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Federer storms back to rout Granollers

Michael Beattie at Flushing Meadows
August 31, 2014 « LIVE - Transfer deadline day | Day 6: Maria Ho eliminated, 68 left »
Roger Federer recovered from an uncharacteristically slow start against Marcel Granollers © AP
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Roger Federer overcame a slow start and a heavy thunderstorm to produce some of his best tennis of this US Open as Marcel Granollers was dispatched 4-6 6-1 6-1 6-1 in the third round.

The world No.3 responded to his first dropped set of the tournament with a nine-game streak that swung the momentum firmly in his favour, wrapping up the match in one hour, 58 minutes to set up a last-16 clash with Roberto Bautista Agut, who beat Adrian Mannarino 7-5 6-2 6-3.

"It's been really excellent the last three matches here at the US Open," said Federer, his confidence high after a strong summer season. "I feel very explosive, quick. The coordination is there, as well. I feel like I've gotten used to the hard courts by now."

Less than an hour after Caroline Wozniacki and Maria Sharapova had taken a 10-minute heat rule break during their fourth-round encounter, the No.2 seed and his Spanish opponent were ushered from the Arthur Ashe Stadium court as tournament officials called for the stadium to be evacuated with lightning in the area.

Mentally, Federer had barely left the locker room by then. Granollers claimed the first 10 points of the match to open up a 4-1 lead inside 15 minutes before play was suspended with the world No.42 leading 5-2 in the first.

With flash flood warnings in place, the USTA cancelled the day session but juggled the night session schedule to get the match back on Ashe. Federer broke back when play resumed after the two-hour break, but Granollers broke once more with a pair of backhand passes to grab the first set.

As he had before the delay, Granollers committed himself to taking time away from Federer, refusing to take a backward step from the baseline and venturing forward when possible. The strategy had caught Federer cold in the first set but the five-time US Open champion was all too aware from thereon out.

What had been a compelling game of cat and mouse was rapidly reduced to a duck hunt; from 0-1 in the second set, Federer claimed 18 of the next 20 games and hit 57 winners in total from all corners of the court.

Asked how the Federer of 2014 world fare against the player who claimed 12 of his 17 grand slams between 2004 and 2007, the world No.3 said: "I feel I have more power on my serve. I volley better now. I've gotten to understand so many things over those years.

"But the thing back then is I was so unbelievably confident. I was coming through stretches where I wouldn't lose against top 10 players, I wouldn't lose finals. I didn't remember losing - how it happened or how it would work. I had an unbelievable winner mentality - not that I don't have it today, but I haven't won as much as I did back then."

Elsewhere, fourth-seeded David Ferrer became the first top-10 seed to fall in the men's draw, losing to Gilles Simon 6-3 3-6 6-1 6-3 in the third round.

Simon, seeded 26th, confounded Ferrer with a variety of shots that kept him out of sync. Ferrer piled up an uncharacteristic 52 unforced errors, nearly twice as many as Simon.

The Frenchman noted that Ferrer had dominated their previous matchups 5-1 and not many of them were close.

"He destroyed me every time, so I felt I had nothing to lose," Simon said. "I just wanted to go out and enjoy myself on the court."

Simon will face Marin Cilic in the next round, after the 14th seed saw off Kevin Anderson 6-3 3-6 6-3 6-4.

Tomas Berdych booked his spot in the last 16 with a routine 6-3 6-2 6-4 win over Russia's Teymuraz Gabashvili.

The No.6 seed will take on Austrian 20-year-old Dominic Thiem, who knocked out Spanish No.19 seed Feliciano Lopez in straight sets, 6-4 6-2 6-3.

Gael Monfils was unhappy to have to play through a short shower midway through the first set of his match with Richard Gasquet, but still produced a 6-4 6-2 6-2 victory against compatriot Richard Gasquet.

The No.20 seed awaits No.7 seed Grigor Dimitrov, a 0-6 6-3 6-4 6-1 winner against Belgium's David Goffin, in the last 16.

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