Tennis: Federer, Djokovic one step away from US Open final showdown
Roger Federer’s dream of a potential US Open final clash with Novak Djokovic faces a stiff test on Saturday.
Croatian Marin Cilic - out to repair his tattered reputation after a controversial doping ban - stands in his way.
Federer, the 17-time major champion is chasing a record sixth US Open title. And he can take heart from the 5-0 career edge he has over Cilic, 25.
The 14th seed Cilic missed last year’s US Open due to a controversial doping ban. He tested positive for a banned stimulant in a supplement that one his staff members had bought over-the-counter.
The six-month ban was eventually reduced to four but Cilic believes the entire process was unjust.
“It angered me how all the process went because it was not fair to me. It wouldn’t be fair to any tennis player,” Cilic said.
Marin Cilic celebrates after recording match point against Tomas Berdych.
“I’m looking forward to playing Marin,” Federer said . “He’s a great guy. We had a tough, tough match in Toronto.
"I think I needed nine match points to close him out and beat him at midnight, 6-4 in the third, so we know what to expect.”
Meanwhile, world number one Djokovic faces Japan’s Kei Nishikori in Saturday’s first semi-final.
Shrugging off his post-Wimbledon slump (brought on by his wedding and impending fatherhood perhaps), the seven-time Grand Slam title winner said: “I was aiming to play my best tennis in the US Open, and I knew that’s going to happen.”
Djokovic had won an intense physical battle against old rival Andy Murray in the quarter-finals.
Djokovic and Murray pose before their men's singles quarterfinal match.
Djokovic and Nishikori have only met twice.
The Serb winning in straight sets at the 2010 French Open before the Japanese star gained revenge with a semi-final triumph a year later.
The pair should have met in the semi-finals of the Miami Masters this year but Nishikori, having knocked out Federer, was forced to withdraw with a groin injury.
Nishikori, whose career has endured a number of medical stop-starts – like foot and hip surgeries in particular – has been pain-free in New York.
Hhis impressive stamina took him past Milos Raonic and Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka in successive five-set duels.
Nishikori celebrating after defeating Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland in their men's singles quarterfinal match. Photos: AFP, USA Today Sports
Despite an up-and-down season, he still claimed titles in Memphis and Barcelona.
And a tough cardio regime instigated by Chang, a Grand Slam title winner himself at the 1989 French Open, has helped him maintain fine physical form. - AFP