As the losses piled up and the titles escaped him, Roger Federer insisted he felt fine, he wasn't washed up and his game would come around.
Oh, did Federer look good against Novak Djokovic in the U.S. Open semifinals.
Buoyed by a stellar start and a fantastic finish, carried all the while by strong serving, Federer beat Djokovic 6-3, 5-7, 7-5, 6-2 to move one victory from a fifth consecutive U.S. Open championship and 13th Grand Slam title overall.
"One more match is all I need," Federer said in an on-court interview.
Click here for photos.
It was his 33rd straight win at Flushing Meadows and put him in his 13th final in the past 14 major tournaments.
The one gap in that span was the Australian Open in January, when Djokovic upset Federer in the semifinals en route to the title. Perhaps that gave Federer extra motivation Saturday, and he dominated the start and the last 1 1/2 sets.
Federer, who finished with 20 aces and only one double-fault despite a swirling wind, will meet No. 1 Rafael Nadal or No. 6 Andy Murray in the title match.
Federer was asked whom he'd rather face. A reasonable question, given that Nadal routed him in the French Open final, edged him 9-7 in the fifth set of the Wimbledon final, and supplanted him atop the rankings last month after Federer's record 237-week stay at No. 1.
"Who do I prefer? I prefer the trophy, that's what I prefer," Federer said, drawing a roar of approval from the fans in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
And then came an answer that might surprise some.
"I guess I've got to say Rafa," Federer continued, "because we've had such great battles over the years. Wimbledon was unbelievable, so I hope we can do it again here."
He wasn't going to know until Sunday at the earliest who would be his next opponent. Tropical Storm Hanna hit the New York area in the afternoon, dumping enough rain to force the suspension of the semifinal between No. 1 Rafael Nadal and No. 6 Andy Murray in the third set.
The weather also forced the postponement of the women's championship match between Serena Williams and Jelena Jankovic, originally scheduled for Saturday night. Instead, that will be played Sunday.