Belinda Bencic made it to her first major semi-finals after beating Donna Vekic in straight sets on Thursday at the 2019 U.S. Open.
Gael Monfils and Matteo Berrettini played out a punishing five-set affair in extreme humidity, and it was Berrettini who edged out his opponent during a tiebreak in the deciding set to make the semi-finals.
Like Bencic, it is the first time Berrettini has made the last four at a major competition.
Wednesday's Quarter-Final Results
(13) Belinda Bencic bt. (23) Donna Vekic: 7-6 (5), 6-3
(24) Matteo Berrettini bt. (13) Gael Monfils: 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (5)
Visit the U.S. Open website to see the draw in full. All stats via the tournament website.
Bencic dug deep and turned the screw on her friend Vekic, and the Swiss pulled away in the final set to seal a spot in the last four.
The pair could not be separated during the early stages of the opening set, and it was Vekic who drew first blood. The Croatian claimed a break of serve to make it 5-4, but with an opportunity to serve for the set, the No. 13 seed struck back.
In the tiebreak, Vekic gained a brief advantage as she won the opening point on her opponent's serve, but Bencic went on to claim the tiebreak 7-5.
The final set remained a tight affair. At 3-3, Vekic began to show signs of fatigue as the heat of the day rose in New York.
Vekic lost consecutive service games toward the end of the set, giving Bencic the match. The 22-year-old smashed eight aces on her way to victory, and it was the accuracy of her serve that was the difference at Flushing Meadow.
Christopher Clarey of the New York Times hailed Bencic's win:
Christopher Clarey @christophclarey
Once a wunderkind, Belinda Bencic is fulfilling her promise: into her first Grand Slam semifinal at age 22. Defeats good friend Donna Vekic 7-6 (5), 6-3. Last Swiss woman to get this far at the US Open was her mentor Martina Hingis. Faces Andreescu or Mertens on Thursday https://t.co/D5DmQ4stJP
Monfils grabbed the early advantage against Berrettini in the last eight, with the Frenchman exuding intensity and concentration in the opening set.
The No. 13 seed broke Berrettini to make it 4-2 and appeared to be in complete control. However, Monfils seemed to be affected by the heat, with his form significantly dropping off in the second.
The Italian gained strength and pace, overcoming being down a break in the second set by breaking Monfils twice. Monfils' demeanour changed as his opponent drew level at one set apiece, and Berrettini then claimed the third in 42 minutes.
Monfils appeared devoid of energy as the roof closed due to the threat of rain, but the 33-year-old had more in reserve than it appeared.
At 2-1 up, Berrettini lost his focus and Monfils went on the attack. The veteran had the crowd on his side as he played the showman after many of his winners.
Monfils broke the Italian to make it 3-1 and tied the match with the wind in his sails and the stadium on its feet.
However, Berrettini regained his composure, and Monfils' tank emptied at an alarming rate. The Rome-born player turned up the aggression and served for the match at 5-3. It appeared to be all over, but a double-fault at match point allowed Monfils to eventually gain a surprise break.
The Frenchman continued to hang in and saved yet another match point, and Monfils forced the final set into a nail-biting tiebreak.
Monfils gave everything, but two double-faults helped Berrettini take a 5-2 lead. The Italian finally closed out the victory, with both men given a standing ovation after one of the best matches of the competition.