However shocking No. 1 Novak Djokovic's fall in the first U.S. Open men's semifinal was Saturday, the subsequent straight-sets exit of five-time Open champ Roger Federer clearly was the bigger loss of star power.
An erratic Federer was overpowered by 14th-seeded Marin Cilic, the 25-year-old Croatian, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. That means that for the fifth consecutive year, Federer -- whose 17 major titles are the most by any man -- will not play in the Open final.
"Losing is not so much fun," Federer said. "I'm an athlete. I want to win. But grass can grow over this. It's very simple. I think Marin played great. I'm happy for him. There was no holding back from his side, and I just couldn't hang with him long enough to creep some doubts into his mind."
At 33, Federer had felt revived this summer after his runner-up finish to Djokovic at Wimbledon and a strong hardcourt season. But he needed a minor meltdown by Frenchman Gael Monfils just to survive his five-set quarterfinal and never got his teeth into Saturday's semifinal.
From the outset, the big-hitting Cilic -- previously 0-5 in career meetings with Federer -- blunted Federer's ability to rush the net or control the angles. Federer was a little too late, a little too vulnerable to passing shots, and ultimately a little too gone from the scene.
The first of Cilic's four service breaks came in the match's fourth game, another to start the second set, another immediately after Federer had broken for a 2-0 lead in the third. Each left Federer seriously scrambling.
Now, with Cilic to meet Djokovic's conqueror, Kei Nishikori, for the title, this will guarantee the first time since 1998 that four different men and four different women will win a major tournament in the same year.
In '98, the female Slams champs were Martina Hingis, Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, Hana Novotna and Lindsay Davenport. The male winners were Petr Korda, Carlos Moya, Pete Sampras and Patrick Rafter.
None of the 2014 Open finalists -- Serena Williams, Caroline Wozniacki, Nishikori and Cilic -- has won a major this year. Only Williams, with 17 titles, has ever won a major.
"Just amazing day for me," Cilic said. "To be able to play like this, I never dreamed of. I think this was my best performance in my career. It's going to be a sensational day for both . I'm just going to enjoy, be happy and try to win."