ROGER FEDERER SAILS THROUGH TO FOURTH ROUND IN NEW YORK
Federer never looked in any danger of not reaching the last 16
Five-time US Open champion Roger Federer cruised into the fourth round with a 6-4 6-3 6-3 win over Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu in New York.
Federer, 29, did not have to be at his best as he reached the last 16 in total control at Flushing Meadows.
Third seed Novak Djokovic proved too strong for crowd favourite James Blake as he secured a 6-1 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 win.
The pair were joined in the last 16 by Robin Soderling after the Swede eased past Thiemo de Bakker 6-2 6-3 6-3.
Second seed Federer revealed he had found the blustery conditions problematic on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
“Playing in the wind was so hard,” said Federer. “Against the wind it only takes a little bit of a bad serving game and the other guy is back in the match. I think I did a good job on that front.
“I was taking chances and playing safe when it was important, so under the circumstances I was able to mix it up quite well, even though it was hard to time the ball.
“I think he found it really hard towards the end and that was good for me. After the first set I was able to break his will a little bit.”
Blake, whose popularity at Flushing Meadows was ensured by a run to the last eight as a wildcard in 2005, looked destined for a swift defeat when Djokovic rattled through the opener in 22 minutes.
Djokovic's first serve percentage was an impressive 79%
But the 30-year-old showed the shot-making that once helped him to fourth in the world, and some gritty determination, to make the second set a real fight.
The American even stole ahead with a break in the sixth game, but Djokovic immediately responded in kind and the Serb proved the stronger in the tiebreak despite the crowd's noisy support.
Djokovic's relentless accuracy kept his serve secure and his solitary break in the fourth game was never in danger.
“It was a big mental struggle just to stay on the court and stay focused. If James had won the second set it could have been a different match,” said Djokovic.
Soderling remains on a course to meet Federer – who he beat in the French Open quarter-finals – in the last eight, but with a tie against Spain's Alberto Montanes coming up he is not looking beyond that.
“Everybody has been telling me since the draw came out I'm playing Roger in the quarters. It's still far ahead,” said fifth seed Soderling.
“It's always difficult to play against Roger and I have played him a lot of times. In any tournament they play, Roger and Rafa will be the favourites, but there are a lot of players who can beat them.”
Montanes was the beneficiary of Kei Nishikori's misfortune as the Japanese world number 147 retired with a groin injury at 6-2 2-1 down.
Before Federer can contemplate revenge for his Roland Garros reverse, he must defeat 13th seed Jurgen Melzer.
The Austrian enjoyed a 7-5 6-3 6-1 win over former world number one Juan Carlos Ferrero, seeded 22nd.
French 17th seed Gael Monfils earned a third successive fourth-round berth with a 7-6 (7-4) 6-7 (4-7) 6-2 6-4 victory over Andy Roddick's conqueror Janko Tipsarevic.
That set up an all-French last-16 battle with Richard Gasquet after the 24-year-old beat South Africa's Kevin Anderson 6-4 7-6 (7-3) 7-5.
Mardy Fish , one four Americans to reach the third round, was made to work hard for his place in the last 16 by France's Arnaud Clement.
After his form collapsed in the fourth set, the 19th seed recovered to take the match 4-6 6-3 6-4 1-6 6-3 and will face Djokovic next.