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Federer charges into quarters

By Neil Schlecht
Tuesday, September 2, 2014

WHAT HAPPENED: Displaying an attacking game and an urgency to get to net, five-time US Open champion and No. 2 seed Roger Federer sprinted past No. 17 seed Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 in under two hours on Tuesday night to breeze into the quarterfinals. 

Federer, 33, whose movement forward has looked as good through four rounds as it has in several years, won 35 of 52 net approaches. Bautista Agut, 26, has risen steadily in the rankings, but the Spaniard had few weapons to hurt the 17-time Grand Slam champion in their first match.

Federer was sharp throughout, knifing crisp volleys and painting lines with his serve. The Swiss broke serve early in the first set, looking determined to shorten points and minimize his time on court, on a sweltering day. At 8pm, the temperature was still 88 degrees.

By midway through the second set, Federer was 13 of 13 in net approaches.

“Coming to net requires a lot of agility and explosivity,” said Federer. “And I’m happy to have that back.”

Bautista Agut came up through the Futures circuit, where he had great success, and he has risen to a ranking of No. 19. But his flat, old-school baseline game stood little chance against Federer’s superior variety.  

Federer’s full range of shots was on display: mathematically angled volleys; a retreating still-arm overhead; and his trademark full-flight forehand.

WHAT IT MEANS: Federer owns the career record for most Slam quarterfinals in the Open era (43). The Swiss is searching for his sixth title at Flushing Meadows; his last win in 2008. Federer now meets 20th seed Gael Monfils. Federer owns a 7-2 career record against the Frenchman, although Monfils has won two of the last four encounters.

Bautista Agut, one of four Spaniards in the Top 20, reached his second Grand Slam round of 16 (the first was at this year’s Australian Open). There, the Spaniard achieved his one previous win over a Top 10 player, over No. 5 Juan Martin del Potro in the second round.

THE QUESTION: Who is left on Federer’s side of the draw that can stop him from reaching a seventh US Open final?