Andy Murray went more than a year between victories over top-10 opponents.
Now he needs to make it two in a row.
Article continues below ...
In the U.S. Open quarterfinals Wednesday night, he will face No. 1 Novak Djokovic, the seven-time major champion Murray beat in the final for his two Grand Slam titles — at Flushing Meadows in 2012, and at Wimbledon in 2013.
The latter had been Murray’s most recent win against someone ranked in the top 10 until he got past Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the fourth round Monday.
"That’s really why we play the game. That’s what you put the work in for, so that when you come to these events, and you do have to play against the best players, that you’re ready," the eighth-seeded Murray said. "As much as it’s incredibly tough and challenging, the match, that’s what you enjoy."
Djokovic, the 2011 U.S. Open champion and a participant in the past four finals in New York, has won 12 of 20 career meetings against Murray.
Both men are superb returners and ball-retrievers, able to swing from defense to offense in a blink.
"A lot of the matches have been long games, long rallies, long points," Murray said, "because we do a lot of the same things well."
Coming off a victory that ended at nearly 2:30 a.m. Tuesday, 10th-seeded Kei Nishikori won’t have a lot of time to recuperate before his quarterfinal Wednesday afternoon against No. 3 Stan Wawrinka.
Nishikori did not exactly enjoy perfect pre-tournament preparation for the U.S. Open, missing time after having a cyst removed from his right foot in early August.
He only resumed practicing points a couple of days before play began at Flushing Meadows last week.
"I wasn’t expecting (a) big result like this," he said following his five-set upset of No. 5 Milos Raonic in the fourth round, "but after the first round, I (got) more confidence on my foot."
If he can beat Australian Open champion Wawrinka, Nishikori would be the first Japanese semifinalist at a Grand Slam tournament in 81 years.
Serena Williams is coming off another odd showing in doubles, needing a medical timeout to have her right ankle re-taped, and then double-faulting on the last two points of a loss Tuesday alongside her older sister Venus.
In the singles quarterfinals Wednesday night, two-time defending champion Williams faces 11th-seeded Flavia Pennetta of Italy.
Williams is 5-0 against Pennetta, a 2013 semifinalist in New York, and has won all but one of the sets they’ve played — and that was in a tiebreaker.
Williams enters on an 18-match U.S. Open winning streak and has dropped only 17 games in this year’s tournament.
In the afternoon, 16th-seeded Victoria Azarenka — the woman Williams beat in the title matches at Flushing Meadows in 2012 and 2013 — will face 17th-seeded Ekaterina Makarova in another quarterfinal.
Azarenka has won the Australian Open twice and used to be ranked No. 1, but she’s missed time this season because of foot and knee injuries. She delivered what might have been the answer of the tournament when a reporter used the word "suffered" while referencing Azarenka’s recent health problems.
"You’re making it sound like … I almost died and, you know, there was 10 sharks, and I got attacked, and I survived. And, you know, I saved a dolphin, as well," Azarenka said. "It’s not that complicated, really. What I enjoy is to play tennis. To be talking about what happened with my injuries, I mean, it’s useless already."