NEW YORK -- Roger Federer won't win his 18th career major at this U.S. Open, but Tomas Berdych could win his first.
Playing in his first-ever night match in Flushing Meadows, Berdych, a 26-year-old Czech seeded No. 6, played perhaps the match of his life to stun Federer, 7-6 (1), 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, Wednesday night in the quarterfinals.
"Well, I mean it couldn't be better," the 6-foot-6 Berdych, who meets No. 3 Andy Murray in Saturday's semifinals, said on-court. "There is no better feeling than to play first time night session here and play it against Roger and in the end be able to beat him.
"There is no better moment so far and the crowd, you were great."
Federer, a five-time U.S. Open champ who last won here in 2008, committed 24 unforced errors on his forehand, and 40 unforced errors overall.
He had a four-day layoff coming into the match because Mardy Fish withdrew from their fourth-round match on Monday with health problems. Yet Federer dismissed the layoff as the reason for his errant forehands and loose play in the first-set tiebreak.
"I don't know, I hope not," Federer said. "I've been there before. Once I had six and a half days off and I ended up winning Wimbledon so I don't think that was the issue tonight."
Federer was appearing in his 34th straight Grand Slam quarterfinal and was bidding to reach his ninth straight U.S. Open semifinal.
With Rafael Nadal having missed the tournament with knee problems, this loss ends a streak of 33 straight major semifinals with either Federer or Nadal in them, according to the New York Times.
After trailing 0-2 in the first set, Berdych looked brilliant for the next two and a half sets and, in the words of ESPN announcer John McEnroe, was "absolutely hammering the ball."
Trailing 3-1 in the third set, Federer stoked the crowd's passions by rattling off five straight games, including two breaks of Berdych, to seize the third set.
"Obviously, it was exciting winning the third but the problem was the first couple of sets, particularly the first one," Federer said.
During the fifth game of the fourth set, Federer rocketed a backhand crosscourt pass past Berdych, who fell on his right hand while slipping to hit the ball. It appeared it might be a problem, but the Czech recovered to hold serve and later broke Federer for a 5-3 lead. He held serve to close out the match, finishing with 14 aces and just three double faults.
"When you leave it a little bit on Roger's game and he starts to go for it, it could be a really big problem," Berdych said. "I was just trying to get it back, get my rhythm back again."
Berdych will hope to keep that rhythm going against Murray, against whom he holds a 4-2 lead all-time.
Federer said Berdych has a chance to beat Murray, the Olympic gold medalist who rallied from 3-6, 1-5 down to beat Marin Cilic in four sets.
"Obviously, he's got a good chance," Federer said. "If he plays well and serves well and makes the right decisions before and during the match against Murray, he's got a chance. Obviously, he's beaten him before...It's an interesting matchup for sure."
Berdych, sounding like a man who could win his first major, said, "I have a quite dangerous game to beat anyone."
Murray was in the midst of answering a slew of questions about potentially playing Federer in the semis when he finally said, "Tomas Berdych is a great player, as well. Let's show him some respect, too."