Flushing Meadows, NY (SportsNetwork.com) – Chalk up another majestic victory for the great Roger Federer at the U.S. Open.
Federer rallied from two sets down, staved off two match points and ousted upset-minded Gael Monfils in a five-set thriller Thursday night in an instant classic at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
Monfils had the Swiss legend on the ropes but the Frenchman spoiled two chances at delivering the knockout blow in the fourth set.
On the brink of losing for just the second time in a night session at Ashe Stadium, the second-seeded Federer won four straight points to pull even at 5-5 and went on to win the next two games and even the match.
The final set was a virtual walkover, with Federer needing just 26 minutes to close out a sensational 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 triumph.
Monfils, seeded 20th, had not lost a set in his first four matches and faced only three break points while winning the first two sets.
His laissez faire style, though, gave way to Federer’s stoic play.
Federer, who improved to 9-1 in his career in U.S. Open quarterfinals, only committed one unforced error in the third set and thanked the crowd for pulling him through a tough fourth.
“They were unbelievable,” Federer said in an on-court interview. “They helped me get it done.”
The next road block in Federer’s quest for an 18th Grand Slam title is Marin Cilic, who powered his way past sixth-seeded Czech and former Wimbledon runner-up Tomas Berdych 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) on a sunny afternoon.
Cilic swatted 19 aces and broke Berdych five times, compared to only two breaks of serve for the 6-foot-5 Czech. The Croat tallied 25 more winners (46-21) than Berdych on Day 11 to reach his first-ever U.S. Open semifinal.
The 14th-seeded Croatian slugger improved to 4-5 lifetime against Berdych, including 2-1 this season and 2-0 at Grand Slams. Berdych reached the Australian Open semis in addition to U.S. and French Open quarterfinal appearances this year.
Cilic is now 2-3 in his career Grand Slam quarterfinals, including 1-1 this year and 1-2 at the U.S. Open. He lost to world No. 1 star Novak Djokovic in the round of eight at Wimbledon in July.
The other men’s semi will pit a top-seeded Djokovic against 10th seed Kei Nishikori. The Wimbledon champion and seven-time Grand Slam winner Djokovic was the U.S. Open titlist in 2011 and is a four-time runner-up in Flushing, including last year against Rafael Nadal. Nishikori is the first Japanese player to reach the U.S. Open semis since 1918 and the first to do so in the Open era (since 1968).