The wind has played havoc with the hopes of many here in New York over the past fortnight but as the US Open has progressed it has fought for supremacy with a seeming air of inevitability as Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer move ever closer to the final that everyone here seems to want.
Over the past few years, the world's top two have played each other in every Grand Slam final except the US Open. With Federer having won the title in Australia at the start of the year and Nadal having regained top spot by winning the French Open and Wimbledon, it would be a fitting conclusion should they face off in tomorrow's final. Victory for Federer would give him a sixth US Open crown and extend his record grand slam tally to 17; a win for Nadal would see him become only the seventh man to win each of the sport's biggest four events, and all at the age of just 24.
Neither man has dropped a set on their way to the last four but there is still work to be done. Nadal will be a huge favourite to get past Mikhail Youzhny of Russia in today's semi-finals, but Federer takes on Novak Djokovic, the world No 3 and a man playing as well as he has done all year.
Youzhny came through the section vacated by Andy Murray but as he was battling past the Scot's conqueror, Stanislas Wawrinka, in five sets to reach the last four, Nadal must have allowed himself a quiet smile. The last thing anyone who plans to take down Nadal needs is to be even the slightest bit tired.
Four years ago here Nadal was upset by Youzhny in the quarter-finals, a step too far for the Spaniard who had won the French Open that year but had never enjoyed too much success on hard courts at that stage in his career.
This time he is fresh and playing great tennis. "It's great news for me to be in the semi-finals, especially this year without losing a set," Nadal said. "I think I played better every day. But I have to keep going and keep playing better if I really want to have chances to be in the final."
Federer has beaten Djokovic at the US Open in each of the past three years, twice in the semi-finals and once in the final. After scraping through his first-round match in five sets, the Serbian has looked more and more impressive but unfortunately for him Federer, who lost in the quarter-finals at the French Open and Wimbledon, appears to have a spring in his step once more.
The only certain thing is that neither player will be surprised by the other. "I think he's played his way and has beaten me and I've played my way and I've beaten him," Federer said. "I think it comes down to who plays better on day it, who takes the right decisions at the right time."Reuse content