Roger Federer quieted the naysayers by defeating Robin Soderling Wednesday evening at Arthur Ashe Stadium in the U.S. Open quarterfinals in a horrid, blustery affair.
The No. 2 seed Swiss star overpowered the No. 5 seed Soderling with his serve, hitting 18 aces, while the Swede-who despite a valiant effort-never got his serve going, hitting none. The king of the court defeated Soderling in three sets, 6-4, 6-4, 7-5, keeping a perfect record in night matches at Ashe, at 15-0.
It was a different story than the Roland Garros match the two played in the quarterfinals in June, when Soderling led in aces 14-12, and won three straight sets to advance. Soderling defeated Federer in the French Open in four sets, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4. But the hard court and windy evening favored the five-time U.S. Open champion.
The 20 mile-per-hour winds gusting up to 30 miles per hour didn't hamper Federer's serve, nor his ground strokes. He raced off to a quick 2-0 set lead, with Soderling challenging him in the third set by grabbing a 5-3 lead. But then Federer turned it on once again, breaking the Swede's serve, and then holding to tie it up 5-5. Roger broke once again to make it 6-5, and then served it out in a fitting fashion, hitting two blistering aces to win in just 1 hour and 56 minutes.
The wind didn't deter the U.S. Open favorite Federer.
"Tough conditions to play...if I can't serve in the wind, I've got a problem," Federer said. "You can wake me up at two in the morning, or four in the morning, I can hit serves. It's what we do, and I'm happy it worked tonight."
Roger will face No. 3 Novak Djokovic in the Semifinals, who defeated Frenchman Gael Monfils (No. 17 seed), 7-6 (2), 6-1, 6-2. Roger is 10-5 when facing the Serbian. Djokovic last defeated Federer on the hard courts of the former-number one's homeland Basel, Switzerland in 2009, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2. But Djokovic has never defeated Federer in the U.S. Open. He lost to Federer in 2007 (7-6 (4), 7-6 (2), 6-4) and 2008 (6-3, 5-7, 7-5, 6-2).
"He's a great player. He's looking for a big breakthrough," said Federer. "It's going to be a tough one."
With Federer's serve catching fire and Djokovic being notorious for double faults-should the weather conditions be extreme, the match would definitely favor the 16-Grand-Slam winner. Then quite possibly, a Rafael Nadal-Federer final may be likely. And New York would love to see that.
Nadal is still looking to complete a career grand slam, never winning in Flushing Meadows. Against Federer he is 5-2 in Grand Slams. Nadal faces fellow countryman Fernando Verdasco, who he has an impeccable record against, at 10-0. The number-one ranked Nadal defeated Verdasco on the hard courts of the Australian Open Semifinal in 2009 in a five-set thriller, 6-7(4), 6-4, 7-6(2), 6-7(1), 6-4. The No. 8 seed Verdasco, who has won two ATP tournaments this year, is looking for his first grand slam.
On the women's side, Denmark's Number-One Seed Caroline Wozniacki had a rough start, but pulled it out against Slovakian Dominika Cibulkova 6-2, 7-5.
Wozniacki began her first service game with three double faults to get broken, because of the poor direction of the ball-due to the torrent winds. But then she broke right back and breezed through a first set win.
"It was really difficult to play today. The wind was blowing everywhere," said Wozniacki, who had to put her hair in a pony-tail in the second set, because it was in her face. "I was just trying to get in position so I can get the ball center court."
Cibulkova kept it close in the second set, with a 5-5 score, but Wozniacki's powerful ground strokes prevailed, breaking the unseeded player and serving it out, for the win.
The 20-year old Wozniacki will face the emotional Russian Vera Zvonareva in the Semifinals, a No. 7 seed. With Zvonareva's past of outbursts, Wozniacki is the polar opposite, keeping her composure. It looks likely Wozniacki may possibly have a U.S. Open final rematch against reigning U.S. Open 2009 champion Kim Clijsters.
The other Semifinals sees the No. 2 seed Belgian facing No. 3 Seed American Venus Williams. Williams has not won a U.S. Open since 2001, but has become extremely consistent-despite not playing all summer. She is on a tear, winning 15 straight matches, while Wozniacki has won 13 straight. Should Wozniacki win the U.S. Open, not only would it be her first Grand Slam win, she would also surpass Serena Williams, taking over the No. 1 ranking. No matter the outcome, the finals of the U.S. Open on the men’s and women’s side are definitely worth watching.