New York:Top ranked Roger Federer edged Andy Roddick 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4), 6-2 in the quarterfinals on Wednesday to move two victories away from a fourth consecutive US Open title.
Roddick played nearly flawlessly against Federer, serving brilliantly, returning well and giving tennis' top player a tough time. To Roddick's dismay, it all added up to yet another loss.
Both came out wearing black shirts and shorts, Roddick adding a baseball cap, and Federer his trademark bandanna.
The outfits matched and so did the level of play, right down until late in the third set, when Federer finally earned his first break points, allowing him to improve to 14-1 against Roddick over their careers.
This rematch of last year's US Open final was hardly the mismatch one might have expected. "I tried to hang in there," Federer said. "It was a tough match, I thought. Andy was serving out of a tree."
Banging serves consistently up to 146 mph, Roddick hit 14 aces and didn't have a single double-fault. Then again, Federer came up with 15 aces, also never double-faulted, and erased the only break point he faced, in the second set.
Both played remarkably cleanly, combining for 90 winners (48 for Federer) and only 42 unforced errors (18 for Federer). It came down to those two tiebreakers.
With Federer ahead 5-4 in the first one, Roddick smacked a 130 mph serve that Federer got back. Roddick charged the net behind a good approach shot, but Federer flicked a cross-court backhand passing winner, leaving the American cursing.
At 6-5, Federer hit a 122 mph ace and slowly punched the air to celebrate while Roddick muttered to himself.
It was almost the same in the second tiebreaker. At 4-4, Roddick unleashed a 140 mph serve, and Federer conjured up a backhand return that put the ball right at the opposite baseline.
Roddick couldn't handle it, and two points later, Federer's 128 mph service winner put him ahead by two sets and sent many in the partisan crowd streaming for the exits.
Federer earned his first break points all evening at 3-2 in the third set. Roddick erased the first with the help of a fortuitous net-cord bounce, and he laughed a bit at his luck while trudging back to the baseline. Seconds later, his expression was far more downcast as he missed a backhand long, for the first break by either player.
Federer broke again to end the match and extend his own record by getting to a 14th consecutive Grand Slam semifinal. That's where he will meet No. 4 Nikolay Davydenko, against whom Federer is 9-0.
"I've got a pretty good record against him. Never lost," Federer said. "But let's not get ahead of ourselves."
Well, let's, if only for a moment. Should he defeat Davydenko on Saturday, Federer would add to another of his own records by making a 10th straight major final. And a victory on Sunday would not only make Federer the first man since the 1920s to win the American Grand Slam four years running, it would give him 12 Grand Slam titles overall - only Pete Sampras, with 14, won more.
In Wednesday's earlier men's quarterfinal, No 4 Davydenko, at the center of tennis' betting probe, reached the final four at Flushing Meadows for the second consecutive year by beating No. 10 German Tommy Haas 6-3, 6-3, 6-4.
He then again denied any involvement with gamblers and offered an explanation of what he thinks led to the red flags last month.
"I don't care what's happening out there," Davydenko said, referring to the investigation. "For me, it's more important what I do right now here."
A British online gambling company voided all bets on Davydenko's match against 87th-ranked Martin Vassallo Arguello in Poland in early August, after $7 million (euro5 million) was wagered - 10 times the usual amount.
Most of the money backed Arguello, even after Davydenko won the first set; the match went to a third set, and Davydenko quit with a foot injury.