Show of strength from Djokovic
Tennis: Novak Djokovic highlighted why he is the man to beat at the US Open with a stunning straight-sets victory over Juan Martin Del Potro in the quarter-finals.
The 6-2 7-6 (7/3) 6-4 scoreline does not remotely tell the story of a quarter-final encounter where 2009 champion Del Potro threw everything at last year's winner only to see it come back with interest.
Djokovic will now play fourth seed David Ferrer, who beat Janko Tipsarevic in another classic earlier on Thursday, in a rematch of a last-four clash from 2007.
Djokovic lost to Roger Federer in the final that year but, with the world No.1 knocked out by Tomas Berdych on Thursday, the second seed has assumed the favourite's mantle.
"Even though it was straight sets it was much closer than that. He's a great player. I was lucky in the second set," Djokovic said. "We played some incredible points. It's always entertaining to play at night, so much fun. This is very special and I'm really happy to be in the semi-finals."
So easy had the Serbian's progress been until this point, it was difficult to tell how well he was playing.
Djokovic had seemed out of sorts at Wimbledon and the Olympics, where Del Potro beat him to the bronze medal, but he showed on Arthur Ashe Stadium he is back to the form that brought him three grand slam titles last season.
The second set was undoubtedly the best of the tournament as Del Potro found his rhythm on his huge groundstrokes but still could not break down Djokovic's legendary defences.
The second seed went an early break down but broke back when Del Potro served for the set and then created three set points in a titanic 12th game that lasted more than 17 minutes.
The Argentinian saved those but could not resist the sheer force of Djokovic in the tie-break, and a break at the start of the decider eventually proved the difference.
Djokovic has now reached 10 straight grand slam semi-finals, and Del Potro admitted the better man won.
He said: "I had to win that second set. Nole [Djokovic] played really well in the most important moments. In the tie-break he was a little lucky on some points. But he deserved it, he played much better than me for the rest of the match. He was too much for me.
"He's playing better and better every match, he's the favourite to win. He played at a very high level for the whole three hours and I wish him the best."