Novak Djokovic and Andy Roddick put in a show-stopping performance at the US Open on Thursday night but only the fired up Serbian was left standing to take an encore -- albeit from a hostile Flushing Meadows crowd.
The world number three outgunned American Roddick 6-2, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 in a high-quality shootout to set up a tantalising semi-final with four-times champion Roger Federer but then felt the wrath of the crowd when he let his emotions spill over in a courtside interview.
Annoyed by Roddick's suggestions that he might have been exaggerating hip, ankle, stomach and breathing problems during his five-set win in the previous round, Djokovic told the fans: "Andy was saying that I have 16 injuries in the last match so obviously I don't, right?
"That's not nice anyhow to say in front of this crowd that I have 16 injuries and I am faking it.
"With the sellout crowd packed around the Arthur Ashe Stadium booing loudly, the Serb continued his outburst: "Like it or not, it's like that. They [the crowd] are already against me because they think I am faking everything, so sorry."
"I am really happy playing against Roddick on his court and in his city in his favourite tournament so to win against him is a huge effort."
Roddick felt Djokovic had over-reacted to something that had been a joke.
"It was completely meant in jest," said the 2003 champion.
"I'm sorry he took it that way. I don't think I was over the line. It wasn't my intention and I'm sorry he felt that way. Maybe I did him a favour tonight."
After turning into public enemy number one, Djokovic will probably need a tight security escort when he turns up on Saturday for his last-four date with New York's adopted son Federer.
The Swiss spared himself a repeat of his "dogfight" five-set win over Russian Igor Andreev in the last 16 but his 7-6, 6-4, 7-6 win over 130th-ranked Luxembourg qualifier Gilles Muller was not exactly the kind of performance one would have expected from a man who extended his unbeaten run at Flushing Meadows to 32 matches.
Champion's performance or not, Federer hung in for two hours and 26 minutes to advance to a record 18th successive Grand Slam semi-final.
"I'm happy to keep the semi-final streak alive. That's a huge streak for such a long time," said the second seed, who was deposed as world number one two weeks ago by French Open and Wimbledon winner Rafael Nadal.
"I hope this time around I can take it a step further than I did in Paris or Wimbledon," added the Swiss, who is aiming to become the first man since 1924 to win five in a row here.
Nadal will take on Briton Andy Murray in the other semi-final.
Federer's win would also have done Muller, the lowest ranked man to reach the last eight since 1999, a favour as the 25-year-old had outstayed his welcome in his New York hotel.
"When I came here, I didn't expect to be here until the second Thursday... [so] I had to switch [accommodation] last night," said Muller, adding his original hotel could not extend his reservation.
Texas-resident Roddick would also have liked to have extended his stay in New York but instead ran into an opponent who had a personal score to settle.
In a year when organisers have been promoting their night-time programme under the banner "It's Showtime," Roddick entered the Arthur Ashe Stadium suitably dressed in an all-black outfit.
But it took just 62 blistering minutes for Djokovic to put the American in the shade as he romped through the first two sets by dropping only 13 points on serve.
As Djokovic out-served, out-ran and outwitted Roddick, the 26-year-old reacted by turning his racket into a mangled mess.
Just when it seemed as if Roddick would be in for a quick mauling, he came alive to break in the fourth game of the third and fired down four untouchable missiles to wrap up the set.
He kept up the intensity in the fourth, in the 10th game serving to level the contest at two-sets all. But from 30-15 up, he produced two successive double faults to gift Djokovic break point. The Serbian grabbed his chance with a delectable lob.
Sealing the match when Roddick banged a service return long, Djokovic let out an almighty roar before launching into his war of words which he later described as "impulsive".
Since the Serb is famed for mimicking he fellow professionals on court, Roddick added: "I figure if you're going to joke and imitate other people and do the whole deal, then you should take it."