7-5, 6-4 on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The 50th ranked Wickmayer, who has failed to advance past the first round in five of her six previous career grand slam appearances, admits to being amazed at her run.

"Before this, my best result was second round," she said.

"So of course when you get to the third, fourth round, you start surprising yourself.

"But actually, I've been staying pretty calm. I've worked really hard for this."


Image: Yanina Wickmayer
Photographs: Reuters
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