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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Martin, Pioline Squeak Through to Semifinals




NEW YORK -- Todd Martin didn't need smelling salts this time. That doesn't mean the American's 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 victory in the U.S. Open quarterfinals over lightly regarded longshot Slava Dosedel was easy Thursday night.


Dosedel, a Czech ranked No. 95 in the world before the Open, gave Martin a battle, stretching the match to four sets and avoiding two match points before going down.


Martin seemed only slightly less exhausted than he did Tuesday night when he was hooked up to an IV to recover from a five-set marathon against Greg Rusedski. He dropped the first two sets in that one and trailed 1-4 in the third before winning 20 of the last 21 points to capture the match.


He needed smelling salts to get through and had serious questions about how he would perform two nights later.


"I felt better than I thought I would," Martin said.


Dosedel, playing with a smiley face stenciled on his racket, made it tough on Martin again, holding serve most of the night and making the No. 7 player in the world work for the victory.


Martin managed just three service breaks, but that was all he needed to survive Dosedel's bid for the upset.


Meanwhile, Martin's serve was nearly flawless, yielding just one break point in the match. He had 22 aces and won the match with a forehand shot that kissed the lineout of Dosedel's reach.


That put him in Saturday's semifinals against Cedric Pioline of France, who wore down Gustavo Kuerten, beating the Brazilian 4-5, 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (16-14), 7-6 (10-8).


Saturday's other semifinal pits second-seeded French Open champion Andre Agassi against third-seeded Australian Open champion Yevgeny Kafelnikov - a match that will produce the new world No. 1 as well as the prohibitive title favorite. For tiebreakers, few matches compared to the Pioline-Kuerten affair that stretched nearly 3 hours.


After dropping the first set, the persistent Pioline won in overtime in each of the next three to oust Kuerten.


"I think the atmosphere was great," Kuerten said. "We were hitting unbelievable shots, just playing great tennis."


On the women's side, the semifinals offered a perfect script as No. 1 Martina Hingis, defending champion Lindsay Davenport, and sensational sisters Venus and Serena Williams were to battle it out late Friday.


In a pair of potentially scintillating semifinal scenarios, Venus was to face Hingis in a replay of the 1997 final, while Serena makes her Grand Slam final four debut against Davenport in a meeting of the hardest hitters in women's tennis.


Each of them is a fierce competitor who would never walk away satisfied by having reached the semifinals. And all four were brimming with confidence and hungry for Grand Slam glory.


"When you go out there and you're playing someone who plays well, either you go to another level or accept a loss," said 19-year-old Venus Williams, winner of five titles this season. "I don't like losing. It bothers me."


Hingis was angling to keep her world supremacy intact by taking a sixth career Grand Slam trophy.


A second U.S. Open crown would also go a long way toward erasing the memory of her first-round loss at Wimbledon and her ignominious performance in her French Open final loss to Steffi Graf.