Rafael Nadal demolished Andrey Rublev on Wednesday to reach a sixth US Open semi-final, setting up a first-time New York showdown against Roger Federer if the Swiss legend can down Argentine giant Juan Martin del Potro.
World number one Nadal, the 2010 and 2013 champion, brushed aside Russian 19-year-old Rublev 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 in just 97 minutes.
Rublev, ranked 53 and playing in his first Slam quarter-final, was broken seven times and committed 43 unforced errors.
Nadal and Federer have come close to facing off on Arthur Ashe Stadium on five previous occasions when they were just one match away, only for one of the two to lose.
Back in 2008, legendary boxing promoter Don King, never short of hyperbole, even dubbed the potential clash as “Grapple in the Apple.”
“It would be more special if Roger and I met in the final this year, so we will have to try and come back and make it happen,” said 31-year-old Nadal, who has reached his 26th Grand Slam semi-final.
The reigning French Open champion and 15-time major winner added that he might not watch all of the Federer-Del Potro match as it clashes with his dinner time.
“We are from Spain and we always eat very late but of course I will be paying attention to it,” Nadal said. “They are two great players and will be a good show.”
If Nadal and Federer, the Australian Open and Wimbledon champion, do meet on Friday, it will also be a duel for the world number one spot.
Venus Williams has once again been rolling back the years at the US Open and is one match away from her first final in New York since 2002.
Standing in her way, on Thursday, is fellow American Sloane Stephens – 13 years her junior – who is vying to reach her very first Grand Slam final.
While it will be intriguing to see if the 37-year-old can win two more matches to become the oldest champion of the Open Era – it has already been a superb season for Queen Vee.
Here, we look at some of the amazing stats and figures surrounding a stellar nine months so far for the seven-time Grand Slam champion.
Can Venus win the US Open?
You have to go back seven years, to 2010, for the last time in which the two-time New York champion (2000 and 2001) reached the last four on US soil.
Indeed, in four of her last six visits to Flushing Meadows, she had failed to pass the third round.
That’s all changed this year though and she will be hoping to go one better than her 2010 defeat to eventual champion Kim Clijsters.
Aside from her title wins at the start of the last decade, Venus has failed to win any of her four other semi-finals outings in Manhattan, as well as two other finals (1997 and 2002).
Amazingly, entering New York, Venus was the only player on the women’s tour to have reached or gone beyond the fourth round stage at her last six Grand Slams – beginning with a last-16 appearance at the 2016 French Open.
This year, the current world No.9, became the third-oldest player to return to the top ten after reaching the Wimbledon final (37 years, 29 days) – behind legends Billie Jean King (39 years, 322 days) and Martina Navratilova (38 years, 75 days).
Simply put, Venus has been playing her best tennis in years.
Her win over then world No.1 Angelique Kerber in the Miami quarter-finals in April – made her the oldest player of all time (36 years, nine months) to topple a player in top spot.
Additionally, ahead of this year’s US Open, only Garbine Muguruza ($4,394,182) and Simona Halep ($3,670,662) had won more prize money than her $3,496,842 haul.
Venus’ appearance at the 2017 edition of the US Open – her 76th in Grand Slams – is an Open Era record as she comfortably leads fellow American Amy Frazier (71), all-time great Navratilova (67), Italian Francesca Schiavone (67) and sister Serena Williams.
She has missed only eight major tournaments since debuting way back in 1997 and after reaching the final of Wimbledon in July, Williams now holds the record for the largest span of years of competing in Grand Slam finals (20).
Again, that puts her ahead of Navratilova (19 from 1975-1994) and sister Serena (1999-2017) – who will need to play on for at least two more years to match that.
2017 started in the best way possible for the 37-year-old after she reached the Australian Open final – the first time she had contested a major final showdown since 2009 – only to lose to sister Serena.
The five-time Wimbledon champion also reached her first SW19 final in eight years – losing to Spaniard Muguruza – in a vintage run on the lawns of south-west London.
It was the first time she had reached the finals of two majors in the same year since 2003. In New York, she will be vying for her first Slam since Wimbledon 2008.
Without doubt, it has been Venus’ best season in slams for years and even she has found it hard to get to the bottom of the reasons behind her terrific form, when quizzed in press conferences.
Aged 37 and three months, Venus is the oldest player to have advanced through to the semi-finals of a Grand Slam since 1994 – when Navratilova recorded that feat aged just two months older.
Could she become the oldest winner of them all come Saturday on Arthur Ashe Stadium?
We’ll soon find out but this has certainly been the year of the veteran with a certain 36-year-old Roger Federer winning two Grand Slams also.
It goes to show that with modern sports science techniques and recovery, players are being able to play on for much longer at a higher level.
After reaching the semi-finals, Venus is guaranteed to return to the top five of the WTA rankings for the first time since January 2011 – and if she wins the title – she can climb as high as No.2 in the world, depending on other results.
4 — wins over top-10 opponents in 2017
6 — Venus’ current position in the Race to Singapore standings
19 — match wins and 3 losses for Venus in Grand Slams in 2017 so far
20 — years since Venus played her first US Open. She made the final on her debut
34 — wins and 10 losses for Venus so far this season
159 — aces struck so far in 2017
Garbine Muguruza will become the new WTA World No.1 when the updated rankings are released on Monday, September 11.
The 23-year-old reached the second week of the US Open for the first time this year before falling to Petra Kvitova in the fourth round, and has emerged on top of a field of eight women who could potentially have finished the tournament at No.1. Muguruza’s position was sealed after current No.1 and last year’s runner-up Karolina Pliskova fell to CoCo Vandeweghe in the quarter-finals, failing to defend her finalist points.
Muguruza becomes the second player representing Spain to achieve this historic milestone since the computer rankings were introduced in 1975, and would be the 24th woman overall to hold the No.1 ranking. She follows in the footsteps of compatriot Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario, who held the top spot for 12 weeks across three separate spells in 1995.
Born in Venezuela, Muguruza moved to Spain in 1999 at the age of six. Her rise to the summit comes after her second Grand Slam title, which she won at Wimbledon in July, beating Venus Williams in the final.
She had previously won Roland Garros in 2016, when she became just the fifth woman to defeat Serena Williams in a major final.
Muguruza’s rise to WTA World No.1 brings an end to the reign of Czech Pliskova, who spent eight weeks in the position this summer.