Washington: Gael Monfils put one hand on the trophy of the Legg Mason Classic by beating Janko Tipsarevic in straight sets on Friday while his all four main rivals have lost.
The top-seeded Frenchman won 6-4, 6-4 to set up a semi-final against big-serving American John Isner, who blew away Viktor Trocki in the final set, winning 7-6 (5), 3-6, 6-1.
Monfils and No.11 Isner are the only seeded players left in the draw after Friday's elimination of Serb pair Troicki and Tipsarevic, third and sixth respectively, plus No. 5 Fernando Verdasco and No.7 Marcos Baghdatis.
Czech veteran Radek Stepanek beat Spain's Verdasco 6-4, 6-4, and will next take on American Donald Young, who downed Cyprus' Baghdatis 6-3, 7-6 (4).
For Monfils and Isner, it will be a rematch of their 2007 semifinal in Washington, which the American won in a third-set tiebreaker.
"That was a kind of spine-chilling, goose-bumps moment - a match I'll always remember," Isner said.
Young, who was a highly promising junior, had largely failed to live up to expectation in his time on the senior Tour but at age 22, had now broken through for his first ATP semi-final.
"For sure, the expectations were high. I didn't meet them necessarily at the time other people had expected," Young said. "But this is kind of close to around when I thought I would start playing well, for sure."
Young entered this hard-court tuneup for the U.S. Open ranked 128th and with a 19-53 career record as a professional. His run this week assures Young of returning to the top 100 in Monday's ATP rankings. If he reaches the final, he will surpass his previous high of 73rd.
"He's very talented, but it's a tough world out there," 2006 Australian Open finalist Baghdatis said. "You have to keep on working. You have to stay with your feet on the ground and keep on working hard and fighting."
Young said the improvement in his game was psychological rather than technical.
"It's my attitude towards playing. I feel like I actually can do it," Young said. "I'm going out there with the thought in mind before the match that I can do it, not with the hope of, 'Oh, if I play well, maybe I can.' That's a big change."
Baghdatis lacked his usual verve - perhaps a result of being forced to play a pair of three-set matches on Thursday - and put only 38 percent of his first serves in play.
"Playing six sets yesterday was a tough day. I wasn't 100 percent ready today," said Baghdatis, the runner-up in Washington last year. "He played smart. He knew that I was a bit tired. ... My hands were a bit tight. I couldn't just hit the ball the way I was hitting it yesterday."