It’s been an easy road for Roger Federer so far in the 2014 US Open, and it’s not that difficult of a journey, at least to the final, and maybe his 18th Grand Slam title. Gael Monfils is next, and after him maybe Tomas Berdych or Marin Cilic, which means there quite an opening for the greatest player in the history of the game, 33 of age, to reach the final of the tournament for the first time in five years.
Federer has gone through Marinko Matosevic in the first round, Sam Groth in the second round, Marcel Granollers in the third round (the only player to take a set off of him) and Roberto Bautista Agut in a fantastic night game from Federer, who usually shines under the artificial lights at Queen’s with a career 17-1 record in night games when playing at Flushing Meadows.
Next up, in the quarterfinals, is Gael Monfils. Federer is 7-2 in his career against the 20th seed in this tournament, who is in the quarterfinals of the US Open for only the second time in his career and is in the Elite Eight of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in the 2011 French Open. The 28-year old had two impressive wins in the previous rounds – one over Richard Gasquet in the third round (12th seed) and then against 7th seed Georgi Dimitrov in straight sets.
Maybe this is the tournament for Monfils, who won a tournament this year for the first time since 2011 and is having quite the comeback season. However, in most of his career matches against Federer, on clay or hard courts, the consistency and quality have been too hard to bridge with his fading athleticism and fantastic return game. His only chance against Federer is to draw out this match so fatigue becomes a factor. Monfils has yet to drop a set in this tournament.
It’s a bit too soon to think about big hitters like Berdych, a player Federer has struggled against through his career (six losses in 18 matches) but has beaten this season to win the tournament in Dubai, or Cilic, who Federer has a perfect five-for-five record against, and has also beaten him this season. Monfils himself also has one loss to Federer this year in the Cincinnati Masters tournament.
There are still Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Stanislas Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori to be wary of for Federer, but those can only clash with him in the final. The last time Federer made the final was in 2009, losing to Juan Martin Del Potro and ending a streak of five consecutive wins at Queen’s. He can set a new record for US Open titles by winning a sixth one, and it’s hard to believe things will be aligned for him as well as they have in this one later in his career. The time is now, or probably never again. Which is something that is said about Federer ever year.