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Tennis: Peng beats Bencic to reach U.S. Open semis

First Published Sep 02 2014 12:24PM      Last Updated Oct 03 2014 02:16 pm

New York • Gael Monfils follows his own rules.

The guy does things on a tennis court no one else has — or can. Just search his name on YouTube and watch any of many video clips showcasing his speed and agility; start with the parallel-to-the-ground, a-few-feet-in-the-air dive at this year’s French Open.

He sips soda during breaks in his matches, raising the can in a toast to his agent.

He is currently without any coach at all, in an era when some players have two.

What Monfils has never done, despite all his talent — and in some cases, because he has appeared to value style over substance right there on court, in the middle of a point, preferring the spectacular to the sufficient — is reach a Grand Slam final. He took a step closer Tuesday at the U.S. Open during a surprisingly matter-of-fact 7-5, 7-6 (6), 7-5 victory in the fourth round over No. 7-seeded Grigor Dimitrov, a man considered one of the sport’s up-and-comers.



There is a narrative building around the 20th-seeded Monfils’ success so far this year at Flushing Meadows, where he hasn’t dropped a set en route to reaching the quarterfinals for the first time since 2010: He has matured, is playing more carefully, more seriously.

The Frenchman, who will face Roger Federer for a spot in the semifinals, rejected that notion after Tuesday’s win.

"I’m the same. So I will say I’m a bit more lucky than I was maybe sometime in the past. I think I haven’t changed a lot, to be honest. I haven’t changed a lot," Monfils said. "I just play maybe solid today, but I’m still the same."

Federer advanced to the U.S. Open quarterfinals for the 10th time in 11 years by eliminating 17th-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 Tuesday night. Federer won the point on 35 of 52 trips to the net.

The other quarterfinal matchup on that half of the draw will be No. 6 Tomas Berdych against No. 14 Marin Cilic. Berdych beat 20-year-old Dominic Thiem 6-1, 6-2, 6-4; Cilic was a 5-7, 7-6 (3), 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 winner against No. 26 Gilles Simon, who was treated for a back problem early on.

In women’s quarterfinals Tuesday, 39th-ranked Peng Shuai of China ended the precocious run of 17-year-old Belinda Belic of Switzerland 6-2, 6-1. Peng’s next opponent will be No. 10 Caroline Wozniacki, the 2009 U.S. Open runner-up, who overwhelmed No. 13 Sara Errani 6-0, 6-1 in a wind-whipped match Tuesday night.

 

 

 

 

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AT A GLANCE

U.S. Open highlights

O Gael Monfils of France wins in straight sets to advance to the quarterfinals, where he’ll face Roger Federer.

» China’s Peng Shuai beats Swizterland’s Belinda Belic, 17, in Tuesday’s quarterfinals.


On TV

O Wednesday’s quarterfinals

10 a.m. and 4 p.m., ESPN