‘Always a pleasure to play the greatest’

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Roger Federer and Juan Martin del Potro have only played once since 2013 with the Swiss winning in Miami earlier this year
US Open
Venue: Flushing Meadows, New York Dates: 28 Aug-10 Sept
BBC coverage: Live radio and text commentary on selected matches every day.

Roger Federer will take on Juan Martin del Potro in the US Open last eight on day 10 – 48 hours after the Argentine’s incredible fourth-round victory.

The 24th seed came back from two sets down to beat Austrian sixth seed Dominic Thiem in five thrilling sets.

He will face third seed Federer in a rematch of the 2009 final, won by Del Potro, at about 02:00 BST on Thursday.

Rafael Nadal, Karolina Pliskova and Madison Keys also feature in the quarter-finals.

‘It’s always a pleasure to play the greatest’

A forecast of heavy rain throughout the day promoted organisers to dramatically cut the schedule, leaving just the four singles quarter-finals on Arthur Ashe Stadium, which has a roof, and a possible three doubles matches on the Grandstand court, which is uncovered.

Del Potro, 28, will be hoping that massage and a day’s rest will be enough to restore his energy in time to face an increasingly in-form Federer.

The Argentine said “we cannot do magic” after battling through illness to beat Thiem in an extraordinary quarter-final, adding: “I will see how physically I feel after this battle.”

It is eight years since Del Potro stunned then five-time defending champion Federer in the final at Flushing Meadows to win his only major title to date.

“It’s always a pleasure to play the greatest guy in history,” Del Potro said of the rematch.

“I admire him, too. Everybody loves him. It’s going to be an interesting match to play.”

Federer, 36, came into the tournament with a back injury and needed five sets to win his first two matches, but has looked ruthless in his last two.

Revenge is not on his mind against the universally liked Del Potro, but Federer’s defeat by the Argentine in 2009 was one of the more difficult to take.

“I felt like I left that match with a lot of regrets,” said the Swiss. “Probably feels like one of those matches I would like to play over again.

“I mean, look, I was not too disappointed I don’t think because I had a great run, winning I think French, Wimbledon, birth of my girls. Making the finals here was actually a good run.

“But it ended my five-year reign here in New York.”

Juan Martin del Potro beat Roger Federer in five sets to win the 2009 US Open

Like Federer, Nadal has worked his way into form over the course of four matches in New York.

His next challenge is a new one in the shape of 19-year-old Andrey Rublev, the world number 53 and a rising star who was outside the world’s top 100 as recently as June.

The prospect of a first New York meeting with Federer should they both win is not about to distract Nadal.

“Now I have Rublev in front. Maximum respect for him and going to be a tough one,” said the 15-time Grand Slam champion.

“He played already great matches, winning against [Grigor] Dimitrov, against [David] Goffin in straight sets. It’s not a moment to talk about Federer for me.”

‘I would not put me and her together’

Coco Vandeweghe reached the Australian Open semi-finals in January

Czech top seed Pliskova must beat American 20th seed Coco Vandeweghe in the opening match on Arthur Ashe Stadium at 17:00 if she is to have a chance of retaining her number one ranking.

Vandeweghe, coached by former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash, has already reached the Australian Open semi-finals and Wimbledon quarter-finals this year with a similarly powerful game to Pliskova.

“I would not really put me and her together,” said the Czech. “Like not even personally.

“We both have the plan to play aggressive, but I think she’s a little bit – not messy sometimes, but she’s just going for her shots.

“Even if she just misses like five metres out, she doesn’t care, so it’s different. It’s not my game style.”

Vandeweghe responded: “I think my tennis is a little bit more complex than hers, than as simply as she put it, but I don’t know.”

Fellow American Keys, seeded 15th, takes on Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi, the first qualifier to reach the last eight since 1981 and ranked a lowly 481 after injury problems.

“I hoped to qualify and keep going, see what happens with my tennis,” said Kanepi, who has played just 27 matches in two years.

“Yeah, it’s pretty amazing where I am now compared to where I was few months ago.”

The pair will open the day nine night session on Arthur Ashe Stadium at 00:00 on Thursday.

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