Novak Djokovic struggled in a battle of generations before finally getting past Carlos Moya 6-4, 7-6 (9-7), 6-1 for a place in the men's singles semi-final of US Open tennis.
Moya, more than a decade older than his opponent, ended frustratingly on Thursday with two double-faults.
Serb third seed Djokovic, continually thwarted by the game of the 31-year-old former number one, prevented an all-Spanish showdown between Moya and David Ferrer, the 15th seed who had earlier booked his own semi-final place. <b1>
Ferrer followed up on his ouster of number two seed Rafael Nadal as he reached the semi-final of a Grand Slam event for the first time in his career with a 6-2, 6-3, 7-5 defeat of Juan Ignacio Chela of Argentina.
"I play more on clay. But if you told me before that I'd make a Grand Slam semi on hard court, I wouldn't believe you - clay maybe, but not hard court," said Ferrer, whose last ATP Tour title came in January on the synthetic Rebound Ace courts in Auckland, New Zealand.
"This tournament has been a dream for me. I'm playing very, very well. I'm really happy."
Moya, the 1998 French Open champion, was the third Spanish-speaking opponent in a row for 20-year-old Djokovic, who has now reached his third straight semi-final of Grand Slam events after The French Open and Wimbledon.
Moya was bidding for the last four in New York, nine years after previously completing the feat. The pair now stand 2-2 in their head-to-head meetings after Moya won two matches over Djokovic this season.
Djokovic was unable to get a tight grip on the first set, finally ending the struggle with a break in the final game.
Midway through the second, Moya showed flashes of his best, saving five break points in a 14-point marathon game to hold for 2-all.
But the younger man managed to squeeze out a tiebreaker to go two sets up before turning the screws in the third on the way to victory, breaking the veteran's serve three times to go through on a roll.
"It's always good to win in three sets," said Djokovic.
"Carlos is a big competitor, and he has a lot of experience. Luckily I had a good tiebreak and played my best tennis when I needed to. I'm pretty confident in that situation. This is one of the best feelings I've had, playing here."
Djokovic has an enviable tiebreak record, having won 54 against only 19 losses.
"I've had good results on hard court," he said. "I can't say I expected to already be third in the world, but I've been working hard and trying, and it's paying off."
Ferrer dominated his first meeting on hard court against Chela after losing twice to the Argentine on clay.
The Spaniard had five breaks of serve in 16 chances, obtaining his last in the penultimate game as the South American was unable to handle a return at his feet.
Ferrer, winner of a title on cement in January in Auckland, moved through on his third match point from a low forehand into the net off the Chela racket.
"I can't believe this. I'm so happy to win," said Ferrer. "I played very focussed the entire match. I just tried to do my best. I'm playing very well here."
Ferrer's previous best showing at a Grand Slam event was a French Open semi-final two years ago.