With one half of the men's semifinal already set at the 2014 U.S. Open, the quarterfinals stage will wrap up play on Thursday.
Novak Djokovic and Kei Nishikori are already through after their wins on Wednesday, with two more places still up for grabs.
Although it feels somewhat underwhelming to only get two matches in one day compared with the earlier bombardment of action over the last week, the stakes and quality of talent should deliver a similar level of excitement.
|2014 U.S. Open: Day 11|
|No. 6 Tomas Berdych vs. No. 14 Marin Cilic||Not Before 1:30 p.m. ET||Berdych|
|No. 2 Roger Federer vs. No. 20 Gael Monfils||Not Before 8 p.m. ET||Federer|
No. 6 Tomas Berdych vs. No. 14 Marin Cilic
You couldn't have hoped for a more even quarterfinal matchup. Despite the gap in the seeding between Tomas Berdych and Marin Cilic, the two are nearly even in their eight head-to-head matches, with the former taking five to the latter's three.
They last played at Wimbledon, with Cilic winning in straight sets.
You can make a strong case for either star to advance to the semifinals. As good as Berdych is, he's only made it to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open once, and Cilic will be the first seeded player he meets in Flushing, New York, this year.
"He's not unbeatable, but definitely very tough task," the Croat said of Berdych, per Howard Fendrich of The Associated Press on SeattlePI.com.
The deciding factor in this match will likely be Cilic's massive serve. Throughout the tournament, he's won a little over 80 percent of his first-service points and a little over half of his second-service points. If that trend continues, he'll advance to the semifinal.
However, if Berdych can neutralize that weapon and keep Cilic on the back foot, then the match will be Berdych's to lose.
Final Score: Berdych wins 7-6(3), 4-6, 5-7, 6-4, 6-3
No. 2 Roger Federer vs. No. 20 Gael Monfils
It has to be Roger Federer here, right? He's dropped one set in the first four rounds of the tournament and holds a 7-2 record against Gael Monfils in their nine career meetings. The two most recently met in Cincinnati, Ohio, earlier in the month, and Federer prevailed in three sets.
The tennis gods are having some fun with this pairing, as you'd be hard-pressed to find two more different players on the ATP Tour. Where Federer wins with a robotic efficiency, Monfils is an entertainer who plays to the crowd at any opportunity.
The New York Times' Ben Rothenberg believes that Monfils would be a boon to tennis' popularity if he were to ascend to the top of the rankings:
Ben Rothenberg @BenRothenberg
I'll say it again: if Gael Monfils was a Slam-winning number one, tennis would be at least three times more popular. Rock star. #usopen2014-9-2 20:04:44
You don't see too many guys refueling with Coca-Cola during changeovers, via Mark Masters of TSN:
Mark Masters @markhmasters
Gael Monfils on why he drinks soda during matches: "Well, sometimes, you know, I just feel like I want a Coke" http://t.co/Z1QNgUR2sS2014-9-3 22:38:59
As great as it would be to see the 28-year-old inch closer to his first-ever Grand Slam final, Federer is playing so out of his mind at the moment that the only man who can stop him is Djokovic. He's running through opponents like the Federer of old.
His first serve in particular has been suffocating. The fact he can successfully use a serve-and-volley strategy at 33 years old is a testament to both his talent and conditioning.
This match should be close, but Federer's class will eventually shine through.
Final Score: Federer wins 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2