Youzhny wears down Wawrinka, into semi-finals

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Mikhail Youzhny of Russia wore down marathon man Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland in five sets Thursday and advanced to the U.S. Open semi-finals.

Mikhail Youzhny of Russia celebrates a point in his match against Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland during the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York September 9, 2010. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi

The 12th-seeded Russian trailed two sets to one before coming back to claim a 3-6 7-6 3-6 6-3 6-3 victory in a grueling groundstroke battle on another cool, blustery day on Arthur Ashe center court.

“It was tough conditions,” Youzhny told reporters. “You understand you can beat him and he can beat you. I just tried to play every point.”

Wawrinka, seeded 25th, was coming off a five-set win over 20th-seeded American Sam Querrey in the fourth round following a nearly four-hour long upset of British fourth seed Andy Murray and in the end could not keep pace.

Youzhny, who also reached the semi-finals at the 2006 U.S. Open, will play top seed Rafa Nadal, who beat fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 7-5 6-3 6-4 in his quarter-final.

Wawrinka, who had spent the longest time on court among the quarter-finalists at 12 hours 27 minutes, looked like he was running out of steam, struggling with his movement and wearing a bandage on his left knee and a wrapping on his right thigh.

After dropping the fourth set and having his serve broken in the opening game of the final set he was on the ropes.

The game Swiss, playing his first grand slam quarter-final, made one last surge, breaking back to level it 2-2, reaching double break point after winning a stinging exchange of volleys at the net.

At that point, Youzhny, 28, called out the trainer to retape a toe on his right foot and when play resumed he quickly broke right back as Wawrinka double-faulted and then struck a backhand wide on break point.

The Russian gave Wawrinka no more hope, holding at love to make it 5-3 and then savoring victory after the 25-year-old Swiss weakly netted a backhand to end the four-hour match.

“It was good result but now you’re in semi-final,” said Youzhny. “I want more.”

Wawrinka, who teamed up with Roger Federer to win 2008 Olympic gold in doubles at Beijing, blasted 13 aces but also committed seven double faults and 71 unforced errors that neutralized the 48-35 advantage he registered in winners.

After a second-set tiebreaker went 9-7 in favor of the Russian, Wawrinka broke a sloppy Youzhny at love for a 2-0 lead in the third set and served out to lead two sets to one.

Youzhny returned the favor with a love-break in the second game of the fourth set and went on to force the fifth set.

Reporting by Larry Fine, Editing by Frank Pingue