Roger Federer maintained his dominance over Andy Roddick to reach the semifinals of the US Open on Wednesday, keeping alive his bid to win four titles in a row in New York.
The top seed and defending champion defeated the home favourite 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/4), 6-2 in an intense night-time encounter that turned on two tie-breaks which brought out the brilliant best from the world's top player.
Federer made it 26 wins in a row at the US Open and he is now just two games away from emulating the four-in-a-row feat of Bill Tilden in the 1920s.
"I could do nothing on his serve for two and half sets - that shows you how good a server he is. That was a tough thing," he said. "But I played well on my own service games.
"I played great in the tie-breakers and once he was down two sets to none it was obviously a hard thing to come back against me."
In Saturday's semi-finals, the Swiss star will play fourth seed Nikolay Davydenko of Russia, against whom he has a 9-0 winning record.
Davydenko, who lost to Federer in last year's semi-final in New York, defeated Germany's Tommy Haas 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 sending him into the last four as the only player not to have dropped a set.
Roddick's defeat means that the winless stretch for American men in Grand Slam tournaments extends to 16, one short of the record between 1984 and 1989. It was also his 14th defeat in 15 games against Federer, including the last 10 in a row.
"I played well. I'm not walking off with any questions in my head this time. I'm not walking with my head down. I played my ass off out there tonight and can hold my head high, but that doesn't mean I can't be pissed off," he said.
Both Federer and Roddick were dressed in black for their much-anticipated prime-time showdown for which the world No.1 was the hot favourite.
Roddick was pumped up for the challenge and with his serve operating at full blast, the first set raced towards a tie-break.
Federer made the mini-break with a marvellous backhand pass beating Roddick's charge to the net and then he blasted down an ace on set point.
Roddick had the first break point in the match for either man in the eighth game of the second set but he hit long on a backhand service return.
The American, only a year younger than Federer at 25 but with just one Grand Slam title to Federer's 11, was taking most of the initiatives and was comfortable on his own serve.
But once again he came off second best in the tie-break, Federer hitting a fabulous blocked return winner off a 140 mph Roddick first serve to grab the mini-break and then blasting a service winner to go two sets ahead.
Roddick had a Swiss mountain to climb and the hike became well-nigh impossible when Federer finally crafted two break points in the sixth game of the third set and gleefully converted the second to lead 4-2.
Federer then pocketed the next two games against an exasperated Roddick to finish off the match in two hours two minutes.
The 26-year-old Davydenko never looked like losing his perfect set record against a subdued Haas, who had endured two tough five-setters in a row to get into the last eight.
The lightning-quick Russian rapidly imposed his relentless rhythm on the German, who found himself under increasing pressure and started making a string of unforced errors.
Haas was two sets down in no time and it was only in the third set when he started mixing up his game that he managed to really compete.
The players exchanged four breaks of serve in a row from 2-2, but when Davydenko made it five breaks in a row to lead 5-4, Haas reacted with frustration by blasting a ball out of the stadium.
A few minutes later it was all over as Davydenko comfortably closed out the match on serve.
Haas paid tribute to the Russian, saying that he had dominated the match with his accurate and penetrating ground strokes.
"At times he makes you try to do too much. That got to me mentally. Every time I tried to do something different he came up with an answer. I don't know how he does it," he said.
Davydenko has now lost just 39 games in reaching the semi-finals of a Grand Slam event for the fourth time - twice at the French Open in 2005 and 2007 along with his last-four appearance in New York last year.
The two remaining quarter-finals, scheduled for Thursday, will send third seeded Novak Djokovic of Serbia against Spanish veteran Carlos Moya and Spain's David Ferrer against Juan Ignacio Chela of Argentina.