Roger Federer was making no excuses after his US Open loss, despite being surprised by Marin Cilic's "incredible" performance.
Cilic reached his maiden grand slam final after crunching 43 winners in a 6-3 6-4 6-4 win over the Swiss second seed at Flushing Meadows on Saturday.
The Croatian described it as the best performance of his career as Federer had no answers to his power.
Federer said he felt fine physically despite a five-set quarter-final win over Gael Monfils, instead paying tribute to Cilic's display.
"I think him playing with the lead he played with no fear and just full-out confidence, which clearly everybody at this point sort of has in the semis of a slam," Federer told a news conference.
"I think he served great when he had to. I think the first break was tough. I think I was up 40-0 and then lose five straight points, and then had one chance in the third when I was up a break and he came straight back. Those are my two moments really.
"But credit to him for just playing incredible tennis."
Federer had won all five previous matches against Cilic, but was stunned by the 14th seed's consistency this time around.
"Just how consistently he was able to pull it off, forehand and backhand. Yeah, I was surprised," he said.
A first-time grand slam champion awaits, with Cilic to face talented Japanese right-hander Kei Nishikori.
Federer said Nishikori's run was expected, but Cilic's came as more of a shock.
"I'm more surprised with Cilic, to be honest, because he's older. He's been around for longer, but he's really been able to make a nice transition in the last few years in his game. There is a significant difference in how he plays," Federer said.
"Whereas with Kei I always thought unbelievable talent way back when I played with him for the first time when he was 17.
"I just wasn't quite sure that in a best-of-five-set tournament if he could get all the way to the back end of the tournament.
"But he's beaten myself twice already, other top guys before.
"He was destroying Rafa [Nadal] in the finals of Madrid. He's shown what he can do, and that's why with Kei I'm not surprised, really."