NEW YORK -- For anyone not named Nadal or Djokovic, the notion of beating Roger Federer looms as one of life's great pipe dreams, like dating Jessica Alba or trading checking accounts with Oprah.
But after seeing the way the world's No. 1 player has labored to defeat his last two opponents, the idea of a guy like Andy Roddick coming in and scoring an upset against the three-time defending U.S. Open champion is beginning to seem like less of an implausibility.
On Wednesday night, Roddick takes his 1-13 lifetime record against Federer to Ashe Stadium with his mind on avenging a four-set waxing in last year's Open final.
How will he fare this time around? Let's scan the Tape for some answers:
|TALE OF THE TAPE
|Last Won the Open
||Every year since
||Federer, who is 5-0 against Roddick in Grand Slams
||"Throw it all at him." "Make it a war."
||Breathe air, step on court, pick up ball, strike with racket.
||Federer, God among mortals
||Two opponents (Jose Acasuso in Round 2 and Tomas Berdych in Round 4) retired early.
||Two opponents (Feliciano Lopez in Round 4 and John Isner in Round 3) have taken a first set.
||Federer. He's weathered the storm each time, while Andy has pretty much cruised into the quarters. (Who'd have thought SI.com's own Justin Gimelstob would have been his biggest challenge so far?)
|Coach In Corner
||Jimmy Connors. He knows the game.
||Anna Wintour. She knows Coach designers.
||Roddick. Anna was so last year.
||In a just more than a year working with Connors, has reached one Grand Slam final (last year's U.S. Open).
||In a little less than a year working without a coach, has reached every Grand Slam final (Wimbledon and the French).
||Federer. Apparently, no coach is still better than Connors.
||Plays in tuxedo shorts.
||Federer, whose all-black evening ensemble has rightly earned him the soon-to-be immortal sobriquet "Darth Federer." What's more, before this year's fortnight, who knew there was such a thing as tuxedo "shorts"?
||The New York Daily News breathlessly reported, "Andy may be playing in Queens, but at Nobu he seemed to have his mind on Brooklyn [Decker, the Sports Illustrated model]."
||The New York Post breathlessly reported the "tennis stud dropped $800 for a haircut at the Sally Hershberger salon on West 14th Street."
||Roddick. Brooklyn doesn't even spend $800 on a haircut.
||Relentlessly pursues a tennis ball while steering a Lexus.
||Reverentially caresses Tiger Woods' face in a cheeky spot for Gillette.
||Push. Both situations -- Andy in the driver's seat or anyone laying a hand on Tiger -- requires suspending a lot of belief.
||On Fed: "Yeah, I pretty much know his game. But he's played in different ways against me: returning from far back, returning in, chip-and-charging, serve-and-volleying, playing from the baseline with me. I hope I won't get surprised next match."
||On A-Rod: "I think we played each other enough. I don't think I'm going to watch him and discover that he's good tonight, you know."
||Federer. After pinning the leftie Lopez and subduing Isner's big serve, taming Roddick is gonna seem like a walk in the park.
The verdict: Fed wins (again), 7-2, on Tape. On Wednesday, look for Roddick to get a set -- but nothing more.