Sneakers were squeaking as Stan Wawrinka stutter stepped behind the baseline then bounced up and down on his toes.
All that activity occurred while Wawrinka waited for Kevin Anderson to return from a bathroom break.
Even when the ball wasn’t in play, Wawrinka looked like a man going places.
The reigning Roland Garros champion reeled off eight straight games to close a commanding 6-4, 6-4, 6-0 sweep of the depleted South African and roar into his second US Open semifinal in the last three years.
Wawrinka will play good friend and sometime doubles partner Roger Federer in Friday’s all-Swiss semifinals.
“It’s special when we play,” Wawrinka told ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi in his in-court interview. “It’s always something special. He’s the best player. He’s playing so good. He’s trying to invent some shots in tennis so it’s gonna be really tough. I know people love him here so hopefully I will steal some support.”
Five-time US Open champion Federer continued his career-long dominance of Richard Gasquet, dismissing the Frenchman, 6-3, 6-3, 6-1.
It will be the 20th meeting between the pair, who let Switzerland to its first Davis Cup championship last fall. Federer has won 16 of their 19 clashes, but Wawrinka won their last encounter, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (4) in the Roland Garros quarterfinals in June.
“I think Stan played a wonderful match against me in Paris. I was happy he went on and won the tournament—he deserved it,” Federer told ESPN’s Darren Cahill afterward. “I couldn’t be happier to play him here, to be honest. Two Swiss in the semifinals of the US Open is very cool. I’m looking forward to it.”
Informed that his buddy emulated his kamikaze SABR return from the service line in his win tonight, Federer joked: “We’ll do only that the whole match—the longest rally will be like three shots.”
Contesting his first career Grand Slam quarterfinal, the 6-foot-8 Anderson had won four in a row against Wawrinka. Back on Armstrong Court where he toppled 2012 US Open champion Andy Murray in a grueling four hour, 18-minute epic—the longest match of the tournament—Anderson lacked the life in his legs and sting on his serve to trouble Wawrinka, who was playing his sixth straight Grand Slam quarterfinal.
Bidding to become the first South African to reach the Flushing Meadows final four since Johan Kriek in 1980, Anderson saved a break point in the fifth game, but hit a forehand long as Wawrinka earned the first break for 4-3. Blasting a backhand pass crosscourt to deny a break point, Wawrinka backed up the break for 5-3.
Banging a serve into the big man’s hip, Wawrinka sealed the first set in 40 minutes. Masterfully mixing his slower slice backhand with flatter blasts down the line to spread the court, Wawrinka often forced the bigger man to defend on critical points.
A double fault and flat forehand into the middle of the net gave Wawrinka double break point. Anderson tried to surprise the Swiss playing serve-and-volley.
Wawrinka was not fazed. Bending low he laced a bullet backhand pass down the line breaking for 5-4. On set point, Wawrinka serve-and-volleyed beautifully, angling off a slick backhand volley to seize a two-set lead after just 82 minutes of play.
Despite serving just 38 percent, Wawrinka roared through the second set winning all 10 points played on his first serve.
Anderson embarked on a bathroom break trying to recuperate from his deficit and revive his game, but returned to face Wawrinka bouncing up and down eagerly and a sustained dose of third-set misery. Wawrinka broke to start the third set. A lethargic Anderson coughed up his ninth double fault as Wawrinka scored his second straight break. The sturdy Swiss won 16 of the first 19 points of the set, running down a drop shot and flicking a forehand pass for a commanding 4-0 advantage.
On match point, Wawrinka finished with a flourish knocking off a backhand volley winner to seal his after one hour, 48 minutes. The match, originally scheduled for Arthur Ashe Stadium, was moved to the more intimate Louis Armstrong Stadium. Wawrinka rewarded fans who stayed by signing his towels and tossing them into the crowd.
“Actually, I’m happy that we moved the court because I love that court,” Wawrinka said of Armstrong. “Since many years I had some crazy five-set matches on that court. For sure, we didn’t want the rain but when they told us they were gonna move from Ashe it was fine… I’m really happpy with with my game. Hopefully I can still play some amazing tennis in the next one.”