WHAT HAPPENED: No. 2 seed Roger Federer of Switzerland overcame a slow start in his third-round match in Arthur Ashe Stadium against Marcel Granollers of Spain, hammering down 47 winners in the last three sets and winning 18 of the last 20 games to prevail to prevail, 4-6, 6-1, 6-1, 6-1.
Granollers hadn’t taken a set off Federer in their two previous matches but was determined to break that streak. He dropped just one point in the first three games of the match, stepped well inside the court to attack Federer’s second serve and thumped a return winner to break him in his opening service game. But with the No. 2 seed serving down 2-5, rain and lightning took the players off the court for two hours.
When play resumed, Federer immediately grabbed the break of serve back and it appeared that the ship had been righted. But with Federer serving at 4-5, Granollers produced his best tennis, hitting a lob winner to earn set point and lacing a backhand passing shot up the line to grab the opening set.
When Granollers earned a break-point opportunity in Federer’s opening service game of the second set, the fans inside Arthur Ashe Stadium began to murmur at the makings of a potential upset. But Federer saved it with an ace and as day turned into night, the No. 2 seed began to find himself in familiar form. A huge forehand gave him an early break of serve against the Spaniard and then he broke once again with an outrageous forehand passing shot on the run to lead 4-1. Two games later, the Swiss maestro wrapped up the second set when Granollers sent a forehand long.
The third set picked up where the second set left off, as a backhand into the net from Granollers gave Federer an early break of serve. The Spaniard managed to hold serve down 0-3 and stop the streak of consecutive games lost at nine, but it did little to stop the Federer onslaught. Charging the net in an effort to shorten the rallies, Federer took control with another break of serve to go up, 5-1, and he easily closed out his next service game to wrap up the set.
Federer continued his one-way traffic in the final set, breaking Granollers once again in his opening service game. He hit a forehand volley winner on his third match point to wrap up the match after just under two hours of play.
WHAT IT MEANS: With this win, Federer has reached the second week of the US Open for the 14th consecutive year. He next plays No. 17 seed Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain or Adrian Mannarino of France. The No. 2 seed has never played Bautista Agut before, but he has dominated all four of his previous matches against Mannarino, including a straight-sets shellacking at last year’s US Open in which he dropped just five games.
Looming ahead for the five-time US Open champion is a potential quarterfinal match against No. 7 seed Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria. Federer won their only meeting last fall in his birth city of Basel, but Dimitrov has been in red-hot form this tournament and could prove to be a major test.
THE QUESTION: Do you think Federer will go all the way at this year’s US Open?