FLUSHING MEADOWS, N.Y. — The gate-minders at Court 13 erected barriers to control the ticket-holders racing over from 10,103-seat Louis Armstrong Stadium, desperate for a spot on bleachers designed to hold 584.
Those who made it inside Court 13 before an usher shouted, “No more people!” got the rare privilege of watching world-class tennis in a high school-size venue Thursday at the U.S. Open.
After blasting into the quarterfinals with a 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 upset of fifth-seed David Ferrer, Andy Roddick jogged a full circuit around the bleachers to high-five the fans who had treated the occasion as the sporting equivalent of seeing the Beatles in Liverpool’s Cavern Club.
“I thought the atmosphere was great,” said Roddick, 29, whose wasn’t rattled by such quirky distractions as the shrieking baby in the adjacent plaza or the guy who, denied a seat, scaled the fence behind Ferrer as the Spaniard was in the process of serving.
The Roddick-Ferrer match — one of four men’s round-of-16 matches delayed nearly two days by the rain that brought the U.S. Open to a virtual standstill — was moved to Court 13 after seeping water on Armstrong rendered the show-court unplayable.
For 584 fleet-footed fans, it proved the silver lining of the rotten weather that has so disrupted the tournament’s second week — especially for Lori King, 34, of Sayville, N.Y. who ended up with the racket Roddick tossed into the stands in celebration.
“It was amazing!” said King, a longtime Roddick fan. “I’ve never been that close in my life!”
But it was no reward for Ferrer, who agreed that playing on soggy Armstrong was hazardous but didn’t appreciate competing on a court unequipped with the Hawk-Eye replay system for challenging dubious line calls.
“With Roddick in here, of course I prefer Hawk-Eye,” said Ferrer, alluding Roddick’s 19 aces. “But you know, what can I do? Referee — he’s the boss, no? The players, we cannot do anything.”
Roddick victory put him in the U.S. Open quarterfinals for the first time since 2008. He was joined later by fellow American John Isner, who fired 26 aces in upsetting 12th seed Gilles Simon, 7-6 (7-2), 3-6, 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (7-4).
Roddick will face defending champion Rafael Nadal on Friday for a place in the semifinals. Nadal, who trailed Gilles Muller 0-3 when their quarterfinal was halted after 20 minutes on Wednesday, stormed back for a 7-6 (7-1), 6-1, 6-2 victory.
Isner will face No. 4 seed Andy Murray, who snapped American Donald Young’s career-best run in the tournament, 6-2, 6-3, 6-3.
In women’s action, all the quarterfinals were completed.
Top-seed Caroline Wozniacki turned back 10th-seeded Andrea Petkovic, 6-1, 7-6 (7-5), to advance to a showdown with three-time U.S. Open champion Serena Williams, who overcame three early service breaks to upend Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, 7-5, 6-1.
Williams has yet to lose a set in pursuit of her 14th major title. While Wozniacki doesn’t have a single stroke or weapon that’s superior to Williams’s, she has ascended to No. 1 in the world and advanced here through consistent, dogged play.
“I think her weapon is the fact that she never gives up,” Williams said.
Saturday’s other women’s semifinal lacks comparable star power, pitting No. 9 seed Samantha Stosur, a 6-3, 6-3 victor over No. 2 seed Vera Zvonareva, against unseeded Angelique Kerber, who beat Italy’s Flavia Pennetta, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.
From show courts to side courts, competition resumed at breakneck speed Thursday, with players and tournament officials equally eager to get proceedings back on track once the rain finally stopped and the sun returned.
Still, tensions remained high, with Nadal, Murray and Roddick in turn expressing frustration that players don’t have a bigger voice in scheduling decisions — particularly those that relate to safety and fair play.
But that has been a problem since the sport started making money: Convincing highly competitive tennis players that their interests are best served through collective action.
“It’s a star-driven sport; it always has been,” Roddick said. “You have to get the stars on the same page” to effect change.
Nadal, Murray and Roddick are in the bottom half of the men’s draw, which has been put at a competitive disadvantage because they weren’t able to finish their fourth-round matches until Thursday — two days after the top half of the draw.
Playing one round ahead, top seed Novak Djokovic advanced to the semifinals Thursday when his opponent, fellow Serbian Janko Tipsarevic, retired in the fourth set with a thigh injury. Djokovic led 7-6 (7-2), 6-7 (7-3), 6-0, 3-0 at the time.
He’ll face five-time U.S. Open champion Roger Federer, who avenged his Wimbledon loss to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga with a convincing, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 victory in a match that was halted 95 minutes midway through the opening set by rain.
In an effort to minimize the unfairness, U.S. Open officials added one day between the men’s semifinals and final to avoid a scenario in which one finalist is forced to play four matches in four days.
The women’s final will be Sunday at 4:30 p.m. The men’s final will be delayed to Monday for a fourth consecutive year, held at 4 p.m.