Both Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic progressed with ease from the fourth round of the US Open with straight set wins over Juan Monaco and Alexandr Dolgopolov Jr respectively.
Federer had to wait till 23:50 local time before he and his opponent could get their encounter underway and it looked to be well past Monaco’s bedtime as the 16-time Grand Slam winner eased in to the quarter-finals 6-1, 6-2, 6-0 in just 82 minutes.
The five-time US Open winner started in breathtaking fashion, breaking his opponent twice in succession and wrapping up the first set in just 18 minutes. At one point he even reeled off four successive aces to ram home his dominance, and when light rain began to fall during the third set the Swiss ace seemed to up the tempo again in a bid to beat the weather and secure his victory by 01:13.
A veteran of the night sessions due to his stature in the tennis world, Federer said that the late start hadn’t affected him one iota in his preparations.
“You have to be ready,” he said. “I knew I was going to play late and there were all kinds of possibilities that they might move us to another court. As tennis players we’re used to it.”
Djokovic didn’t have it all his way against the Ukrainian and had to save four set points in an epic first set tie-break that saw the world number one have six of his own before finally securing it 16-14.
The heartbreak seemed to affect Dolgopolov and he started badly in the second, dropping to 0-4 in no time at all. But if there is one thing you cannot call the world number 21 it is a quitter and he fought back, breaking Djokovic’s serve twice before eventually losing the set 5-7.
Then Djokovic upped his game again to see out the match 7-6(14), 7-5, 6-2 in his chase for a first US Open crown.
“Winning it was very important,” Djokovic said of his comeback in the first set tie-break. “That was probably the turning point. After that it was a good performance.
“He played a lot of low balls, slices – I was confused on the court. But it was really exciting.”
Djokovic will now meet his close friend and Serbian Davis Cup team-mate Janko Tipsarevic in the quarter-finals after the 20th seed overcame a despondent-looking former world number one Juan Carlos Ferrero 7-5, 6-7(3), 7-5, 6-2.
Up next for Federer is a re-match of the 2011 Wimbledon quarter-final against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The memories of that epic will be fresh in the memory after Tsonga came from two sets down to defeat Federer 3-6, 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. It was the first time the world number three had ever lost after being two sets ahead in a Grand Slam.
Tsonga set that re-match up by ending the American hopes for Mardy Fish in the fourth round in a tense 6-4, 6-7(5), 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 match on Arthur Ashe Court.
In the women’s draw, Caroline Wozniacki staged a dramatic comeback against Svetlana Kuznetsova to keep alive her hopes of landing her maiden Grand Slam.
The world number one looked set to exit before the quarterfinals at a set and 1-4 down but the Dane battled back in exceptional circumstances to book a place in the quarters against Andrea Petkovic via a 6-7(6), 7-5, 6-1 win.
“I thought about the match we played against each other here in 2009,” she said. “I was a set and break down in the second in that one and still won.
“I knew I could come back so I just stepped into the lines, went for my shots, and tried to make fewer errors. I am in good shape. I can play for five hours if I have to. I just wanted to keep the rallies going.”
28th seed Serena Williams joined Wozniacki there as she produced yet another dominating display to see off fellow former world number one Ana Ivanovic 6-3, 6-4.
Blustery conditions affected the games of both stars but Serena coped the better despite her ball toss becoming unpredictable in the wind.
“It was crazy,” Williams said. “I didn’t even go for winners at any point. I just tried to get it over because it was so windy. It was like, ‘Wow’. It was definitely tough. It just kind of swirls down there. But you just have to win in all kinds of situations.”
Serena will next face Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who also came back to complete an impressive turnaround victory against 2010 French Open winner Francesca Schiavone 5-7, 6-3, 6-4.