Although the two rivals, who own 34 majors between them, are on a semi-final collision course, Federer wants to take it one step at a time as he looks to win his first Flushing Meadows title since 2008.
Despite climbing back to the top of the rankings it has been a frustrating couple of months for Nadal, who was beaten by Gilles Muller in the fourth round of Wimbledon before suffering losses to Denis Shapovalov and Nick Kyrgios on the North American hard courts.
Five-time champion Roger Federer needed five sets to overcome American teenager Frances Tiafoe in the first round of the US Open .
"I don't think I had the preparation I was hoping to get", Federer said after recording his 79th career victory at this tournament, which leaves him in joint second place alongside Andre Agassi and behind only Jimmy Connors (98 wins) on the all-time list.
On Tuesday, that wish, forged from hours of hitting a ball against the wall of a Maryland club where his father worked as a maintenance man, comes true in front of nearly 25,000 fans on New York's showpiece Arthue Ashe Stadium.
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