New York - Novak
Djokovic heads into the US Open semi-finals as the overwhelming
favourite to go on and lift a third title in New York, but Kei
Nishikori, Stan Wawrinka and Gael Monfils are lined-up as potential road
World number one Djokovic takes a 12-0 career lead over Monfils into
their semi-final on Friday while Nishikori looks to build on his shock
five-set win over Andy Murray against Wawrinka.
Swiss third seed Wawrinka, playing in his third semi-final in four
years, ended Juan Martin del Potro's magical run in four sets in the
early hours of Thursday morning with a 7-6 (7/5), 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 win.
World number one Djokovic, chasing a third major of the season and
13th overall, remains wary of the dangers posed by 30-year-old Monfils
who is in only his second semi-final at the Slams.
"Gael's one of the few players that I will definitely pay a ticket to watch," said Djokovic.
"He seems more focused at this time of his career and I am definitely expecting a tough battle."
Tenth-seeded Monfils has lost twice to Djokovic in New York - in
five sets in the first round in 2005 and a straight sets defeat in the
But he is enjoying one of the best spells of his career, winning the
title in Washington and making the semi-finals at the Toronto Masters
where he lost to Djokovic again.
Monfils is on an impressive 19-2 run since Wimbledon but admits he's
the underdog against Djokovic, the 2011 and 2015 champion playing in a
10th successive semi-final in New York.
"He's better player than me, definitely," said Monfils who has yet to drop a set but hasn't faced a seeded player.
Djokovic should be the fresher having completed just two full matches in five rounds.
He was handed a walkover into round three and was then the beneficiary of two injury-hit retirements.
All of which means the Serb has spent just 4 hours and 34 minutes on
court; Monfils has been out there four minutes short of 12 hours.
Nishikori reached the
semi-final - his first at any Slam since he finished runner-up in New
York in 2014 - with an impressive 1-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-1, 7-5 triumph over
world number two and 2012 champion Murray.
It was just his second win in nine matches with the Briton but he is happy chasing down deficits.
Against Wawrinka, he trails 3-2 but won their last meeting in the Toronto semi-finals this summer.
He also beat the 31-year-old in five sets in the quarter-finals of the US Open in 2014.
"We just played in Toronto. He's been playing good tennis," said Nishikori who has a double target this weekend.
He can become Asia's first Grand Slam men's singles champion while the title would net him a windfall of $3.5 million.
Nishikori will be happy not to be facing del Potro who has a 4-0 lead
in their rivalry and has never conceded a set to the Japanese.
With second seed Murray, fourth seeded Rafael Nadal and Milos Raonic,
the fifth seed, all out of the picture, Djokovic is viewed as the most
likely to win the title on Sunday.
"I'd say Novak would be the favourite," said Murray.
Paths to the US Open men's semi-finals (x denotes seeding):
Novak Djokovic (SRB x1) v Gael Monfils (FRA x10)
1st rd: bt Jerzy Janowicz (POL) 6-3, 5-7, 6-2, 6-1
2nd rd: bt Jiri Vesely (CZE) walkover
3rd rd: bt Mikhail Youzhny (RUS) 4-2 retired
4th rd: bt Kyle Edmund (GBR) 6-2, 6-1, 6-4
QF: bt Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA x9) 6-3, 6-2 retired
1st rd: bt Gilles Muller 6-4, 6-2, 7-6 (7/5)
2nd rd: bt Jan Satral (CZE) 7-5, 6-4, 6-3
3rd rd: bt Nicolas Almagro (ESP) 6-4, 6-2, 6-4
4th rd: bt Marcos Baghdatis (CYP) 6-3, 6-2, 6-3
QF: bt Lucas Pouille 6-4, 6-3, 6-3
Stan Wawrinka (SUI x3) v Kei Nishikori (JPN x6)
1st rd: bt Fernando Verdasco (ESP) 7-6 (7/4), 6-4, 6-4
2nd rd: bt Alessandro Giannessi (ITA) 6-1, 7-6 (7/4), 7-5
3rd rd: bt Dan Evans (GBR) 4-6, 6-3, 6-7 (6/8), 7-6 (10/8), 6-2
4th rd: bt Illya Marchenko (UKR) 6-4, 6-1, 6-7 (5/7), 6-3
QF: bt Juan Martin del Potro (ARG) 7-6 (7/5), 4-6, 6-3, 6-2
1st rd: bt Benjamin Becker (GER) 6-1, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3
2nd rd: bt Karen Khachanov (RUS) 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3
3rd rd: bt Nicolas Mahut 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2
4th rd: bt Ivo Karlovic (CRO x21) 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (7/4)
QF: bt Andy Murray (GBR x2) 1-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-1, 7-5