The New York night shift is Roger Federer’s time to shine.
Federer transformed this night into rush hour charging closer toward a dazzling rivalry reunion with Rafael Nadal tonight.
A dynamic Federer did drop serve dismissing Philipp Kohlschreiber, 6-4, 6-2, 7-5, advancing to a blockbuster US Open quarterfinal with Juan Martin del Potro.
The third-seeded Swiss swatted 11 aces, did not drop serve and permitted just six points on his first serve in raising his record in Arthur Ashe Stadium night matches to 32-1 with another night fight looming.
About the only suspense in tonight’s match came off court as Federer took a medical timeout after the second set for treatment of his lower back that Federer calls his “funny back.”
“It’s been a great match for me today against Philipp, he can be very tough but I protected my serve,” Federer told ESPN’s Brad Gilbert afterward. “I just needed a bit of a rub on my back or my bottom and I didn’t want to do it on court. I wanted to get it done as quick as possible so Philipp wouldn’t have to wait.”
While getting a rubdown, Federer heard the roars from a raucous Grandstand crowd cheering del Potro staging an epic comeback from two sets down to defeat Dominic Thiem.
“When I went out for my treatment I checked the score because I heard all these roars that’s when I knew del Potro had won,” Federer said.
The Federer-del Potro match is a rematch of their classic 2009 Flushing Meadows final in which the Argentine outdueled Federer in five sets becoming the first man to defeat Rafael Nadal and Federer back-to-back in a Grand Slam. Federer has won 16 of 21 meetings with the heavy-hitting Argentine, including a 6-3, 6-4, Miami triumph in March.
“It’s great to see (del Potro) back on the tour,” Federer said. “He’s had a rough ride for a lot of years with his wrists. To see him back on tour and happy and winning and beating the best players on tour like Thiem is wonderful for our sport. To play him here after our epic final in 2009 I think we’re both looking forward to it—at least I am.”
The 36-year-old Swiss raised his 2017 Grand Slam record to 18-0 moving one win closer to a potential first US Open showdown with rival Nadal.
World No. 1 Nadal overwhelmed Alexandr Dolgopolov, 6-2, 6-4, 6-1, in his most commanding match of the tournament and will face 19-year-old Andrey Rublev for a trip to his first US Open semifinal in four years.
Forced into a five-set fight against American teenager Frances Tiafoe in the first round, Federer is finding his groove against a trio of veterans he’s dominant. The Wimbledon champion owns a 42-0 record combined against the last three veteran opponents he’s dispatched: Mikhail Youzhny, Feliciano Lopez and Kohlschreiber, who looked rushed and never really recovered from Federer’s second-set surge.
Rifling a forehand winner down the line, Federer broke for 4-3 and slid successive aces to confirm the break at love. The third-seeded Swiss won 16 of 18 first-serve points building a one set lead.
Hooking a running forehand, Federer forced Kohlschreiber to play a forehand volley. The German netted it then flipped his Wilson racquet in the air in disgust as Federer broke for a 3-2 second-set lead that shattered Kohlschreiber’s spirit.
Breezing through the second set on a five-game run, Federer committed only three unforced errors in the 27-minute second set.
The 36-year-old Swiss left the court for quick treatment on his lower back.
Trotting back onto the court in his return, Federer did not appear to be slowed by the issue. He carved out the break for 6-5 and closed in one hour, 49 minutes.
“I haven’t lost at a Slam this year,” Federer said. “I want to keep it going.”