It became apparent within 20 minutes that Roger Federer had done his homework. Even though Federer had never played against Roberto Bautista Agut he put aside any doubt of a victory as he quickly went up 5-1 in the first set. For all intents and purposes, the match was over.
Even though Bautista Agut fought back to only lose 6-4 in the first set, Federer had already sent a message that he was not going to be beaten under the lights. He is now 25-1 at night during the US Open and doesn’t appear to be slowing down. A sprightly Federer came to the net 52 times converting at 67% and also feasted on Bautista Agut 1st and 2nd serve, only allowing the Spaniard to convert at 58% and 42% respectively.
Federer’s next opponent, Gael Monfils, has been on a tear this tournament. He has yet to drop a set and bullied both Gasquet and Dimitrov with outrageous shot making and bizarre mind games (shown below). Federer has a 7-2 all time record against Monfils, though they have split their last 6 sets combined, all of which occurred on hard courts. Federer just showed what he can do against a counter-puncher however, so he’ll be more than prepared for Monfils.
From the day the draw was released it always appeared that Federer had the most favorable path to final among the favorites and that has more than held true. Even if Djokovic gets through Murray today it is sure to a mentally and physically draining matchup. Even once in the semis if you gave Djokovic the choice of Wawrinka or Berdych he’d take Berdych 9 times out of 10. Federer could get to the finals without having faced in the top 13 if both he and Cilic win Thursday night. I can’t remember a time when a 2 seed has had such an easier go of it than the 1 seed.
If everything goes according to plan and Federer does get to the final he’ll undoubtedly be the fan favorite. Having 23,000 people in your corner screaming after every point can not be underestimated. No matter who Federer faces the US Open crowd will be eager for him to turn back the clock and give them one more moment to cherish. For as well as Federer has been playing people forget that he has only won a single Grand Slam since 2010 and hasn’t won the US Open since 2008. It won’t be easy to win three more matches this week but the stars seem to have aligned for exactly that to happen.