Few would disagree that men's tennis is due a makeover and perhaps we are closer than ever to glimpsing its new face.

The same names are reeled off at every grand slam when talk turns to the 'next generation', and Kei Nishikori ran us through them on the first day of this US Open.

The Japanese put himself forward as a possible contender, then added: "You see [Dominic] Thiem playing finals, and I think a couple of guys are getting closer.

"Of course, Sascha [Alexander Zverev] is a great player and a couple of young guys: Felix [Auger-Aliassime], [Denis] Shapovalov, [Nick] Kyrgios, those guys who are coming up, too. Oh, yes, and [Daniil] Medvedev."

Four times a year, the debate turns to which '#NextGen' star – Nishikori is now 29 – might be able to end the slam dominance of the 'Big Three'.

Andy Murray had made it a 'Big Four' and Stan Wawrinka won three majors in three years, but the latter's Flushing Meadows triumph in 2016 was the last time one of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic, three of the greatest players in history, did not win a grand slam.

There is certainly no shame in coming up short when those three represent the competition.

Federer has made his home in Melbourne and at Wimbledon, Nadal is close to untouchable on clay, and Djokovic, on his day and when fit, has the full package.

Opportunities for the rest are scarce. Thiem has been able to beat Nadal on the red dirt but not at Roland Garros, losing consecutive finals. The US Open has seen a varied cast of recent finalists, yet Djokovic has played in three of the past four deciders and won two of them.

This is the golden era of men's tennis, and yet...

Whisper it quietly, but might there be an argument that it has become a little dull seeing the same three names top the honours boards four times a year?

Can we have too much of a good thing? Federer, Nadal and Djokovic are certainly a good thing. They have done wonders for tennis with their efforts both individually and collectively.

But sport is arguably at its best when it is unpredictable, when fans come along for the ride not knowing which way it will twist or turn.

Look at the NFL or the NBA, where regular-season records count for nothing when the top seeds – like the New Orleans Saints or the Milwaukee Bucks – fall short in the playoffs. Look at the Champions League, where Manchester City, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain, try as they might, cannot turn domestic dominance into European success. Look a little closer to home at the WTA Tour.

For while men's tennis is a closed shop, the women's equivalent is anything but. Since Serena Williams completed her second 'Serena Slam' in 2015, there have been 10 different champions across 16 major tournaments.

Serena can dismantle any opponent when on top form and has at times done so this year, but the competition is healthy, the results are often unexpected.

So this year's men's US Open has been similarly refreshing.

We can all remember classic Djokovic-Federer clashes – as recently as the Wimbledon final – but Grigor Dimitrov downed the great Swiss in a New York epic, while Matteo Berrettini described his own quarter-final against Gael Monfils as "one of the best matches I've ever seen".

Seeing new faces compete at the business end of the tournament has been uplifting, with unusually early exits for Federer and Djokovic presenting opportunities for others to forge legacies.

And now, one could argue, we must have a new winner. Only Nadal, with a patchy recent hard-court record, remains of the superhuman trio. He is the favourite but surely he is beatable.

Because how quickly would a thrilling fortnight be forgotten if, come the start of next year, Nadal and Djokovic each held two slam titles? Conversely, a triumphant Medvedev, Dimitrov or Berrettini would renew hope within the locker room.

The 'Big Three' might not have long left at the top – particularly in 38-year-old Federer's case – but the 'next generation' need not wait that long to get over the hump. This looks like a fine opportunity.

Bianca Andreescu was left asking "is this real life?" after reaching the semi-finals of the US Open on Wednesday.

The teenager fought back from a set down to defeat Elise Mertens 3-6 6-2 6-3 to secure a last-four clash against Belinda Bencic.

At the end of the match, Andreescu looked towards her box with an almost anguished facial expression and the 19-year-old admitted she was coming to terms with the magnitude of her achievement.

"I said 'is this real life?' twice. I couldn't really believe it at that moment," said the 19-year-old.

"But then when I sat down, I just couldn't stop smiling, like I can't now."

Andreescu had never gone beyond round two of a grand slam before this tournament and the Canadian feels she is yet to show her best form.

"I'm going to be honest. I don't think I played my best tennis. I just fought really well with what I had every single day," she added. 

"I think that's the most important thing for me and I'm sure for every athlete you're not going to have good days every day.

"So, I just try my best to figure out what's going well and what's not and just go from there."

Canada has never produced a male or female singles grand slam champion, but Andreescu says the prospect of becoming the first is not on her mind.

"No, that hasn't really entered my mind, but that would be pretty awesome," she said. 

"If it happens, then I think I can pave way for many other athletes, the next generation, not only for Canadian tennis but I think for many people."

Rafael Nadal says his body is holding up well amid the rigours of a deep run at the US Open, where he booked a spot in the semi-finals on Wednesday.

With Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer having already exited at Flushing Meadows, Nadal is the hot favourite in New York and the Spaniard took a step closer to glory with a straight-sets win over Diego Schwartzman.

A 6-4 7-5 6-2 triumph did not tell the whole story against an opponent who provided a stern test for three-time US Open champion Nadal.

Nadal, who has endured well-documented injury troubles in his career, needed medical treatment on an arm issue but the 18-time grand slam winner insists he is in good shape.

"I'm feeling good. [It] was a very humid day, very heavy day. I had some cramps in the end of the second [set] and [in the] the first five or six games of the third," he said.

"And then I take some salt, that's all, and then it was over. The body is in good shape, I think. No, not big problems. 

"Of course, now I'm a little bit tired, it's been a long day. I need to go to sleep. But I really believe that I'm going to be in good shape."

Standing in the way of Nadal and a place in the final is outsider Matteo Berrettini, who defeated Gael Monfils in a marathon five-set encounter.

It was put to Nadal the Italian poses a similar threat to that of Marin Cilic, who he defeated in four sets prior to overcoming Schwartzman, given both players' propensity for power hitting and big serving.

But Nadal is expecting an altogether different challenge.

"I approach the game in a different way. I have one day to think about it, honestly," he added. 

"I just won a very important match for me and it is the moment to enjoy this victory. 

"Tomorrow afternoon I'm going to start to think about what's the plan for after tomorrow, and today is the moment to enjoy that feeling, be in semi-finals of a grand slam again. 

"I achieved the four semi-finals of the four grand slams this year and that's a lot. I'm very, very happy for that."

Andy Murray will have to endure a long process to get back to a level he is happy with as he continues his return from hip surgery, according to his brother Jamie.

Murray was expected to retire from tennis after an emotional media conference at the Australian Open as he revealed the full extent of his injury struggles, with most anticipating a thrilling five-set first-round loss to Roberto Bautista Agut to mark his farewell.

However, the three-time grand slam champion and former world number one underwent a hip resurfacing operation in the hope of extending his career and returned at Queen's Club in June, winning the doubles alongside Feliciano Lopez.

He played in the men's doubles and alongside Serena Williams in the mixed doubles at Wimbledon before partnering with Jamie at the Citi Open in Washington. Murray then made his singles comeback at the Cincinnati Masters, losing 6-4 6-4 to Richard Gasquet before being beaten by Tennys Sandgren in three sets at the Winston-Salem Open.

After two victories at a challenger event in Mallorca, Murray conceded to being fatigued following a three-set defeat to world number 240 Matteo Viola.

The 32-year-old opted to skip the US Open in order to play on the Balearic Island and work on his singles game in three-set matches, with Murray poised to feature in a number of tournaments on the forthcoming Asia swing.

Elder brother Jamie, who progressed to the semi-finals of the men's doubles with Neal Skupski and the final of the mixed alongside Bethanie Mattek-Sands at Flushing Meadows on Wednesday, believes it is important not to expect too much too soon from the two-time Wimbledon winner.

Speaking to reporters in New York, he said: "[It's] great that he's back on court competing. We had a lot of fun in Washington playing, that was really cool.

"For me to see him out there competing and playing well and enjoying it was really cool those few weeks that he was playing doubles. 

"To see him back playing in Cincinnati was really nice, although maybe he didn't perform the way he wanted to. It's going to be a long process for him to get back to the level that he's happy with.

"You saw with other guys, it took a while. [Stan] Wawrinka he's only now just being back at the level he's used to playing, it took him a long time after his arm injury.

"I think his goal is just to try to play as many matches as he can until the end of the year and try to get a good feeling and find his rhythm and confidence and I guess also find out what his movement level is going to be and then give himself hopefully the best chance to do a good pre-season and be ready for next year."

US Open spectators had their appetite for world class tennis satiated once again on Wednesday, as Matteo Berrettini and Gael Monfils delivered a thriller at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Berrettini needed nearly four hours to see off Monfils in five sets to reach his first grand slam semi-final.

The secret to his success at Flushing Meadows may be in the meals he is eating at his favourite New York restaurant, which was soon on his mind after his marathon victory.

Omnisport's man on the ground, Nicholas McGee, provides the details in our daily diary from New York.


GIOVANNI A GOOD LUCK CHARM FOR BERRETTINI

Berrettini had a new face in his box during his victory over Monfils, Giovanni Bartocci, the owner of Via Della Pace, an Italian restaurant in Manhattan's East Village that the 23-year-old has frequented during his time in New York.

Bartocci will likely be invited back after witnessing Berrettini's performance in defeating his French opponent, with the Italian set to face Rafael Nadal in the last four.

Asked in his media conference about his friendship with Bartocci, Berrettini replied: "The owner, yeah, Giovanni. Actually, he's from Rome, my city. So, you know, is not tough to get friend with a guy from the same city.

"I knew him last year. He's such a nice guy. He's always cheering for Italians. I mean, I'm the only one left, so now he's cheering for me."

On his favourite dish at the restaurant. he added: "Pasta for sure. But I like pasta in bianco. I don't know if you know it. It's like just oil and parmesan. Simple but really good."


A SUSHI CELEBRATION FOR MURRAY

Shifting to culinary delights from a different region, sushi was on the menu for Jamie Murray after his and Neal Skupski's win over Jack Sock and Jackson Withrow in the men's doubles.

The Scot snacked on the Japanese fare as he spoke to reporters following that three-set triumph.

It clearly provided the boost he needed as Murray went on to also claim victory in the mixed doubles alongside Bethanie Mattek-Sands, the pair progressing to the final by defeating Rajeev Ram and Samantha Stosur.


SCHWARTZMAN WINS SPORTSMANSHIP AWARD

Diego Schwartzman received no reward for an admirable performance against Nadal, as he was defeated in three sets by the highest remaining seed and now tournament favourite.

He can take some solace, however, in that his conduct on and off the court has been recognised.

Before speaking to reporters following his elimination, Schwartzman was presented with the US Open sportsmanship award for 2019.

A well-deserved honour for a player who should have won plenty of new fans with his displays at Flushing Meadows.

Rafael Nadal overcame a spirited effort from Diego Schwartzman 6-4 7-5 6-2 to move within two wins of his 19th grand slam title at the US Open on Wednesday.

Nadal had effusively praised Schwartzman ahead of their quarter-final encounter at Flushing Meadows, telling a media conference he liked "everything" about the 20th seed's game.

He should now find plenty of people agreeing with that assessment after Schwartzman, who knocked out Alexander Zverev in a fourth-round result Nadal said did not surprise him, wiped out 4-0 and 5-1 leads for the number two seed in the first and second sets.

Where the diminutive Schwartzman came up short was in turning those fightbacks into turnarounds, with Nadal able to find his best when it counted in a victory that sets up a semi-final with Matteo Berrettini.

Nadal made a blistering start as he peppered the Schwartzman serve right from the off and broke when the Argentine sent a backhand into the net.

Those inside Arthur Ashe Stadium would have been forgiven for believing a rout was in the offing as he raced through the first four games in New York.

By the same token nobody would have expected the service game he subsequently dropped to be little more than a blip for Nadal, but it gave Schwartzman momentum and he completely erased the deficit with the help of a forehand into the tramlines from the second seed.

He then had a chance to break for a 5-4 lead but overhit a volley in what proved a costly error as Nadal held and then broke to take the set when Schwartzman could only return a backhand slice into the net.

The second set provided a sense of deja vu as Nadal again moved into a comfortable lead only to surrender it.

A forehand overhead at the end of a 14-shot rally gave Nadal a break for 3-1 and that advantage soon became 5-1 but again Schwartzman roared back.

Schwartzman brought the crowd to its feet with a marvellous forehand passing shot in the seventh game, which he took with a baseline winner to break back and start another run of four successive games.

Nadal stemmed the tide, though, and then went 40-0 up on the Schwartzman serve. Schwartzman was only able to save two of the three break points and the sense of inevitability at the end of the second sent supporters flooding out of the arena.

Schwartzman was defiant in the third but by that point he was only delaying Nadal's passage into the last four, and he finally buckled after lofting wide to give the three-time US Open champion a break he was never in danger of offering back.

 

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN
Rafael Nadal [2] bt Diego Schwartzman [20] 6-4 7-5 6-2

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Nadal – 35/39
Schwartzman – 26/37

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Nadal – 5/1
Schwartzman – 4/3

BREAK POINTS WON
Nadal – 7/13
Schwartzman – 4/10

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Nadal – 63
Schwartzman – 60

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Nadal – 70/50
Schwartzman – 58/46

TOTAL POINTS
Nadal – 100
Schwartzman - 83

Matteo Berrettini revealed the occasion of playing on Arthur Ashe Stadium left him checking his heartbeat during his epic quarter-final win over Gael Monfils at the US Open.

Berrettini clinched a place in his first grand slam semi-final in a near four-hour battle with Monfils, winning the fifth set in a tie-break as he prevailed 3-6 6-3 6-2 3-6 7-6 (7-5) on Wednesday.

The Italian's run to the last four follows an excellent Wimbledon campaign in which he reached the fourth round before losing to 20-time major champion Roger Federer.

Speaking in his post-match media conference, 24th seed Berrettini was asked to name the tournament he dreamed of winning as a child and replied: "I have to be honest -- I always said Wimbledon. There you feel something different, it's grass.

"This stadium [Arthur Ashe] is unbelievable. The feelings I had -- I was checking my heart beating during the match. I was, like, 'Oh, what's happening?' Then I said, 'Okay, it's normal. This is a football stadium. It's not like a tennis stadium'.

"I'm trying to keep going, and I'm dreaming, as well. Why not?"

While success in men's singles has been limited for Italian players, Berrettini has plenty of inspiration to draw from on the women's side of things.

Francesca Schiavone won the French Open in 2010 and Flavia Pennetta claimed an all-Italian US Open final with Roberta Vinci in 2015.

"I remember watching the finals here. I was in Italia playing a future in 2015. So four years ago," Berrettini added. 

"It was unbelievable, for them, for Italy. I remember President Giovanni Malago coming to watch the match.

"So for sure it was an inspiration. Francesca, as well. Sara [Errani]. They won -- I don't know. I forgot how many Fed Cups they won. For sure they showed us how to do it.

"I'm really looking forward to beating their records. Why not? I mean, I'm here. Actually Flavia texted me today. So she was really happy for me. She told me to keep going.

"It's good to have such good players behind you."

Bianca Andreescu recovered from a set down to defeat Elise Mertens 3-6 6-2 6-3 and extend her superb US Open run into the semi-finals.

Mertens had not dropped a set en route to the last eight and there were ominous signs for Andreescu when the Belgian 25th seed survived early pressure on her serve and went on to take the first set on Wednesday.

Andreescu – unbeaten since the French Open – progressed to the quarters with a frenetic three-set win over Taylor Townsend in front of a late night New York crowd.

There were considerably more fans inside Arthur Ashe Stadium for this encounter, but it still had the feel of a more low-key affair. Andreescu, 19, found a spark in the second set, though, and controlled the contest thereafter.

Mertens, a member of three-time US Open champion Kim Clijsters' academy, proved extremely resolute as Andreescu piled on the pressure.

She saved six break points in the decider but her resistance was finally shattered as Andreescu claimed a win in two hours, two minutes – booking her place in a first career grand slam semi-final, in which she will face Belinda Bencic.

Mertens staved off a pair of break points in the opening game of the match and was clinical when she received her first opportunity, converting it when Andreescu failed to properly connect with a backhand volley.

Andreescu was able to avoid going down a double break despite Mertens bringing up four more break points three games later, but she failed to find a way back into set, which her 23-year-old opponent served out to love.

Canadian Andreescu – winner of the Rogers Cup and Indian Wells this year – wasted an opportunity to impose her will on the second set as she gave an early break straight back with a backhand error.

However, she produced a magnificent sixth game to take command of the second, a backhand pass, a delicate drop shot and a rasping forehand winner giving her a 4-2 lead.

A crosscourt winner sealed the double break and forced a decider in which Mertens proved exceedingly obdurate.

It took until the eighth game for Andreescu to finally puncture Mertens' defences, a marvellous backhand return providing what proved the decisive breakthrough.

 

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN
Bianca Andreescu [15] bt Elise Mertens [25] 3-6 6-2 6-3

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Andreescu – 40/33
Mertens – 22/27

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Andreescu – 2/3
Mertens – 3/3

BREAK POINTS WON
Andreescu – 4/16
Mertens – 2/6

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Andreescu – 62
Mertens – 64

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Andreescu – 75/50
Mertens – 60/53

TOTAL POINTS
Andreescu – 86
Mertens – 75

Gael Monfils may have been knocked out of the US Open, but his 2019 experience at Flushing Meadows is not over.

The Frenchman missed out on his second semi-final in New York, losing a gruelling five-set battle with Matteo Berrettini that went nearly four hours.

For most players, Wednesday's defeat would be a blow from which they would take a long time to recover.

At 33, however, Monfils has a healthy sense of perspective, and expressed his excitement at being able to cheer on girlfriend Elina Svitolina in her semi-final clash with Serena Williams on Thursday.

"I'm not a sore loser. I gave it my all today. I served bad, but I gave my heart," Monfils told a post-match media conference.

"The crowd was amazing. They pushed me. They helped me. It was fun. It was exactly what I play for.

"I wish I could win, but I love those matches no matter what. You know, I'm proud of myself, and, you know, I will be happy, I will be happy to cheer for my girlfriend tomorrow.

"Definitely if it can be one more day here, I'm on it."

In terms of how he can refocus on the court for the remainder of the season after the 3-6 6-3 6-2 3-6 7-6 (7-5) defeat, Monfils believes he can draw on the experience of his 2014 quarter-final loss to Roger Federer at Flushing Meadows, when he had two match points against the Swiss legend.

"I've had tough ones in my career like that. Actually I have a tough one here in match point with Roger," he added.

"I know how to bounce back. Actually I played very good after that quarter that I lost in 2014 with Roger.

"I've got to take the positives of this almost two weeks and, you know, keep working hard and get back for the Asia swing."

Matteo Berrettini secured a place in his first grand slam semi-final as he came through a near four-hour epic to beat Gael Monfils 3-6 6-3 6-2 3-6 7-6 (7-5) at the US Open.

Tennis has regularly been compared to boxing, with Andy Murray among those to draw that particular parallel. In the world of the sweet science, they say styles make fights, and there could hardly have been a greater contrast of approaches on show at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Wednesday.

The world's biggest tennis stadium bore witness to a classic between Roger Federer and Grigor Dimitrov on Tuesday and another followed in short order as power puncher Berrettini outgunned Monfils, who, in typically flamboyant fashion, ducked and weaved his way to a fifth-set tie-break, saving four match points, only to fall short under the weight of the relentless blows coming from the Italian.

Berrettini – whose previous best performance at a grand slam came at Wimbledon when he reached the fourth round – will now face either 18-time major winner Rafael Nadal or Diego Schwartzman in the last eight.

Thoughts of a semi-final with Nadal must have been the furthest thing from Berrettini's mind when he dropped the first set in just over half an hour.

Monfils did not face a break point in the opener and appeared in control when he broke early in the second, only to hand the break back with an error-strewn service game that ended with a volley into the net.

Berrettini and Monfils then each saved three break points to hold serve before the latter then cracked under more pressure from Berrettini, who struck for a 5-3 lead and sealed the second with an ace.

He carried the momentum into the third and secured an early break and withstood pressure from Monfils, sending down a ferocious ace to earn a crucial hold in the sixth game.

The roof on Ashe was then closed as rain began to fall, but the stoppage did not hinder Berrettini, who claimed the double break as a forehand down the line left Monfils stranded.

Noise levels grew on the court and in the stands as Monfils scrapped to keep his hopes of a second US Open semi-final alive in the fourth, breaking for a 3-1 lead after Berrettini struck the net cord and set him up for a simple forehand.

Monfils only had to save one break point to keep his nose in front and send it to a decider, in which holding serve became an increasingly complicated task.

There were two breaks in the first three games of the fifth but Berrettini nudged ahead 4-2 when Monfils fell 0-40 down and then drifted long.

A double-fault on match point set the tone for a frantic conclusion, Monfils then ripping a wonderful crosscourt forehand and cupping his ear to the crowd as he hit back.

Berrettini produced a stunningly precise lob to help him set up the first of two further match points, but the 33-year-old's stamina and character got him through to the tie-break.

However, Berrettini built a 5-2 lead thanks in no small part to more double faults from Monfils, and the deficit proved too much to overcome as he went long on a return and the 23-year-old sank to the ground in celebration.

 

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN
Matteo Berrettini [24] bt Gael Monfils [13] 3-6 6-3 6-2 3-6 7-6 (7-5)

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Berrettini – 53/64
Monfils – 41/51

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Berrettini – 15/6
Monfils – 10/17

BREAK POINTS WON
Berrettini – 6/17
Monfils – 5/15

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Berrettini – 54
Monfils – 60

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Berrettini – 69/55
Monfils – 71/45

TOTAL POINTS
Berrettini – 165
Monfils – 159

Belinda Bencic is the last Swiss player standing in the singles competition at the US Open, a fact she is far from thrilled about.

Bencic progressed to her first grand slam semi-final on Wednesday with a straight-sets win over Donna Vekic.

She will next play Bianca Andreescu or Elise Mertens for a place in the final, carrying the flag for her country after Stan Wawrinka and Roger Federer each lost their quarter-finals in the men's singles.

"This is not a good thing. I'm not happy about this actually," Bencic told a media conference when asked about being the last remaining Swiss.

"I'm kind of surprised, like I think everyone is. It would be really nice if the boys could also make it to the semi-finals. But I'm happy I can kind of do it for them and don't let them down."

It has been an arduous journey for Bencic to get to this point. She was once ranked seventh in the world but dropped outside the top 300 in 2017 as injuries derailed her career.

Now poised to get back into the top 10, Bencic was asked if she envisioned being a grand slam semi-finalist when she was battling fitness problems.

"I was dreaming, of course, about this day coming, but you never know what's going to happen," she added. "You're not thinking about it. You're just right in the moment. Either you're practicing or focusing on your match.

"I worked hard for this. It's not like I never imagined I could do this. Still, I stayed in the moment. Yeah, [it's a] very nice feeling.

"The dream of every tennis player obviously is to win the biggest tournaments. I think for sure being number one in the world or winning a grand slam is always a dream. But I think it's still a long way to that. Of course, I think you can see it there.

"I think the work and staying in the moment is more important right now. Just taking it step by step, like I said all my career. I know it sounds boring. It's how you have to approach it.

"You cannot think too far ahead because I think that's just going to kind of make it more difficult or maybe add some pressure or something.

"I'm just trying to get a step closer to that every day. Today I am a step closer."

"I don't have a crystal ball, do you?"

Roger Federer was terse when asked if he felt he would have more opportunities to win grand slams like the one he just let slip at the US Open, with Novak Djokovic out of the draw and the Swiss having a clear path to a potential final with Rafael Nadal.

He is right, of course. He does not have a crystal ball and neither does anyone else. However, he certainly could have used one ahead of Tuesday's match with Grigor Dimitrov, as even the most confident of fortune tellers could not have envisaged what the Bulgarian produced at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Dimitrov stands as one of a growing number of once highly regarded ATP Tour players who have been unable to live up to their potential. So lofty was the opinion of Dimitrov's considerable talents, that he was once nicknamed 'Baby Fed'.

There have been considerable highs in Dimitrov's frenetic career that justified his reputation. His 2014 Wimbledon quarter-final win over then-defending champion Andy Murray was a supremely accomplished performance against an opponent playing with the vociferous backing of the home crowd.

His 2017 run to the Australian Open semi-finals was another strong hint at a breakthrough but it again appeared to be a false dawn, and there was nothing going into the last eight at Flushing Meadows to suggest he would be able to topple Federer.

Federer had won their previous seven meetings and had looked imperious in swatting Daniel Evans and David Goffin in the third and fourth rounds, while Dimitrov was playing in his first Tour-level quarter-final since January.

Even with Dimitrov having played extremely well to win the second set, there were few inside Ashe who expected it to be little more than a blip in the five-time champion's progression to the last four, with that assessment seemingly set to be vindicated when he took the third.

Yet, as Federer later said, this was "Grigor's moment", and he made sure of that in a tremendous fourth-set performance encompassing everything that had once led to him being considered the heir to Federer's throne.

There was power, variety, excellent movement and there were passing shots, oh so many passing shots, continually thundered beyond an ailing Federer off the forehand and backhand sides.

Federer insisted he was not surprised by Dimitrov's performance.

"It's the Grigor I expected. He has returned against me in the past also a little bit further back. He has been in, chipped, come over. He has the arsenal to do all sorts of things. He used it all tonight to great effect," said the 38-year-old.

That opinion is probably only shared by Dimitrov, as the sense of shock inside the world's biggest tennis stadium was palpable as the 28-year-old wore Federer down to the extent that he had to take a medical time-out for a back injury at the end of the fourth set.

Dimitrov displayed incredible character and endurance in doing so. Service games on both sides played out as mini-dramas within a fascinating thrill ride, with the Bulgarian's desire to make Federer play as many balls as possible paying dividends in the seventh game of the fourth. 

Federer held after a game that featured eight deuces and in which he had to save seven break points. Dimitrov may have been unable to get the double break, but he knew the damage had been done.

He said: "I think even when I lost that game, I was actually smiling going through the changeover because I was [thinking], 'That game must have hurt him a lot.' For me, it actually filled me up.

"After that fourth set, I felt also he kind of needed a little bit of a break, as well. I kept on pushing through. I think in the first game in the fifth, I put so many returns back, pretty much all the returns, so he had to go. He wanted to keep the points really short. I used every single opportunity I had."

That was the difference between the Dimitrov of old and the one that stunned a hugely pro-Federer crowd, perceptiveness and patience. He knew his opponent was struggling, he knew he did not have to swing for the fences. He did not have to go for the kill, because he knew the kill would come to him.

It came in rapid fashion in the fifth set as Dimitrov secured a 3-6 6-4 3-6 6-4 6-2 triumph that will go down as one of the biggest upsets in recent memory. It was a result virtually nobody expected from the world number 78 but, regardless of what he does from here in New York, Dimitrov's shock defeat of Federer will make sure nobody doubts his ability to deliver on the grand slam stage again.

Belinda Bencic reached her first grand slam semi-final with a 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 victory over Donna Vekic at the US Open on Thursday.

World number 12 Bencic has a slew of top-10 scalps to her name this year, beating Naomi Osaka for the third time in 2019 to reach this stage, but has repeatedly come unstuck against more modest opponents.

One such example was a Roland Garros reverse against Vekic but, despite a wobble in the first set, there was to be no repeat this time.

Bencic's reward is a last-four meeting with either Bianca Andreescu or Elise Mertens and the promise she will herself return to the top 10 when the rankings are updated next week.

Chances were at a premium in a tight and tense opening to the match, with the first set staying on serve without a single break point opportunity until the ninth game.

Bencic appeared to become distracted at 40-15 up and crumbled, a double-fault teeing up a break point that was capitalised on when the Swiss went long in the next rally.

Bencic responded in style by powering through Vekic's next service game, though, and forced her into the net to break back, although the number 13 seed was hugely frustrated not to edge the opener before a tiebreak.

The pair traded early mini-breaks but Bencic recovered some composure to take control and ease past her close friend, roaring with delight as the set was sealed.

Having let her frustrations boil over briefly, it was ultimately Bencic's calm that got her through as she held with confidence and preyed on some poor serving from Vekic to break at 4-3 in the second.

Vekic had been down match point in the previous round against Julia Goerges but another fightback never appeared likely and she failed to rescue another tough service game, going wide to hand Bencic a landmark victory.

 

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN
Belinda Bencic [13] bt Donna Vekic [23] 7-6 (7-5) 6-3

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Bencic - 20/21
Vekic - 28/28

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Bencic - 8/7
Vekic - 4/1

BREAK POINTS WON
Bencic - 3/8
Vekic - 1/1

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Bencic - 58
Vekic - 55

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Bencic - 84/52
Vekic - 72/43

TOTAL POINTS
Bencic - 78
Vekic - 65

Roger Federer does not have "the crystal ball" to see how many more chances he will have to add to his grand slam tally after missing a major opportunity at the US Open.

With Novak Djokovic having exited in the fourth round, Federer looked to have a clear path through to a potential blockbuster final with Rafael Nadal.

However, he fell victim to an incredible fightback from Grigor Dimitrov in Tuesday's quarter-final, the world number 78 coming from two sets to one down to prevail in three hours and 12 minutes.

The defeat was marked by a back problem that saw Federer leave the court for treatment in the fourth set.

He returned for the fifth but never looked capable of stopping Dimitrov from marching into his third slam semi-final.

Federer has demonstrated remarkable longevity to still be competing for majors at 38 years of age. However, he conceded he let a chance go begging at Flushing Meadows this year.

"I'm disappointed it's over because I did feel like I was actually playing really well after a couple of rocky starts," Federer told a media conference.

"It's just a missed opportunity to some extent that you're in the lead, you can get through, you have two days off after. It was looking good.

"But [I've] got to take the losses. They're part of the game. Looking forward to family time and all that stuff, so... Life's all right."

Asked if he will have more opportunities to win majors, he replied: "I don't have the crystal ball. Do you?

"I hope so, of course. I think still it's been a positive season. Disappointing now, but I'll get back up, I'll be all right."

After the rains of Labor Day at Flushing Meadows, Tuesday saw the heat turned up on and off the court on day nine of the US Open.

As the mercury rose to leave spectators either basking in the sun or seeking shade, there were some scorching displays in the quarter-finals of the men's and women's singles.

Serena Williams needed only 44 minutes to see off Wang Qiang and reach the last four, while Grigor Dimitrov and Roger Federer thrilled the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd with an epic that ended with the 20-time grand slam champion being knocked out by the man once known as 'Baby Fed'.

Omnisport's man on the ground, Nicholas McGee, provides the details in our daily diary from New York.

 

EVERYBODY'S FREE (TO WEAR SUNSCREEN)

Forgetting your sunscreen in the hot weather is a nightmare scenario everyone wants to avoid.

But it's not big deal if it slips the minds of spectators at Flushing Meadows, as the US Open have them covered.

Forgot yours? No matter. There's plenty of free bottles to go around to make sure you'll tan, not burn.

NOT MUCH EXCITEMENT FOR NAVARRO

Number one seed in the girls' singles, Emma Navarro lost her second-round match on Grandstand to Oksana Selekhmeteva of Russia.

As a New Yorker who reached the final of the French Open and the semi-finals of Wimbledon, a more passionate crowd might have been expected to watch the 18-year-old.

However, the heat was clearly too much for one fan, who spent the contest lounging in the shade under the big screen.

THE MAN OF A THOUSAND VOICES

Moe Szyslak, Chief Wiggum, Professor Frink, they all have one thing in common. They were all voiced by Hank Azaria.

The Simpsons star was inside Arthur Ashe Stadium to take in Daniil Medvedev's four-set win over Stan Wawrinka.

As an actor with such great range, Azaria must have been impressed with the variety Medvedev demonstrated en route to a place in the last four.

SVITOLINA GOES 360

Elina Svitolina reached the semi-finals on Tuesday by seeing off Johanna Konta.

Svitolina's partner Gael Monfils could progress to the same stage of the men's singles on Wednesday, when the Frenchman will take on Matteo Berrettini.

Monfils attracted significant attention earlier in the tournament with his 360 smash on match point against Marius Copil.

Svitolina was asked about the possibility of her attempting one and, judging by her answer, it is highly unlikely the Ukrainian will be trying it against Williams.

"I have been practicing, as well," Svitolina said. "Actually this morning I did it. Not as good, though. I turn and then I hit."

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