U.S. Open Day 11 - Federer vs. Monfils leads the way

Stephanie Myles
Gael Monfils was sporting a different 'do when he and Federer played last fall in Shanghai, China. (AFP Photo/Peter Parks)

NEW YORK  – There is a lot of high-level tennis going on around the USTA National Tennis Center Thursday.

But the pièce de résistance will happen at 8 p.m., when the Fed faces La 'Monf.

Roger Federer and Gaël Monfils have the potential to light up Arthur Ashe Stadium, if their meeting a few weeks ago in Cincinnati (won 6-4 in the third set by Federer) is any indication.

This one will be best 3-of-5 sets, though, and it will test Monfils's new-found, well, calm and maturity this fortnight as he has rolled through the draw with barely a leaping overhead or flying forehand to be found.

Federer is 7-2 against Monfils during their careers.  Perhaps the most electric encounter came in the semifinals of the indoor event in Paris-Bercy in October, 2010. That court was lightning fast, Monfils was at home, and he won 7-6(7), 6-7(1), 7-6(4).

The two have met three times at Roland Garros, at the French Open, huge occasions with one being a semi-final, and the other two quarter-finals. Each time, Federer dashed the French hopes.

You could debate it, but these two, for different reasons, probably rank No. 1 and No. 2 on the list of players other players most like to watch play. Tennis Twitter should be alive tonight on the players' side.

The other quarter-final is a bit more of a tame affair, between No. 6 seed Tomas Berdych and No. 14 Marin Cilic.

Unlike the Federer-Monfils dynamic, Cilic and Berdych have a lot of similarities. Both are very tall, serve hard, have great groundstrokes and come to the net when they have to. Their on-court demeanours don't exactly light up the crowd. But they've both awfully good at what they do.

Berdych leads their head-to-head 5-3; Cilic tends to have the edge on faster surfaces (grass, indoors) while Berdych does better on the slower ones. The U.S. Open court is probably somewhere in the middle,

Their first meeting was a five-setter, won by the three-years-older Berdych, back in 2009 in the Davis Cup semi-finals between the Czech Republic and Croatia. Berdych won the first two sets, but was pushed to a fifth set before prevailing. They've not had an equally dramatic encounter since then, but a quarter-final at the U.S. Open would be a good time for one.

In other action, the women's doubles semifinals feature a pair of un-retirees in 43-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm and 33-year-old Martina Hingis. The two, born in 1970 and 1980, respectively (both at the end of September), have shown that true tennis skills can translate at any age.

Date-Krumm's run ended as she and partner Barbora Zahlavova Strycova lost to No. 4 seeds Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina 7-5, 6-3. Hingis and 32-year-old partner Flavia Pennetta face No. 3 seeds Cara Black and Sania Mirza.

The men's doubles semis have No. 1 Mike and Bob Bryan continuing their quest for title No. 100 together against the unseeded American pair of Rajeev Ram and Scott Lipsky. The other semi has No. 4 Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo vs. No. 11 Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez.

Several American juniors are still in action, including Stefan Kozlov, Francis Tiafoe, Alicia Black, Taylor Harry Fritz and Katarina Stewart in singles.