New York: Roger Federer and Andy Murray remained on course for a semi-final clash at the US Open after they won in contrasting styles.
Olympic champion Murray, still seeking his first Grand Slam title after four losses in finals, eked out a 7-6, 7-6, 4-6, 7-6 victory over No.30 Feliciano Lopez, who led in each of the three tiebreakers before faltering.
“Could have gone either way,” Murray acknowledged. “It was very hot and humid in the middle part of the match. I was struggling a bit with that.”
The biggest moment came a few minutes before the fourth-set tiebreaker, when Murray saved a break point in a 24-stroke rally in which he drew Lopez into the net, pushed him back and finally got him to hit a backhand into the net to push the game to deuce.
“He came to the net, there was a drop shot, I made a good volley cross court. Points like that can change the match.”
Murray won his 250th career match on hard court and improved to 104-65 in tiebreakers. His next match is against No.15 Milos Raonic, a 6-3, 6-0, 7-6 winner over American James Blake.
Meanwhile, Federer, the man Murray beat for the gold at the Olympics, and lost to in the Wimbledon final, barely broke a sweat while dismissing No.25 Fernando Verdasco 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.
Five of Federer’s record 17 Grand Slam titles have come at Flushing Meadows and he looks capable of adding to those numbers.
The Swiss did an unusual amount of damage at the net, winning 26 of 27 points from the front court. Federer added that effort to the 32 points he won in 47 trips to the net two nights earlier in a second-round win over Bjorn Phau.
“I really tried to play offensive against... [Bjorn] Phau in my second match,” Federer said. “I did lose more points than I was hoping to. But I think that gave me the confidence to move forward today. And conditions helped that because it was quicker during the day.”
Federer next will take on the winner of Saturday’s late match between No.16 Gilles Simon and No.23 Mardy Fish.
Other men’s winners on Saturday included No.11 Nicolas Almagro, who ended the run of 19-year-old American Jack Sock 7-6, 6-7, 7-6, 6-1; No.12 Marin Cilic, who defeated No.17 Kei Nishikori; and 50th-ranked Martin Klizan of Slovakia, who beat No.32 Jeremy Chardy.