September 10, 2015
Something’s got to give. Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka are in irresistible form and now they must meet in the dream, all-Swiss semi-final at Flushing Meadows.
The statistics say is has to be Federer. He has won 16 out of their 19 meetings and Stan has never beaten Roger on a hard-court surface.
‘I don’t want to know the stats,’ laughed Wawrinka after beating Richard Gasquet with some ease, 6-4, 6-4, 6-0 in their quarter-final.
But what followed later was more serious, as Wawrinka began the psychological warfare. He said: ‘Before it was only me. I was nervous because I knew I wasn’t at his level for sure. Now I think we can see that he was nervous every time we played each other in the last few years. That’s a big difference, because that shows how much he knows I can play at his level.’
And Stan the Man can taken plenty of confidence from his straight sets victory over Federer at the French Open earlier this summer. Wawrinka went on to win the tournament. ‘Stan played a wonderful match against me in Paris,’ Roger admitted.
Federer will take some comfort from the fact that he has only ever lost to Wawrinka on clay. And right now he is flying. Roger has won 25 consecutive sets, his longest run since 2008. He took just 87 minutes to dispose of Gasquet and claimed that facing John Isner previously had stood him in good stead.
The Fed explained: ‘I just saw those massive serves come down. I don’t know, I felt I just had extra time [against Gasquet]. I played a very good match, I felt the ball great.’
Wawrinka will be trying to seize the initiative from Federer from the start and is sure to come out with all guns blazing. He won 25 out of 29 points against a drained Kevin Anderson in their last set.
So we can expect the first set between Federer and Wawrinka to be one of the most explosive in recent memory. And there is already a buzz in the air as Flushing Meadows prepares for the fireworks.
In the other semi-final, number one seed Novak Djokovic is expected to defeat last year’s champion, Marin Cilic, though the Serb will have to be at his very best to beat the big Croatian.
The smart money is on a Djokovic versus Federer final, still a mouth-watering prospect, yet Wawrinka certainly won’t go down without a massive fight and neither will Cilic, who seems to love the US Open like no other.
Meanwhile the prospect of a Serena Williams versus Simona Halep final is still very much on. Both have Italian opponents, Roberta Vinci and Flavia Pennetta, to deal with in their semi-finals first.
But if anyone is going to derail Serena’s historic Calendar Slam, you sense that the fearless Romanian could offer the greatest threat.