US Open 2014: Roger Federer keeps flag flying for the old guard

Federer meets Marin Cilic in the semi-final

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It is almost Wimbledon revisited at the US Open. Two members of the younger generation have made it through to the semi-finals – for Grigor Dimitrov and Milos Raonic at Wimbledon read Marin Cilic and Kei Nishikori here – but now find their paths blocked by two of the old guard. Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, who beat Dimitrov and Raonic respectively at the All England Club, now aim to give Nishikori and Cilic the same treatment here.

Federer, nevertheless, went to the brink of defeat in his quarter-final on Thursday night. The 33-year-old Swiss lost the first two sets against Gaël Monfils and had to save two match points before beating the 28-year-old Frenchman 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 in front of a captivated crowd in Arthur Ashe Stadium. It was the ninth time in his career that he had won a match from two sets down.

“It’s just unbelievable to win matches like this at Slams,” Federer said after winning a place in his 36th Grand Slam semi-final and his ninth at Flushing Meadows. “I have won other big ones in other places, but over best-of-five, saving match points against Gaël in that atmosphere, it’s definitely very special.

“I’m not sure I have ever saved match point before in a Slam. I’m unbelievably happy that it was today, because I knew I could play better after the first couple of sets. I believed I could turn it around from the get-go when the third set started. I’m so happy the crowd got into it. The rallies were incredible at times and my game really picked up.

“I served great in the fifth when it mattered. Overall it was just an enjoyable match to play, because it had all the ups and downs similar to the Wimbledon final.”

The world No 3 struggled in the wind in the early stages and was staring defeat in the face when he served at 4-5 and 15-40 in the third set before saving two match points with some bold attacking play. When Monfils dropped serve with two successive double faults in the following game, the momentum shifted decisively.

Federer has gone from strength to strength following the start of the grass-court season, during which he won the title in Halle and reached the Wimbledon final before losing to Djokovic.

He had an excellent summer on hard courts in the build-up to New York, where he is attempting to win the title for the sixth time, though the first since 2008.

Cilic earned his meeting with the 17-times Grand Slam champion by beating Tomas Berdych 6-2, 6-4, 7-6. The 25-year-old Croatian is through to his second Grand Slam semi-final after his defeat by Andy Murray at the 2010 Australian Open.

“I feel that I’m playing probably the best tennis of my career,” Cilic said. “The atmosphere is completely different to what it was in 2010. At that time I was maybe a little bit too shocked and I didn’t know how to deal with it. But now I’m cool.”