Roger Federer is just 2-1 against Gael Monfils in their last three meetings. And if the Swiss legend never has to play the long, swift, powerful Frenchman again that’ll be just fine with him. Federer dropped the first two sets against Monfils last night in the US Open quarterfinals before rallying to win 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-2. Only in the last set did Federer look like a No. 2 seed destined for a finals showdown with No. 1 Novak Djokovic. For the three hours plus, he looked more like the Federer we sometimes saw in 2012-13–a player people thought was entering the dim twilight of his beautiful career–error prone and without his magic. (He had 44 unforced errors in the match, 26 in the first two sets.)
But the new rejuvenated Federer stopped time and Monfils’ momentum with a strong third set. He battled gallantly in the fourth set, taking away two match points from Monfils. The deflated Monfils couldn’t compete at the same level afterwards. About the way Federer mixed up his game to beat him as the night wore on, Monfils said: “That’s why he’s the greatest player, because he can do everything.” Federer faces 16th -seeded Marin Cilic in the semifinals on Saturday.