New York: Even Roger Federer is wowed by how well he’s playing at 34 — and the ease with which he’s winning at this U.S. Open.
Federer is into his 10th semifinal at Flushing Meadows, and record 38th at all major tournaments. To get back to his first final in New York since 2009, he’ll have to beat someone he knows quite well: Swiss Olympic and Davis Cup teammate Stan Wawrinka.
The No. 2-seeded Federer and No. 5 Wawrinka won quarterfinals about as handily as can be Wednesday night.
Federer never faced a break point, compiled a remarkable 50-8 advantage in winners, and needed less than 1 1/2 hours to dismiss 12th-seeded Richard Gasquet of France 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
“It’s nice to play this way,” Federer said. “And, maybe at my age, to run through five opponents the way I have done here at the U.S. Open, I don’t consider that normal, to be quite honest, even though I expect it in some ways.”
Not only has Federer won all 15 sets he’s played, he has only dropped 44 games. He has won 67 of his 69 service games. And he’s done it while playing attacking tennis; against Gasquet, he won the point on 22 of 28 trips to the net.
“I don’t feel like I’m as old as I am. I still feel young,” Federer said. “So it’s nice to get rewarded with the hard work and (know) that, actually, I’m able to play sort of ‘fun’ tennis.”
He hasn’t won a major title since Wimbledon in 2012, losing finals there to No. 1 Novak Djokovic last year and this July.
“It’s just nice to see how he’s moving,” Wawrinka said about Federer. “You think he’s flying on the court.”
And make no mistake: Wawrinka has been watching.
He even pulled out one of Federer’s tricks — a recently developed tactic of charging to the service line for a second-serve return — while eliminating 15th-seeded Kevin Anderson of South Africa 6-4, 6-4, 6-0.
Moved from Ashe to Louis Armstrong Stadium because of two lengthy women’s quarterfinals plus a 1 1/2-hour rain delay earlier, the match took 1 hour, 47 minutes in all, but the third set, in particular, was dominated by Wawrinka, who won 24 of its 29 points.
Wawrinka solved the 6-foot-8 Anderson’s serve, converting 5 of 8 break points. Anderson had been broken a total of four times through his first four matches combined, including his surprise of 2012 U.S. Open champion Andy Murray.
Anderson called that victory, which put him into the quarterfinals at a major for the first time after previously going 0-7 in fourth-round matches, “a big moment.”
“I felt I did a good job of resetting myself and getting ready for this next match,” Anderson said. “Wasn’t meant to be today. Stan didn’t make it easy.”
Most of his career, Wawrinka has lived in the shadow of his older — and far more successful — countryman, Federer. Wawrinka didn’t break through with his first Grand Slam title until the 2014 Australian Open. He added No. 2 this year at the French Open, beating Federer in the quarterfinals along the way.
Still, that was only Wawrinka’s third victory in 19 career matches against Federer. They’re good friends and paired up to win a gold medal in doubles at the 2008 Olynpics.
“Stan played a wonderful match against me in Paris, and I was very happy for him that he went on to win the tournament. He deserved it. He’s been such a great player throughout his career. He always improved a lot, kept on working really hard,” Federer said.
“Couldn’t be happier to play him here, to be quite honest,” Federer added. “Two Swiss in the semis of the U.S. Open — it’s very cool for both of us.”
In Friday’s other semifinal, Djokovic will face defending champion Marin Cilic. Djokovic won all 13 previous meetings.
The women’s semifinals are scheduled for Thursday night, although there is rain in the forecast: No. 1 Serena Williams vs. unseeded Roberta Vinci of Italy, and No. 2 Simona Halep vs. No. 26 Flavia Pennetta of Italy. It’s the first time two Italian women reached the semifinals at the same major.
Halep and Pennetta advanced Wednesday by beating two-time major champions. Halep composed herself after a third-set rain break and defeated Victoria Azarenka 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, while Pennetta beat Kvitova 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.
Williams is chasing tennis’ first calendar-year Grand Slam since Steffi Graf did it 1988.