World number one Rafael Nadal dismissed Dusan Lajovic 7-6 (6) 6-2 6-2 to ease into the U.S. Open second round on Tuesday.
It was a victory which set the Spaniard on a collision course for a long overdue Flushing Meadows showdown with Roger Federer.
While the year’s final grand slam is just underway, many tennis fans have circled Sept. 8 as a day to await.
That is when, if all goes to form, Nadal and Federer would meet to decide a place in the final.
It is one of the great rivalries in sport.
Federer, a five-times U.S. Open winner, and twice champion Nadal have clashed 37 times over the years but never have they stood across the net on Flushing Meadows’ hard courts.
On the French Open clay, Wimbledon’s manicured lawns and in the Australian heat, the elegant Swiss maestro and muscular Spaniard have played for many titles.
But while no trophy would be on the line when they meet, a New York meeting would still have the Big Apple buzzing.
Federer will follow Nadal on to Arthur Ashe Stadium later on Tuesday looking to hold up his end when he takes on American Frances Tiafoe.
On Tuesday, Nadal only needed only a few games to find his range against the 85th-ranked Serb, after a sluggish run-up to the U.S. Open.
This had included a shock round of 16 loss to Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov in Montreal and another to Australian Nick Kyrgios in the Cincinnati quarter-finals.
The 21-year-old, chasing a first U.S. Open win, showed no sign of nerves, using his stylish groundstrokes to grab the early break on the way to 4-2 lead.
The four games are as many as he won in his only other meeting with Nadal, a round of 16 loss at the 2014 French Open.
But a steely Nadal found his comfort zone, breaking back at 5-5 to force the opener to a tiebreak that he took 8-6.
A ruthless Nadal delivered the young Serb another tennis lesson, breaking his opponent at the first opportunity in both the second and third sets.
The win helped to improve his record in first round U.S. Open matches to 13-0.(Reuters/NAN)