New York: Rafael Nadal did his part, and then it was up to Roger Federer. Nadal powered into the U.S. Open semifinals and kept alive the possibility for a matchup with his longtime rival, overwhelming Russian teenager Andrey Rublev 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 on Wednesday.
The top-seeded Nadal wrapped up the rout in just over 90 minutes, then waited to see if he would finally face Federer in the only Grand Slam tournament where they have never met.
Federer was to play No. 24 seed Juan Martin del Potro later Wednesday in a matchup of former champions. This is the sixth time at the U.S. Open that Nadal and Federer have each been one victory away from a matchup of the men who own the most Grand Slam titles.
"If it's Roger Federer, of course I am excited to play that match, and of course it's special to play against him here in New York for the first time in our career," Nadal said. "That's something that didn't happen before and is something strange, because we played a couple of times in all the important events of the world, so will be excited and I will be very excited to play that match, of course."
He looked ready for Federer or anyone else, breaking the 19-year-old Rublev's serve seven times. Though Federer beat Nadal in the Australian Open final and has won all three meetings this year, Nadal's coach, Carlos Moya, said he would look forward to the match.
"I think it's the best match that you can have - as a tennis fan, as a spectator," Moya said. "And I believe Rafa is going to be ready if that match has to happen."
Rublev was the youngest U.S. Open quarterfinalist since Andy Roddick was also 19 in 2001 but he didn't give himself much chance, committing 43 unforced errors and seven double faults.
"This match told me how far I am and how much I need to improve, so now is time to try to be better and become stronger," Rublev said.
Earlier, CoCo Vandeweghe made it three Americans into the U.S. Open women's semifinals, beating top-seeded Karolina Pliskova 7-6 (4), 6-3. The 20th-seeded Vandeweghe matched her best result in a Grand Slam tournament, having also reached the semifinals of the Australian Open in January before falling to Venus Williams.
Williams is also into the semifinals in Flushing Meadows along with Sloane Stephens, and No. 15 Madison Keys had a chance to make it an all-American final four if she beats 418th-ranked qualifier Kaia Kanepi in a night match.
The Americans haven't had all four semifinalists at the U.S. Open since 1981, when Tracy Austin beat Martina Navratilova for the title. Chris Evert and Barbara Potter also made the semifinals.
Vandeweghe echoed Williams' comments from after her quarterfinal victory, thinking back to the last generation of American women that, along with Venus and Serena Williams, included Lindsay Davenport and Jennifer Capriati.
"I think that still holds of, you know, we wanted to be those same players in a later generation or be those," Vandeweghe said. "Now that we're older, we can put that into words, but we all wanted to be there."
Pliskova, who lost to Angelique Kerber in the 2016 final, needed to get back to the final to remain atop the WTA rankings. She will be replaced on Monday by Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza, who lost in the fourth round.
"I think I had quite high expectations, and obviously I knew I had quite an OK draw, so there was nobody, like, unbeatable for me," Pliskova said. "Even this match today was not without chance, so maybe I put too much expectation on myself."
The Czech had been starting slowly during the tournament, dropping the first set in the second and third round before overwhelming unseeded American Jennifer Brady in 46 minutes on Monday.
But she couldn't mount any sort of comeback against Vandeweghe, who comes from a decorated athletic family and is finally making a name of her own this year. Nine years after winning the U.S. Open junior title, she finally got past a major quarterfinal in Australia, then needed only eight months to do it again.
Her grandfather, Ernie, and uncle, Kiki, both played in the NBA, and her mother, Tauna, represented the U.S. in both swimming and volleyball at the Olympics. CoCo dropped to her knees and looked upward after match point, saying afterward she was thinking of her family.
"I think what really was going through my mind in that moment was I'm a big believer that my grandparents are still with me," she said. "It was more just looking up and feeling the love of everything that was going on."