Roger Federer punctuated his latest US Open victory with a shot he described, quite simply, the greatest of his life: a between-the-legs, back-to-the-net, crosscourt winner from the baseline.
A point later, with the crowd in hysterics and opponent Novak Djokovic still in shock, the world's top-ranked player closed out the victory, 7-6 (3), 7-5, 7-5, to move one win from his sixth straight US Open title yesterday.
Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina earlier handed Rafael Nadal his worst loss in a major tournament, beating the Spaniard 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 to reach his first Grand Slam final and a meeting with Federer, who made his 17th in the last 18.
Serbia's Djokovic fought for more than 2 1/2 hours on a day that grew increasingly windy at Arthur Ashe Stadium, hanging with Federer and even grabbing two break points late in the third set to briefly see a glimmer of hope.
Some things, though, there are no answers for, and the winner Federer hit to set up match point was the perfect example. It's the kind of shot every tennis player has tried, and one the world No 1 actually practices.
"A lot, actually," he said. "But they never work. That's why, I guess, it was the greatest shot I ever hit in my life."
Ahead 5-4 and 30-0 in the third set, Federer sprinted to the net to return a Djokovic drop shot, then Djokovic finessed a lob over Federer's head that bounced barely inside the baseline.