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Federer safely through to US Open quarter-finals

Michael Beattie at Flushing Meadows
September 3, 2014 « Monfils blitzes Dimitrov to reach last eight | Day 6: Maria Ho eliminated, 68 left »
Roger Federer is back in the quarter-finals at the US Open for the first time since 2012 © AP
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Roger Federer was not going to be caught cold twice. After dropping his first set of the US Open against Marcel Granollers, the five-time champion raced out of the blocks against Roberto Bautista Agut en route to a 6-4 6-3 6-2 win that sends him through to his 43rd grand slam quarter-final.

Federer, a five-time former champion in New York, will face Gael Monfils, who knocked out No.7 seed Grigor Dimitrov, for a place in the semi-finals after easing past the Spaniard in one hour, 56 minutes.

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Bautista Agut lives and dies by the percentage play, loading his forehand with play-it-safe spin throughout to draw mistakes from the world No.3, who obliged with 25 unforced errors countered by 36 winners.

It would have been a stretch to expect the No.17 seed to suddenly rush forward or power winners from all corners of the court, but his safe tactics played into Federer's hands. The 33-year-old expertly constructed points around finishing points at the net, where he converted 35 of his 52 approaches - testament to the impact of coach and mentor, Stefan Edberg.

"I used to serve and volley some as well myself, before my baseline game was good enough" Federer said. "I'm happy I'm able to come forward now - you need agility, you've got to anticipate some and read some."

Federer, kitted out in all black save for his white Michael Jordan-inspired shoes, broke twice in the first five games of the match - an insurance policy that came in handy when the Spaniard claimed one of the sets back.

Bautista Agut had chances on the Federer serve once more in the second set, but not before the 17-time grand slam champion had broken in game three. Having averted the mid-set danger, he broke again to serve at the start of the third.

An incorrect challenge opened the door for Bautista Agut to finally lead in a set, but Federer served his way out of trouble and again broke early to assume control. Serving to stay in the match the world No.19 crumbled, netting a forehand on Federer's second set point to give up the win.

Federer and Monfils faced one another in Cincinnati in the build-up to the US Open, a match won in three sets by the Swiss, who described the No. 20 seed as "one of the most exciting and entertaining players out there."

Tomas Berdych booked his quarter-final spot with a routine 6-1 6-2 6-4 victory over 20-year-old Austrian Dominic Thiem, the last unseeded player standing in the draw.

The Czech No.6 seed will face Marin Cilic for a place in the semi-finals after the Croatian beat Gilles Simon for the first time in his career over five sets, prevailing 5-7 7-6(3) 6-4 3-6 6-3.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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