For top-seed Novak Djokovic, the road to the U.S. Open men's semifinal has been paved with a seamless efficiency aided by the fact that he hadn't faced a seeded opponent through his first four matches.
That near perfection wavered only slightly in last night's quarterfinal as Djokovic dismissed No. 21 Mikhail Youzhny, the 31-year-old Russian who twice has been an Open semifinalist, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-0.
The third set was the first Djokovic has lost in the tournament, after sailing through 14 previous sets.
Last night's victory positions Djokovic, the 2011 Open champ, for tomorrow's semifinal against Stanislas Wawrinka, the upset winner over defending champion Andy Murray. No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal, who won the Open in 2010, will play No. 8 Richard Gasquet of France in the other semi.
Djokovic now is 14-1 in career night matches at the Open and appears in peak form. "It's a great joy, you know," he said. "It's a fantastic feeling when you're playing this well. You love spending time on the court and experiencing such a great zone where you are at the moment."