The buzz before the U.S. Open was that German players were likely to make an impact on the draw. The players most talked about were Sabine Lisicki and Andrea Petkovic, and there was also some attention paid to Julia Goerges. Goerges did make an impact, in that--injured and unable to twist her body--she fought off four match points against Peng Shaui in the third round. Lisicki, not surprisingly, was easily defeated by 2nd seed Vera Zvonareva. Today, 10th seed Petkovic lost in straight sets to Caroline Wozniacki.
But we do have a German player in the semifinals, and that player is Angelique Kerber. Kerber, ranked number 92 in the world, defeated seed 26th seed Flavia Pennetta today, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3. Serving at 4-3 in the third set, Kerber survived four break points and was able to remain steady and win the match. Her upset of a tired and unfocused Pennetta books Kerber a semifinal meeting with 9th seed Sam Stosur, who prevailed over Zonvareva in the quarterfinals.
To get to the semifinals, Kerber defeated Lauren Davis, 12th seed Agnieszka Radwanska, Alla Kudryavtseva, Monica Niculescu, and Pennetta. Going out earlier in that quarter were Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and 2006 U.S. Open champion Maria Sharapova.
There was a moment, in the second set, when it looked as though Petkovic would take her match to three sets. Defeated 6-1 in the first set by world number 1 Wozniacki, the 10th seed became much more competitive and set up a tiebreak when she broke Wozniacki twice. But even when she was competitive, Petkovic made repreated errors, usually on simple shots she had set up as winners. Wozniacki beat her 6-1, 7-6.
Stosur is now 8-2 against Zvonareva. The Russian has not beaten Stosur since 2004. Stosur, by the way, has never beaten Pennetta, but now she doesn't have to worry about that particular problem.
The other winner today was Serena Williams, who defeated 17th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 7-5, 6-1. Pavlyuchenkova double-faulted a lot, which is something we've come to expect from the young Russian star. Nevertheless, she broke Williams three times and entertained the crowd with some big shot-making. Williams got off to an especially slow start today, but was able to make up that deficit.
The semifinals have been pushed back to Saturday because of the two-day rain delay. Wozniacki will play Williams, and Kerber will play Stosur. Williams has won the U.S. Open three times; Wozniacki was the runner-up in 2009. Stosur was the runner-up at the French Open in 2010.
The semifinal featuring Wozniacki and Williams is of particular interest, since--in the opinion of most observers of women's tennis--Serena Williams is the "real" world number 1. So far, no one has taken a set off of Williams in New York.