Familiar rivalries will be renewed in the men’s semi-finals at the US Open.
There have been 16 previous matches each between Rafael Nadal and Juan Martin del Potro and Novak Djokovic and Kei Nishikori, with both head to heads well in favour of one man.
But, while Nadal has beaten Del Potro 11 times and Djokovic prevailed against Nishikori 14 times, both know the challenge their respective opponents represent.
For Nadal and Del Potro, this will be a third meeting in the last five grand slams, all won by the Spaniard.
Nadal won comfortably at the French Open and dominated a weary Del Potro after losing the first set at the same stage here last year, but their clash in the Wimbledon quarter-finals was one of the matches of the season.
Nadal eventually won in five sets but it took all the world number one’s immense powers to repel the mighty Del Potro forehand.
And Nadal is all too aware that Flushing Meadows, where he was one of Del Potro’s victims when he won his only slam title in 2009, is the Argentinian’s favourite stage.
Nadal said: “It will be a very tough one. At Wimbledon he’s a great player, he’s a great player everywhere. But the challenge of playing him on hard, of course, is even higher for me personally.
“It will be a big challenge. We know each other very well. I know he’s playing well. I know that I will have to play at my highest level to keep having chances of success. I am focused on trying to make that happen.”
Nadal has been the marathon man of the tournament, spending nearly 16 hours on court during five matches so far, with the most gruelling coming in a late-night classic against Dominic Thiem on Tuesday. Del Potro, by contrast, has completed his victories in 12 hours and 16 minutes.
The third seed, at a career-high ranking of three, is relishing being back at this level after all his injury problems and is hoping to go one better than at Wimbledon.
He said: “It could be another big battle, as the Wimbledon match was. Of course, I like to play always with the number one of the world, it doesn’t matter the tournament or the conditions. I just have the chance to play the greatest in this sport, and it’s amazing for me.”
Nishikori claimed arguably the best win of his career against Djokovic at the same stage in 2014 to reach his only slam final but has lost the subsequent 13 matches.
So one-sided has their rivalry been that Nishikori claimed to have forgotten all about that victory.
The Japanese player, who missed last year’s tournament with a wrist injury, said: “For sure it’s going to give me good confidence, even though I didn’t remember. Maybe I will try to watch the match again.
“I don’t have a great record against Novak, but always it’s been a tough match the last couple of years. I’ve seen a chance, but I haven’t been able to make the last step. I’m always excited to play Novak, because it’s a great challenge for me.”
Conditions were very hot and humid four years ago and the good news for Djokovic, who has frequently talked about surviving on the court this year, is it is expected to be much cooler on Friday.
He credited Nishikori for bringing out the best in him, saying: “I can’t really say he’s a great match-up for me. I have a very good head-to-head score against him.
“Because he plays so fast, he makes me more alert from the first point. He’s got one of the best two-handed backhands in the game and he’s very quick – if not the quickest, then one of the quickest players on the tour.”