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Preview: Bryans, Hingis headline doubles semifinals

Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan in action in the men's doubles on the Grandstand on Day 9.
By Olivia Wittels and Nicholas McCarvel
Thursday, September 4, 2014

Is this the year for the golden 100?

Americans Bob and Mike Bryan continue their quest for a 100th career title together at the US Open on Thursday, when the men’s and women’s doubles semifinals take place. Here, a preview of the four matches on tap for Thursday.

[1] Bob and Mike Bryan (USA) vs. Scott Lipsky/Rajeev Ram (USA)
Arthur Ashe Stadium, 12 p.m.
There will be at least one American duo in the men’s doubles final, as the revitalized team of Lipsky and Ram have made a Cinderella run to the semifinals. They have played together just once since making a run to the Wimbledon quarterfinals in 2012 (where they lost to the Bryan brothers in five sets) but are riding a wave of confidence into this match, which will be played first on Arthur Ashe Stadium on Thursday. 

The Bryan brothers are going after a historic 100th career doubles title together, including a 16th Grand Slam championship. They breezed through their opening three matches before being tested in the quarterfinals, winning against the always-dangerous duo of David Marrero and Fernando Verdasco, the No. 7 seeds, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 on Grandstand.

Lipsky/Ram shocked the No. 15 seeds Jamie Murray and John Peers in the first round, winning 6-4, 6-7, 7-6. They then beat two more seeded teams to make the final four: Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic in the third round (6-3, 6-4) and Eric Butorac and Raven Klaasen in the quarterfinals (6-3, 7-6) to make the first doubles semifinal at a major of their respective careers.

[4] Ekaterina Makarova/Elena Vesnina (RUS) vs. Kimiko Date-Krumm (JPN)/Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (CZE)
Louis Armstrong Stadium, 11 a.m.
The No. 4 seeds and all-Russian duo of Makarova and Vesnina are set to take on Date-Krumm and Zahlavova Strycova, their first meeting. Makarova and Vesnina have only dropped one set thus far in the tournament, in the third round against Americans Vania King and Lisa Raymond. In the quarterfinals, the all-Russian duo defeated the always-formidable Venus and Serena Williams in straight-sets, 7-6, 6-4 – no small feat against the Williams sisters, who own 13 Grand Slam doubles titles together. Makarova is also in the semifinals of the women’s singles bracket, where she has yet to drop a set, even against tough opponents, like No. 16 seed Victoria Azarenka and No. 7 seed Eugenie Bouchard. With the confidence and steady match play Makarova has demonstrated in the singles tournament, she and Vesnina will serve as a tough test for Date-Krumm and Zahlavova Strycova.

The 43-year-old veteran and her 28-year-old partner have upset three seeds en route to the semis. They took out the No. 14 seeds Hao-Ching Chan and Yung-Jan Chan, 6-3, 6-2, in the second round, following up that victory with a 7-6, 6-4 win over the No. 2 seeds Su-Wei Hsieh and Peng Shuai. In Wednesday’s quarterfinal, Date-Krumm and Zahlavova Strycova upended No. 8 seeds Andrea Hlavackova and Zheng Jie in a tight three-set battle, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.

[4] Ivan Dodig (CRO)/Marcelo Melo (BRA) vs. [11] Marcel Granollers/Marc Lopez (ESP)
Louis Armstrong Stadium, Second match, Not before 12:30 p.m.
The No. 11 seeds Granollers/Lopez are the reigning ATP World Tour Doubles Finals winners and were runners-up in the men’s doubles final at the French Open earlier this year. They’ve met Dodig/Melo just once, the fourth seeds winning that match in Canada last month in the quarterfinals of the Canadian Masters (4-6, 6-4, [10-8]). Dodig and Melo have reached two Masters Series finals this year (including in Canada) after winning their first ATP World Tour event together at the Shanghai Masters last fall. They began playing together on a regular basis in the summer of 2012, having made the semifinals at the US Open a year ago. 

Dodig/Melo squeaked through a third-set tiebreak in their tournament opener against Americans Steve Johnson and Sam Querrey, then won two straight-set matches before edging Carlos Berlocq and Leonardo Mayer in the quarterfinals on Wednesday. The Spanish duo of Granollers/Lopez upset the No. 6 seeds and defending champions Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek in the third round before beating last year’s finalists, the No. 2 seeds Alexander Peya and Bruno Soares, in the quarterfinals.

[3] Cara Black (ZIM)/Sania Mirza (IND) vs. Martina Hingis (SUI)/Flavia Pennetta (ITA)
Louis Armstrong Stadium, Third match, Not before 2 p.m.
The No. 3 seeds Black and Mirza face off against a resurgent Hingis and her partner, Pennetta. The No. 3 seeds looked strong throughout the tournament and have made it through five matches without dropping a set. Black and Mirza were up, 6-1, 1-0, against Zarina Diyas and Xu Yi-Fan in the quarterfinals before Diyas retired with a shoulder injury. Mirza is also in the mixed doubles final alongside the aforementioned Soares, indicating the strength of her doubles play this tournament. 

Although unseeded, Hingis and Pennetta should not be overlooked as contenders to advance to the title. Like Black and Mirza, the duo have also not dropped a set in their run to the semis, defeating two seeded teams along the way. In the second round, Hingis (the 1997 US Open champion in singles) and Pennetta overcame the No. 15 seeds Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Lucie Safarova, 6-3, 6-0. They earned another straight-sets victory, 6-4, 6-3, over the No. 5 seeds, Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik in the quarterfinals. Hingis won her only US Open doubles championship in 1998 but 16 years later is poised for another chance here in Flushing Meadows to claim her 10th Grand Slam doubles title – and first since 2002.