New York: Novak Djokovic, battling the elements as much as his opponent, breezed into the semi-finals of the US Open on Wednesday with a straight sets win over Gael Monfils.
By his own admission, it was not a pretty match to watch, but Djokovic had no real cause for alarm.
The Serbian won 7-6, 6-1, 6-2 against a difficult opponent while battling some mitigating circumstances that added merit to his performance.
The wind at the Arthur Ashe Stadium was blowing so hard that hitting winners became a secondary consideration. Landing the ball on the court almost became an achievement in itself.
"These are the worst conditions at this tournament," Djokovic grumbled. "I don`t think the crowd enjoyed the tennis too much."
The conditions were no better when Vera Zvonareva played Estonia`s Kaia Kanepi in the women`s quarter-finals. The 6-3, 7-5 scoreline showed that Zvonareva won comfortably but Mother Nature played as big a role as either woman on centre court.
Of the 84 points that Zvonareva won, 60 were unforced errors off Kanepi`s racket.
"The weather was definitely not for good tennis," said Zvonareva. "But no matter, (the) match had to be played and we both were trying our best out there."
Zvonareva has been one of the most improved players on the women`s tour this year and is Russia`s highest-ranked player.
She made her first grand slam final at Wimbledon in July and is through to her first semi-final at Flushing Meadows.
"I guess I`m improving," she said. "I`ve been playing for a while, but I`m still out there and still working hard."
Zvonareva`s next opponent will be decided later on Wednesday when Denmark`s 2009 US Open runner-up Caroline Wozniacki plays Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia, the only unseeded player left in the championship.
After a slow start to the tournament, Djokovic is starting to show signs that he is getting back to the form that saw him reach the US Open final in 2007, but the road ahead is littered with obstacles.
His next opponent will either be Roger Federer, who beat him in the 2007 final and the semi-finals each of the past two years, or Sweden`s Robin Soderling, runner-up at the French Open the last two years.
"I lost to Federer the last three years that we played here but every year I tried to win, I tried to go out on the court with a positive attitude," Djokovic said.