China's Peng ends long wait, reaches US Open semi-finals
Shuai Peng of China returns a shot to Belinda Bencic of Switzerland during their 2014 US Open women's singles match on September 2, 2014 in New York - by Stan Honda
Peng, who was in the quarter-finals of a major for the first time at her 37th attempt, took apart Swiss 17-year-old Belinda Bencic 6-2, 6-1 in just 64 minutes.
"Thirty-seven times Grand Slam," Peng said, then had to stop the thought as she struggled to contain her emotions.
"It's a little bit too exciting," she said. "I love tennis, I love to play, but it's a long time, the career. It's tough. Sometimes I've thought to give up and stop playing because I don't know if I can make it or not.
"My coach and my parents always told me to fight and not give up -- that today was coming."
Now Peng will fight on Friday for a place in the final against either former world number one Caroline Wozniacki or 13th-seeded Italian Sara Errani.
Tenth-seeded Wozniacki, the 2009 runner-up who is in a Grand Slam quarter-final for the first time since the 2012 Australian Open, last reached a major semi-final since the 2011 US Open.
Wozniacki toppled former champion Maria Sharapova in the fourth round, while Errani's run included a third-round win over seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams as upsets saw only two of the top 10 seeds reach the last eight.
Wozniacki has won two of three career meetings with Errani, who reached the semi-finals at Flushing Meadows in 2012.
Peng took control early against Bencic, the youngest US Open quarter-finalist since Martina Hingis won the title at 16 in 1997.
Peng fended off two break points in her opening service game and didn't face another.
She broke Bencic twice in the first set, and seized a 4-0 lead with two breaks of serve in the second.
- Dangerous game -
Although the 28-year-old Peng has never won a singles title, the world 39 had big-match experience to draw on.
She and Taiwanese partner Hsieh Su-Wei won their second Grand Slam doubles title at the French Open this year.
"I think she has a dangerous game with both hands and the ball is really coming different from her racquet," Bencic said. "I had troubles with this today. Also her angles are great. She's a great doubles player, as well."
Peng ousted fourth-seeded Pole Agnieszka Radwanska, 28th-seeded Roberta Vinci and 14th-seeded Lucie Safarova to reach the quarters, and is the only woman besides two-time defending champion Serena Williams who has yet to drop a set.
Williams suffered a foot injury scare on the eve of her quarter-final as she played doubles with sister Venus.
World number one and five-time singles champion Williams had her right foot and ankle heavily strapped during a timeout early in the second set of the sisters' quarter-final loss to Russians Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina.
The US superstar is due to face Italy's Flavia Pennetta in the quarter-finals on Wednesday, when two-time runner-up Victoria Azarenka of Belarus will take on Makarova to complete the semi-final lineup.