NEW YORK — So much for that Federer-Djokovic US Open quarterfinal on Wednesday night.
And forget about a potential Federer-Nadal final on Sunday, too.
Roger Federer, the No. 2 seed, and five-time US Open champ, was bounced out of the tournament at about 1 a.m. on Tuesday by Australian journeyman John Millman, 3-6, 7-5, 7-6, 7-6.
“I just thought it was very hot tonight,” Federer said. “[It] was just one of those nights where I guess I felt I couldn’t get air. There was no circulation at all. I don’t know, for some reason, I just struggled in the conditions tonight. It’s one of the first times it’s happened to me. But John was able to deal with it better. He maybe comes from one of the most humid places on earth, Brisbane. I knew I was in for a tough one. Maybe when you feel like that, you start missing chances, and I had those. That was disappointing.”
With Federer now gone from the tournament, No. 1 Rafael Nadal and No. 6 Novak Djokovic remain the favorites to meet in Sunday’s final.
They were the co-favorites to win the tournament before Federer was bounced, and they remain so as of Tuesday morning.
Nadal, the defending champ who has won the Open three times, is set to meet No. 9 Dominic Thiem in the quarterfinals on Tuesday night in Arthur Ashe Stadium. Nadal leads Thiem 7-3 all time, but this is their first meeting on a hardcourt.
In the other quarterfinal on that half, No. 3 Juan Martin del Potro, the 2009 champ, will face No. 11 John Isner, the last American man in the draw, on Tuesday afternoon.
On the bottom half of the draw, Djokovic will now face Millman in one quarterfinal, while No. 7 Marin Cilic will meet No. 21 Kei Nishikori in a rematch of the 2014 Open final won by Cilic.
That leaves four former US Open champs alive in Nadal, Djokovic, del Potro and Cilic.
Much history remains on the line.
Nadal has 17 Grand Slam singles titles, second all-time to Federer’s 20, while Djokovic has 13, one behind Pete Sampras’ 14.
After his win over Portugal’s Joao Sousa on Monday, Djokovic was asked a slew of questions about a potential matchup with Federer, which now, of course, will not happen. But he did put his place in the “Big Three” of Federer, Nadal and himself in perspective.
“Matches against Nadal and Federer, and [Andy] Murray as well, have made me the player I am today because those were the guys that I always wanted to win against because those were the guys I had to beat in order to be the No. 1, to win slams, and have the career that I had behind me,” Djokovic said. “At the beginning of the career, I probably wasn’t seeing things that I’m seeing now in terms of being in an era with these guys. Now I’m grateful that I was, that I still am, in the era with these guys, that I get a chance to witness their greatness as well, their rivalry, Nadal and Federer, which is the biggest rivalry, one of the biggest, of all time, and at the same time to be competing against them on such a big stage every year for a long time.”
Federer and Nadal have met at every Grand Slam except the US Open, and it won’t happen this year, either. But Nadal and Djokovic remain on track to play for the 53rd time in Sunday’s final. They have played 52 times — a record between two players — with Djokovic leading 27-25.
"I really feel like [the Federer-Nadal] rivalry is really special because of the contrast of styles, just what they brought," Djokovic said. "I feel my rivalry, with Nadal especially, is quite amazing, as well. We played most matches against each other than any other two tennis players ever in the game, which is amazing."