NEW YORK—Painful to watch.

That’s the only way to describe Caroline Wozniacki’s 6-0, 6-2 annihilation of Anastasija Sevastova at the U.S. Open, one of the most lopsided Grand Slam quarterfinal matches in recent memory.

Both players came into Arthur Ashe Stadium on Tuesday night with something to prove. Wozniacki, a two-time U.S. Open runner-up and former world No. 1, has fallen to 74th in the rankings. Sevastova, ranked 48th, retired in 2013 and stunned Garbine Muguruza and Johanna Konta en route to the quarterfinals.

Nobody expected either of these women to be here.

The first game of the match went to deuce, and it appeared early on that we were in for a long, back-and-forth battle between two determined women aiming to turn their careers around. It wouldn’t turn out that way.

Wozniacki broke Sevastova in the first game, and in the ensuing game the Latvian rolled her ankle on the first point. The 26-year-old received medical treatment, had her ankle taped up and ultimately decided to go back on court.

Wozniacki drops two games to Sevastova in one of most lopsided Slam quarters in recent memory

Wozniacki drops two games to Sevastova in one of most lopsided Slam quarters in recent memory

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Though she deserves credit for fighting through the pain, the injury clearly limited her effectiveness. Hobbled, and with a look of misery on her face, Sevastova dropped the first set in just over 30 minutes without taking a game.

When the second set got underway, it appeared to be just a matter of time until Sevastova packed it in and retired. (When asked by ESPN commentator Pam Shriver if her player would finish the match, Sevastova’s coach honestly replied that he didn’t know.) She didn’t—a testament to her courage and incredible compete level—but Wozniacki’s stellar defense and all-court play gave her virtually no chance of staging a comeback.

Finally, after 10 games—to the delight of the sympathetic and encouraging New York crowd—Sevastova got on the board. Wozniacki held for 5-1 and, back on serve, Sevastova picked up a second game. But that would be all, as the Dane would serve out the match to reach her fifth career U.S. Open semifinal.

Sevastova wiped tears from her face as she dejectedly walked off court.

“I feel real sorry for her,” Wozniacki said in her post-match interview on court.

She did add, however, that she methodically “kept pushing her back and making her move.”

Next up for Wozniacki is world No. 2 Angelique Kerber in the semifinals on Thursday. Kerber, who defeated Roberta Vinci earlier in the day in straight sets, will supplant Serena Williams as the No. 1 player in the world if she wins the tournament.

Wozniacki’s semifinal match will unquestionably be more challenging than her quarterfinal one, but she’s up to the task.

“I always believe in myself, no matter what the ranking,” Wozniacki said.

Kerber has won seven of their 12 career matches.