Alexa

Moving closer to Federer-Nadal final at US Open

 Roger Federer, of Switzerland, serves to Robin Soderling, of Sweden, during a quarterfinal at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, Wednesday,...
 Roger Federer, of Switzerland, wipes his face during a quarterfinal against Robin Soderling, of Sweden, at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New Yor...
 Roger Federer, of Switzerland, returns a shot to Robin Soderling, of Sweden, duirng a quarterfinal match at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New Yo...
 Rafael Nadal, of Spain, returns a shot to Fernando Verdasco, of Spain, during a quarterfinal at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, Thursday...
 Rafael Nadal, of Spain, reacts after breaking the serve of Fernando Verdasco, also of Spain, in a quarterfinal match at the U.S. Open tennis tourname...
 Rafael Nadal, of Spain, returns a shot Fernando Verdasco, also of Spain, in a quarterfinal match at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, Thur...
 Rafael Nadal, of Spain, tosses the tennis ball to serve to Fernando Verdasco, also of Spain, in a quarterfinal match at the U.S. Open tennis tourname...
 Mikhail Youzhny, of Russia, reacts after defeating Stanislas Wawrinka, of Switzerland, 3-6, 7-6 (7), 3-6, 6-3, 6-3  in a quarterfinal match at the U....
 Tennis fans watch a men's quarterfinal match between Stanislas Wawrinka, of Switzerland, and Mikhail Youzhny, of Russia, at the U.S. Open tennis tour...
 Rafael Nadal, of Spain, returns a shot to Fernando Verdasco, also of Spain, in a quarterfinal match at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, T...

US Open Tennis

Roger Federer, of Switzerland, serves to Robin Soderling, of Sweden, during a quarterfinal at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, Wednesday,...

US Open Tennis

Roger Federer, of Switzerland, wipes his face during a quarterfinal against Robin Soderling, of Sweden, at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New Yor...

US Open Tennis

Roger Federer, of Switzerland, returns a shot to Robin Soderling, of Sweden, duirng a quarterfinal match at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New Yo...

US Open Tennis

Rafael Nadal, of Spain, returns a shot to Fernando Verdasco, of Spain, during a quarterfinal at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, Thursday...

US Open Tennis

Rafael Nadal, of Spain, reacts after breaking the serve of Fernando Verdasco, also of Spain, in a quarterfinal match at the U.S. Open tennis tourname...

US Open Tennis

Rafael Nadal, of Spain, returns a shot Fernando Verdasco, also of Spain, in a quarterfinal match at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, Thur...

US Open Tennis

Rafael Nadal, of Spain, tosses the tennis ball to serve to Fernando Verdasco, also of Spain, in a quarterfinal match at the U.S. Open tennis tourname...

US Open Tennis

Mikhail Youzhny, of Russia, reacts after defeating Stanislas Wawrinka, of Switzerland, 3-6, 7-6 (7), 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 in a quarterfinal match at the U....

US Open Tennis

Tennis fans watch a men's quarterfinal match between Stanislas Wawrinka, of Switzerland, and Mikhail Youzhny, of Russia, at the U.S. Open tennis tour...

US Open Tennis

Rafael Nadal, of Spain, returns a shot to Fernando Verdasco, also of Spain, in a quarterfinal match at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, T...

Rafael Nadal heads into Saturday's U.S. Open semifinals with the look of a player ready to win the only Grand Slam title missing from his collection.
Top-seeded Nadal faces No. 12 Mikhail Youzhny, while No. 2 Federer plays No. 3 Novak Djokovic.
If Nadal and Federer win, the two greatest players of their generation will resume their rivalry in Sunday's final _ and become the first pair of men to play each other at least once in the finals of all four Grand Slam tournaments.
Nadal lost in the semifinals in 2008 and 2009. This year, Nadal says, is different.
"Man, I'm great. Last year, I was in the semis, and that was close to a miracle. This year has been the opposite. When you're in perfect condition, there's a different perspective," said Nadal, bidding to become, at age 24, the seventh man in tennis history to complete a career Grand Slam.
"I'm happy, because everything has turned out great with my physical form. Without being healthy, you cannot aspire to anything. And when you're OK, then at least you have the chance to do it."
Neither he nor Federer has dropped a set so far, steady as can be in the windy conditions that have troubled others. They already have met to decide seven Grand Slam championships: three at Wimbledon, three at the French Open, and one at the Australian Open, with Nadal holding a 5-2 edge in those matches, and leading their head-to-head series 14-7 overall.
"Well, for sure, Roger is the favorite of the tournament, especially because he won five times," Nadal said. "And I am in (the) semifinals, so I don't think about the final."
Nadal has won 7 of 11 matches against Youzhny, who will be playing in only the second Grand Slam semifinal of his career. The other also was at the U.S. Open, in 2006, and Youzhny got there by knocking off Nadal in the quarterfinals.
The prevailing theory for Nadal's failure to add a U.S. Open trophy to his collection _ which includes five from the French Open, two from Wimbledon and one from the Australian Open _ is that he arrives in New York with too much wear and tear. He plays a hard-charging brand of tennis, and hard courts only add to the pounding.
But he feels fresher this time. The Spaniard skipped Davis Cup matches after winning Wimbledon, taking three weeks off both so he could rest and get treatment for his knees, which were such a problem last season.
"I know how important is the US Open for me right now, and I know I have to arrive to this tournament fresh if I want to have any chance to have a very good result. That's what I tried. I think I did," Nadal said after beating No. 8 Fernando Verdasco in straight sets in the quarterfinals Thursday. "I am at the right round without problems, so that's very positive."
A couple of days before the tournament began, Nadal made an adjustment to the way he grips his racket to serve, and the results are nothing short of remarkable: He has won 76 of 77 service games through five matches.
Nadal is in the U.S. Open semifinals for the third consecutive year; he lost to Andy Murray two years ago, and to eventual champion Juan Martin del Potro last year.
Djokovic, meanwhile, has made it this far for the fourth U.S. Open in a row, and he keeps running into 16-time Grand Slam champion Federer. Djokovic lost to him in the final in 2007, and in the semifinals in 2008 and 2009, when Federer hit his back-to-the-net, between-the-legs passing shot winner.
"He's obviously waiting for a breakthrough where he can win this title," Federer observed. "But for the last three or four years, he's gone through me, and he hasn't been able to get it done."
Federer will be playing in his seventh consecutive U.S. Open semifinal. He won the other six, and has won 45 of 46 matches in New York since the start of the 2004 tournament. The only loss in that span came against del Potro in the 2009 title match.
The U.S. Open is the only Grand Slam tournament that schedules the men's semifinals for Saturday instead of Friday, eliminating a day of rest before the final. So while everyone else might be thinking ahead to the possibility of Nadal vs. Federer on Sunday, the players themselves are not.
"If you're going to play an epic, maybe, on Saturday, that's going to really influence your chances on (the) final day. That's what's rough about this format here at the Open," Federer said. "Nothing is safe until you're through, until you're in the final."