Rafael Nadal has won three U.S. Open titles in his career, while the other three men remaining in the men's draw have never won a Grand Slam.
However, if the men's draw has shown anything so far this year in New York City, it's that anybody can win.
Nadal is the only competitor remaining of men's tennis' "Big Three" comprised of himself, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. No. 3 Federer was upset in five sets by Grigor Dimitrov in the quarterfinals, while top-seeded Djokovic retired due to a nagging left shoulder injury in his round-of-16 match against No. 23 Stan Wawrinka.
Wawrinka was then handled in four sets by No. 5 Daniil Medvedev in the quarterfinals. In the same round, No. 24 Matteo Berrettini outlasted No. 13 Gael Monfils in an exhausting five-set affair.
That has set up a semifinal slate pitting Nadal against Berrettini and Medvedev against Dimitrov.
Friday's Men's Semifinals Schedule
Arthur Ashe Stadium
(5) Daniil Medvedev* vs. Grigor Dimitrov, 4 p.m. ET
(2) Rafael Nadal* vs. (24) Matteo Berrettini, 6 p.m. ET
*Picks to win
The men's singles semifinal action will be available to watch in the United States on ESPN or WatchESPN. Viewers in the U.K. can watch on Amazon Prime's live stream.
Daniil Medvedev vs. Grigor Dimitrov
Medvedev has claimed the role of villain to this point of the U.S. Open, and the 23-year-old is thriving off of controversy.
In the third round, Medvedev thanked the crowd for their hostility during his win over Feliciano Lopez, per CBS Sports:
"Thank you all, guys, because your energy tonight give me the win. Because if you were not here, guys, I would probably lose the match because I was so tired. I was cramping yesterday. It was so tough on me to play. So I want all of you to know, when you sleep tonight, I won because of you.
"The only thing I can say that the energy you're giving me right now, guys, I think it will be enough for my five next matches. I mean, the more you do this, the more I will win, for you guys."
In his next match against Dominik Koepfer, Medvedev quite literally basked in the boos:
All of which is to say, it will take something special for Dimitrov to shake Medvedev off his game. However, after surviving a heavily pro-Federer crowd, Dimitrov will find himself in a much more favorable position as a crowd favorite.
From a tennis perspective, the two have met twice in the past, and both instances came in 2017. Dimitrov beat Medvedev in the quarterfinals of the Queen's Club Championships, and Medvedev evened their head-to-head series in Washington D.C. during the round of 16 at the Citi Open.
Medvedev is the first Russian man to advance to reach a Grand Slam semifinal since 2010, and his arrival to this stage hasn't happened in a vacuum. Over the last six weeks, he has gone 19-2, and he has a circuit-best 49 won matches in 2019, according to ATP Tour.
On the flip side, Dimitrov had lost six of seven matches dating back to June heading into Flushing Meadows. Notably, because Medvedev is fresh off beating Wawrinka, Dimitrov has fallen to the Swiss in all three of their matchups in 2019.
Even more notable, Dimitrov has been dealing with a restrictive shoulder injury since last December.
If Dimitrov wants to counter Medvedev's momentum, he will have to look more like his former world No. 3 ranking than his current No. 78.
He looked more like the former against Federer:
Given that quarterfinal match went three hours and 12 minutes, Dimitrov's shoulder will be worth keeping an eye on.
Rafael Nadal vs. Matteo Berrettini
The expectation is for Nadal to cruise through the remainder of the men's draw to earn his 19th Grand Slam title and first at the U.S. Open since 2017.
Nadal is the most decorated man left in the competition, by far, and he has bolstered his case with absurd athleticism like this:
If the net can't keep Nadal down, how will Berrettini? Friday will be the first meeting between the two and the Italian's first career U.S. Open semifinals appearance.
Berrettini showed plenty of fight across his three-hour, 56-minute contest with Monfils. After dropping the first set, he won the next two and outlasted Monfils 7-6 (5) in the deciding fifth set:
Having to face Nadal after such a grueling match—and his most impressive Grand Slam win to date—will be daunting, but Berrettini does hold some advantages. Throughout this year's tournament, the 23-year-old edges Nadal in aces (66-26), break points (60-48), forehand winners (111-55) and backhand winners (33-18), per ATP Tour.
"For sure, my forehand is my best weapon," Berrettini told ATP Tour's Andrew Eichenholz.
However, Nadal has only committed 122 unforced errors compared to Berrettini's 248, which illustrates the 33-year-old Spaniard's overwhelming poise. Ultimately, it's that poise earned over 18 years of experience since turning pro that figures to be too much for Berrettini to overcome.