Federer and Nadal charging towards each other in New York
The two greats are rapidly closing in on a glamour floodlit quarter-final - but first they have to dispose of their fourth-round opponents
Roger Federer is eager to rekindle his rivalry with Rafael Nadal for the first time at the US Open in what would be a blockbuster clash at night, when he has been virtually unbeatable.
The 17-time major winner could face Nadal in the quarter-finals with the dream match-up almost certain to take place under the lights of Arthur Ashe Stadium, where Federer has won 22 of 23 matches.
His only loss in the traditionally raucous evening sessions came at the hands of Juan Martin Del Potro in the 2009 final.
"I understand the urge of the press to try to go there already, which is entirely normal," said Federer, keen not to get too carried away as he still has to get past Tommy Robredo in the fourth round before a potential quarter-final match-up with Nadal.
"I have gone through that my entire career, people talking about our matches even before the tournament started.
"We're used to it. We know how to handle it. Clearly I think we both hope it's going to happen this time for the first time in New York."
Five-time champion Federer clinched another night victory in New York with a comfortable 6-3, 6-0, 6-2 win over French world number 63 Adrian Mannarino.
Nadal, the 2010 champion, had earlier cruised past Croatia's Ivan Dodig, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3, to set up a last-16 clash with Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber.
Federer said he revels in the party atmosphere of night-time New York in the sport's biggest arena. "I have played I think 20-plus matches under the lights here and other tournaments as well around the world for years," he said.
"It's something I'm used to. But in this stadium with this crowd it's always very particular, clearly, because it is the biggest stadium in the world, it is New York City, and you don't ever know how many times more you're going to play on this court. You always want to enjoy it."
Federer said he was ready for another tough encounter with 31-year-old Robredo despite his perfect 10-0 record in meetings with the Spaniard, who has now made the fourth round for the eighth time.
"I think he's a very good player. Mentally and physically really tough. I think he showed that in Paris this year. He won three five-setters in a row," said Federer.
"He's done very well for many, many years until he got some injuries. He's also a player I've known since a long time. He came through the juniors with me.
"I know his game well. He knows mine really well. He's got a great forehand, so I have to be wary of that always against him."
Nadal has not lost serve once in three one-sided victories but feels his service game needs improving. He may appear to be nitpicking given that his battering of Dodig extended his 2013 hard court record to 18-0. But the 27-year-old Spaniard knows what it takes to win grand slams.
"I didn't feel that I was serving great," said 12-times major winner Nadal, the 2010 US Open champion. "I served OK, not bad.
"In important moments I did a few good serves, but I am winning because I am playing well from the baseline and I am making the right decisions in the right moments."
Nadal has yet to have his service broken, but he feels that statistic might be deceiving.
He completed a career grand slam by winning the 2010 championship armed with a booming serve that hit speeds over 130 miles an hour (209 kph), but the power has not been turned on for his first deliveries this week.
While he faced only two break points against Dodig, Nadal had his fastest serve clocked at 123 mph (198 kph), with his average first serve speed 108 (174 kph).
"It's working, but I am not serving at 130 miles every time," said Nadal, who instead is relying on placement and consistency to gain an upper hand on his service points. "It's working because I am playing well from the baseline. It's working because I am serving with the right percentage. We'll see if I am able to keep working."
Elsewhere in the fourth round in Nadal and Federer's half of the draw, it's Richard Gasquet against Milos Raonic and Janko Tipsarevic against David Ferrer.