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Nadal, Federer through to U.S. Open semifinals

Nadal is aiming to reach the U.S. Open final for the first time.
Nadal is aiming to reach the U.S. Open final for the first time.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Nadal beats Fernando Verdasco to reach U.S. Open semifinals
  • Federer beats Soderling in quarterfinal; will face Djokovic in last four
  • Federer has yet to drop a set in this year's U.S. Open in New York
  • Federer remains on course for record-breaking sixth U.S. Open crown
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(CNN) -- Top seed Rafael Nadal made short work of fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco on Thursday to advance to the semifinals of the U.S. Open with a 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 win.

Mikhail Youzhny now stands between Nadal and his first final at Flushing Meadows after the Russian edged out Stanislas Wawrinka in five sets, 3-6, 7-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.

Five-times winner Roger Federer will face Novak Djokovic of Serbia in the other semifinals after the Swiss second seed battled high winds to beat fifth seed Robin Soderling in a repeat of their 2009 quarterfinal 6-4, 6-4, 7-5.

Nadal started slowly on a cold and windy evening in New York and dropped his serve for the first time in the tournament early in the first set. But he finished the match with just 16 unforced errors to complete a routine victory over eighth seed Verdasco.

"It's great news for me, especially this year without losing a set," Nadal said. "Today I played, for the conditions, I think I played a great match against very difficult opponent like Fernando.

"So for me, to be in semifinals is amazing. But I have to keep going and keep playing better if I really want to have a chance to be in the final."

Federer's victory reaffirmed his dominance in the tournament; the five-time champion has not dropped a set in New York, and remains on course for a record-breaking sixth U.S. Open crown.

Federer beat world number three Djokovic in the 2007 final at Flushing Meadows and in the semifinals the past two years.

"Here we go again," Federer said in comments carried by AFP. "He has been playing great. He's hungry to make a breakthrough. It's going to be a tough match."

Home hopes distant ahead of U.S. Open

Soderling's only victory over Federer came in the French Open quarterfinals this year, ending the Swiss champion's run of 23 consecutive grand slam semifinals.

Federer saved three break points in the second game of the match and another in the sixth before snatching the set by converting his first break point.

The Swiss broke again in the fifth game of the second before closing out for a 2-0 lead.

Soderling broke in the eighth game of the third and served for the set, but Federer came roaring back with four straight games to surge into the last four.

"I just feel happy that I played a good match under tough circumstances against a player who's really hard to beat these days, especially on the hard courts," Federer told the U.S. Open website.

"It really favors his game, and he's had a wonderful run the last couple of years. For me, this is obviously a big victory."

Djokovic earlier thrashed Gael Monfils in the quarterfinals amid high winds 7-6 (2), 6-1, 6-2.

Rock'n'Roll tennis in the Big Apple

The Serb came from a break behind to take the opener on a tie-break before running away with the second and third sets against the 17th seed from France.

"Maybe the wind helped me a little bit more because it neutralized his serve," the U.S. Open's Web site quoted Djokovic as saying.

Monfils, meanwhile, was playing in his third grand slam quarterfinal after becoming the first Frenchman into the last eight at this event since Arnaud Clement in 2000.