Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal are set for another Grand Slam semifinal showdown after they negotiated tricky quarterfinals against John Isner and Andy Roddick respectively in the blazing New York sunshine.
Optimistic locals were hoping for an all-American semi, but their dreams were quickly distinguished as both players managed to only take one set off their higher-ranked opponents between them.
It was world number four Murray and Isner who took to the court first and a gruelling four-set encounter was played out before our eyes.
The big serving American continued to cause Murray problems for three and a half hours. But his serve and forehand let him down on key occasions as a single break of serve was enough to take the first two sets in the Scot’s favour.
With their only previous meeting, a thrashing for Isner at this year’s Australian Open, fresh in his memory the 26-year-old North Carolina native moved 4-1 ahead in the third, capitalising on some Murray errors, and took it. But his own mistakes again began to creep in during the fourth and Murray was able to grind out a hard-working 7-5, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(2) victory.
“I’m really happy to get through,” said Murray. “He started serving very well as the match went on and it came down to a few points.
“I played really well, especially in the fourth-set tie-break. I went for my shots, served well and returned well.
“Three-and-a-half hours in that heat isn’t easy. Hopefully they [Nadal and Roddick] will have a long one too so both players are in same boat tomorrow.”
Unfortunately for Murray they did not. Any hopes Roddick had of one last assault on the US Open, his sole Grand Slam coming here in 2003, were quickly evaporated by a dominant Nadal in a 2-6, 1-6, 3-6 demolition.
The world number two and defending champion raced in to a 4-0 first set lead and the writing appeared to be on the wall early on for Roddick who was struggling to match the power, drive and intricate shot selection of the majestic Spaniard.
Having produced a fine display to see off David Ferrer and banish some of those home-town blues from his painful defeat at his hands in the Davis Cup in Austin earlier this year, it was another Spaniard who wasn’t even on duty that day that ended his hopes this time around.
Nadal’s winner count of 35 dwarfed the 15 mustered by Roddick, and as the 30-year-old’s error count outweighed his winners there was only going to be one victor.
“It’s always a pleasure to play Andy [Murray], he’s one of the players with the most talent on the tour,” Nadal said of the upcoming semi. “It’s always exciting against him and a big challenge for me. I lost to him in the 2008 semi-finals and I will have to play aggressive, play my best tennis.
“If I play like I did today then I’ll give myself a good chance.”