Roger Federer buried the early mis-fires from his first two US Open matches as the third seed regained his championship form with a 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 thrashing of outclassed Brit Dan Evans on Friday.
The efficient third-round victory in 80 minutes showed that the Federer game is back on rhythm; the 20-time Grand Slam winner had dropped the opening sets of his first two victories at this edition.
“What matters the most for me is that I am in the third round, after those two sort of slow starts,” the winner said. “I gave myself another opportunity to do better, and I did.
“You almost tend to forget what happened and you move forward. Today was good. Different conditions, I was able to adjust and take care of business.”
Evans, who once had a training session with the Master, had little to show for his up-close exposure to the best to have ever played the game.
But he did voice a complaint that the after finishing a win the previous evening at around 6 pm, he was playing again the next morning with a noon start.
“I was fatigued, as well. I thought it was pretty tough I was first up after playing yesterday, if I’m being brutally honest.
“So was a bit disappointing.”
The No. 58 went down his third loss in as many matches with the five-time Open champion, with Federer firing 48 winners while breaking seven times..
Due to a match under the closed roof on Wednesday’s rain day, Federer has remained on his every-other-day schedule.
Evans came to the court after beating Lucas Pouille in four sets less than 24 hours earlier in a delayed contest.
Federer was playing in the New York third round for the 19th time and stands 18-1 at this stage over his career after last losing in the round in 2000.
He next plays David Goffin, a 7-6(5), 7-6(9), 7-5 winner over Pablo Carrena Busta.
The confident Swiss unleashed on Evans in the final set after sweeping the first two – Evans smashed a racquet after losing the second – though the seed did have to overcome a freak break of serve as he turned in a dud third game after breaking Evans for 2-0.
But the relentless momentum was quickly restored, with Federer moving to 5-1 after a break to love as the frustrated Brit donated a double-fault to lose it.
Federer completed his demolition a game later, with Evans sailing a return out on match point.
Fellow Swiss Stan Wawrinka, the 2016 champion, also advanced, outlasting Italy’s Paolo Lorenzi 6-4, 7-6 (9), 7-6 (4) in three hours with the winner pounding 24 aces, one of the highest match totals of his career.
“I feel great. Really happy with the win,” the treble Grand Slam champion said. “It was a good battle on the court. Important to win.
“I was really happy fighting well, moving well. I’m really happy to get through that one.”
Wawrinka earned a re-match with defending champion Novak Djokovic, who beat Denis Kudla 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.
The Serb came into the match with fitness doubts after playing in the previous round with serious pain in his left shoulder.
“I managed to play almost pain-free, it was a big improvement from my last match,” Djokovic said.
“I didn’t know how it would react. I’m just glad to have finished the match tonight.
“The shoulder has been bothering me the last couple of weeks. I didn’t train on Thursday, I took time to try and recover and get all possible treatments to be here tonight. I’ve had some great battle with Stan, the last time I played him on this court (2016 final) I lost.
“He’s a three-time Grand Slam champion whose game has a lot of quality and power – let the better player win.”
Wawrinka has beaten Djokovic in both of their Grand Slam finals, at Roland Garros in 2015 and here a year later.
“We practised here last week before tournament,” the 34-year-old Swiss said.
“We used to practise almost before every Grand Slam together. We’re good good friends. It’s always good practise, good level. It’s always good for my tennis.”
Australian hope Alex di Minaur, protege of Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt, knocked off 2014 finalist Kei Nishikori as he punished the Japanese player 6-2, 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 after nearly three hours of battle.
“It was amazing, this is where I want to be,” the Spanish-trained Aussie said.
“I want to be pushing these guys, I want to be pushing second weeks of Grand Slams and putting myself out there; I’m very happy.”
De Minaur claimed his first victory over a Top 10 player after 11 losses and reached the second week of a major for the first time.