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NEW YORK — Novak Djokovic outlasted Andy Murray 7-6 (7-1), 6-7 (1-7), 6-2, 6-4 Wednesday night in a matchup of past U.S. Open champions to reach the tournament’s semifinals for the eighth consecutive year.

It took a while for the top-seeded Djokovic to push himself out front in a well-played, back-and-forth, 3-hour, 32-minute match.

Djokovic, from Serbia, broke the eighth-seeded Murray to go up 3-1 in the third set, then fended off two break points in the next game. On the first, Murray sailed a backhand long to end a 28-stroke point, then leaned over and put a hand on his knee. On the second, he dumped a forehand into the net, then slammed his racket against his right thigh and yelled.

Soon, the Scotsman was turning to his box to say, “Nothing in the legs.” In the fourth set, a trainer came out to deliver a heat pack to Murray.

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On Saturday, Djokovic will take on Kei Nishikori, the first man from Japan to reach the U.S. Open semifinals since Ichiya Kumagae in 1918. Nishikori outlasted third-seeded Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (9-7), 6-7 (5-7), 6-4.

In the women’s quarterfinals, top-seeded Serena Williams dropped the first three games before quickly turning things around to defeat Flavia Pennetta of Italy 6-3, 6-2. Williams, who counts five U.S. Open titles among her 17 Grand Slam trophies, will play 17th-seeded Ekaterina Makarova of Russia in the semifinals. Makarova beat 2012 and 2013 runner-up Victoria Azarenka of Belarus 6-4, 6-2. The other women’s semifinal will be No. 10 Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark against unseeded Peng Shuai of China.

Williams is bidding to become the first woman with three consecutive U.S. Open titles since Chris Evert won four in a row from 1975 to 1978. The 32-year-old American also is trying to pull even with Evert and Martina Navratilova at 18 Grand Slam singles trophies.


• With the doldrums of U.S. tennis on display at the U.S. Open, Patrick McEnroe will leave his job as head of player development for the U.S. Tennis Association, the USTA said. McEnroe is a former coach of the U.S. Davis Cup team.

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