Novak Djokovic believes that the man who lifts the US Open trophy on Sunday will have truly earned the mantle of champion, describing the hot and steamy 2018 tournament as the "toughest" he has encountered.
Djokovic has now won all 11 of his quarterfinal matches in NY.
The last eight at the year's final Grand Slam will also feature a rematch of the 2014 final between former champion Marin Cilic and Kei Nishikori of Japan plus 2017 finalist Madison Keys against Spanish 30th seed Carla Suarez Navarro.
The No. 21 seed continued his strong season after returning from a wrist injury that forced him to miss the U.S. Open previous year and will play No. 6 seed Novak Djokovic on Friday.
Japan's Nishikori, who missed last year's US Open after a season-ending wrist injury, joined compatriot Naomi Osaka in reaching the semis - the first time that a Japanese man and woman have reached the last four in the same grand slam. Just trying to hang in there, find a way to win a match.
The popular Queenslander said he copped online abuse after his first-round loss to Taro Daniel at Winstom Salem the week before the US Open.
The Wimbledon champion has struggled in the unusually extreme conditions in NY this year and was again in discomfort during a 6-3 6-4 6-4 victory over Australian John Millman that lasted almost three hours. On two occasions, Millman raced back from the net to deep behind the baseline to make retrievals that shocked Djokovic, who blew the point both times.
The Millman magic finally ran out late in the second set Wednesday with both players on serve.
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A forehand error from Djokovic let Millman level at 3-3, but the sixth seed carved out three break-points in the next game, converting the third before serving out the match and sealing the win with a backhand volley in 2hr 48 min.
"I hope people were watching us", said Nishikori.
"It's great to see, " said Nishikori, who is into his third major semifinal - all in NY - but is still in search of his first Grand Slam trophy.
Djokovic was an nearly unbackable favourite against the Queenslander despite his heroics the previous round against Roger Federer - with a Millman victory paying anywhere between $9 and $14. He said he had never sweated as much and echoed Federer's comments about a lack of air in the stadium, saying it was a problem the tournament needed to address.
But Millman also asked Djokovic for his blessing before leaving the court while apologizing, and the No. 6 seed comically replied: "I'm fine to have a little rest". "I could use the break, " Djokovic told Millman.
"It's just we have seen it all tournament long - the girls and the guys out there, just sweating a lot".
Keys won all 10 of her service games, saving the only two break points she faced. After missing several open shots, Djokovic doubled over and staggered around the court as his camp - coaches, trainer, and wife Jelena - looked on worriedly.
"I try to fight every point", said Nishikori, who boasts an impressive record in decisive sets.