Federer cruises into quarter-finals

Roger Federer shakes hands with Philipp Kohlschreiber after the match. Photo: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY...
Roger Federer shakes hands with Philipp Kohlschreiber after the match. Photo: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports via Reuters

Roger Federer crushed Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-4 6-2 7-5 to ease into the quarter-finals of the US Open and leaving the five-time champion on a collision course for a semi-final showdown with Rafa Nadal.

The elegant Swiss maestro and the muscular Spaniard have played for titles on French Open clay, Wimbledon's manicured lawns and in Australian heat and while no trophy would be on the line a New York meeting would still have the Big Apple buzzing.

One of the great rivalries sport, Federer and Nadal have clashed 37 times over the years but never stood across from each other on Flushing Meadows' hardcourts.

Standing between Federer and a semifinal berth is towering Argentine Juan Martin del Potro, who beat the former-world number one in the 2009 final to lift his only grand slam title.

Nadal kept up his end of the bargain for the potential September 8 showdown with a straight sets win over Ukraine's Alexandr Dolgopolov earlier on Monday and will need to get past 19-year-old Russian Andrey Rublev.

After two marathon five-setters to open his US Open account, Federer sprinted past veteran Spaniard Feliciano Lopez in just 77 minutes in the third round and dismissed Kohlschreiber in one hour, 49 minutes without facing a break point.

Federer, a perfect 11-0 against the German, started quietly and content to feel out his opponent but it was not long until he turned up the pressure breaking with a thundering forehand to secure the early break 4-3 and cruising to 1-0 lead.

With the match on serve at 2-1 to the German in the second set, the razor sharp Federer tore through six successive games to take the set and 1-0 lead in the third.

With Kohlschreiber on the ropes, the 36-year-old Swiss seemed to ease up but managed the decisive break at 6-5 then coolly held serve finishing off the contest with a classic forehand winner. 

Juan Martin del Potro dug deep to win his five-set match. Photo: Reuters
Juan Martin del Potro dug deep to win his five-set match. Photo: Reuters

An ailing Del Potro came back from the brink of defeat to beat Austrian sixth seed Dominic Thiem 1-6 2-6 6-1 7-6(1) 6-4 on Monday.

He saved two match points in the fourth set of what was arguably the best of the tournament so far.

"Oh my God, I don't know (I won). What can I say after a battle like this. I was sick the last two days and I just tried to improve game after game," the Argentine, who took a pill near the end of the opening set, said on court.

"I fought like this because of you guys, so thank you very much," he added in reference to the noisy fans who had turned the Grandstand Arena into a raucous football-stadium like atmosphere.

Del Potro struggled early on, spraying the court with unforced errors and had to call the doctor twice.

At 5-0, he took a tablet. He won one game and had two break points at 5-1 but Thiem, who was looking to book his spot in the last eight here for the first time, coolly closed out the set.

He raced to a 4-0 lead in the second as del Potro looked completely out of sorts.

The 'Dominator' was in full control, dictating the play with deep forehands, and he sealed the set with a cracking backhand winner down the line.

The question was then whether del Potro would retire. But the Argentine found his range with his impressive wristy forehand. His opponent could not keep up the pace and del Potro easily pulled one back.

The real fight started in the fourth set.

Del Potro broke for 2-1 but Thiem played tighter and broke immediately back. A delightful backhand winner earned him another break for 4-2 and the Austrian served for the set at 5-3.

He led 30-0 but lost his focus and scooped a forehand long to allow del Potro back in the contest.

Thiem had two match points at 6-5 but del Potro saved them with consecutive aces - one of them at 204 kph.

In the resulting tiebreak, Thiem suffered a meltdown and Del Potro levelled with a gravity-defying crosscourt forehand winner.

The decider was tightly contested but del Potro eventually had the last word. On the second match point, he challenged Thiem's second serve and was spot on as the ball was out, meaning the wiry Argentine got to fight another day.


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