Roger Federer could afford to smile after his quarterfinal victory on Wednesday night.
Sure, the world No. 1 and overwhelming favorite for the U.S. Open was forced to work harder than expected against Sweden's Robin Soderling. However, Federer can now put his feet up for two days and sip a cold one (maybe) while his rivals tire themselves out.
Federer won't have too many concerns about semifinal opponent Novak Djokovic, having established a clear psychological advantage over the young Serb since losing to him in the 2008 Australian Open.
A couple days of rest will serve him very nicely as he gears up for the rigors of back-to-back matches – Saturday’s semifinal and Sunday’s final.
While Soderling's huge hitting posed some problems in the third and fourth sets, everything points to a sixth straight Federer triumph at Flushing Meadows.
Full of confidence after winning the French Open and Wimbledon – and loving life after becoming a father – the Swiss maestro is unrecognizable from the listless figure we saw 15 months ago.
Federer has barely had to break a sweat so far. Indeed, the effort Soderling put in was clearly his toughest test of the tournament. Even then, there was always the sense that Federer had enough in reserve to pull out the victory.
Rafael Nadal has a great record against Federer, but the Spaniard faces the twin hurdles of his return from injury and a grueling schedule of three matches in four days – and maybe less.
It looks very much as if the only man who can stop Federer is himself.
The looming prospect of Thursday afternoon and evening rain casts an ugly, er, shadow over the tournament. Most affected could be the players in the lower half of the men's draw. If they are unable to finish their quarterfinals on the scheduled day, whoever emerges from that section will have to play three five-setters on consecutive days.
Melanie Oudin's brave run came to an end against Caroline Wozniacki, but what's that silence all about? Oh yes, no longer are the chirping voices lamenting the dearth of talent in American women's tennis spouting their views. Oudin has shown there is life after the Williams sisters, just one achievement in a remarkable fortnight for the 17-year-old.
Match of the day
The best contest of the day was the very first, an outstanding men's doubles semifinal at Arthur Ashe Stadium. Lukas Dlouhy and Leander Paes outlasted the Bryan brothers in a wildly fluctuating encounter, with Paes clinching victory with a dramatic intercepted volley on the final point.