NEW YORK (AP) — Contorting his body while sliding into shots, Novak Djokovic used his typical relentless defense to reach the U.S. Open semifinals for the seventh year in a row.
Not quite as unflinchingly dominant as he was during his first four matches in the tournament, the top-seeded Djokovic quickly overcame a one-set lull Thursday night against 21st-seeded Mikhail Youzhny of Russia before finishing off a 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-0 victory.
"Level of confidence is right at the top, very close, because I have been playing most of my matches here very aggressive, very dominantly," Djokovic said. "I have been very satisfied with my performances overall in the whole tournament so far. And even tonight, even though I dropped a set, I feel I was in control."
It put Djokovic in his 14th consecutive Grand Slam semifinal, a 3½-year stretch that is the second-longest in men's tennis history. Roger Federer's record is 23.
"I've been always trying to play my best tennis at Grand Slams," said Djokovic, whose six trophies from his sport's most important tournaments include the 2011 U.S. Open.
He won the first 14 sets he played these two weeks, taking under two hours to advance each time. But he faltered against Youzhny in the third, making 16 unforced errors and getting broken twice — the only service games Djokovic lost in the match.
"After I lost (the) third set, I definitely tried to regroup and focus on every point individually and start playing the same game that I had in first two sets," Djokovic said.
He will face ninth-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka, who upset defending champion Andy Murray 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 on Thursday to reach his first major semifinal.
While Youzhny made things interesting for a short while, Djokovic made sure there would not be another big surprise.
Now he gets a chance to try to reach a fifth U.S. Open final. In addition to his title, he was the runner-up in New York in 2007, 2010 and 2012.
That loss a year ago came against Murray, who also beat Djokovic in the Wimbledon final this July.
But Djokovic doesn't need to worry about that happening again.
Instead, the six-time major champion will face Wawrinka. Djokovic has won 12 of their 14 tour matches, including the last 11. The most recent came on the hard courts of January's Australian Open, when Djokovic edged Wawrinka 12-10 in a fifth set en route to the championship.
"Definitely one of the most exciting matches I have played in my life on this surface," Djokovic said.