U.S. Open tennis: Federer back in quarterfinals, Murray to battle No. 1 Djokovic
- Roger Federer, of Switzerland, smiles and flashes a thumb up after defeating Roberto Bautista Agut, of Spain, 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 during the fourth round of the 2014 U.S. Open tennis tournament, Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
NEW YORK (AP) - Andy Murray went more than a year between victories over top-10 opponents.
Now he needs to make it two in a row.
In the U.S. Open quarterfinals Wednesday night, he will face No. 1 Novak Djokovic, the seven-time major champion Murray beat in the final for his two Grand Slam titles - at Flushing Meadows in 2012, and at Wimbledon in 2013.
The latter had been Murray's most recent win against someone ranked in the top 10 until he got past Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the fourth round Monday.
"That's really why we play the game. That's what you put the work in for, so that when you come to these events, and you do have to play against the best players, that you're ready," the eighth-seeded Murray said. "As much as it's incredibly tough and challenging, the match, that's what you enjoy."
Djokovic, the 2011 U.S. Open champion and a participant in the past four finals in New York, has won 12 of 20 career meetings against Murray.
Both men are superb returners and ball-retrievers, able to swing from defense to offense in a blink.
"A lot of the matches have been long games, long rallies, long points," Murray said, "because we do a lot of the same things well."
Healthy Federer back into quarterfinals vs. Monfils
NEW YORK (AP) -- A year ago at this time, Roger Federer was dealing with a bad back. He was experimenting with new rackets. And his nine-year run of reaching at least the quarterfinals at the U.S. Open ended with a fourth-round loss.
Things are different these days for the 33-year-old Federer.
Enjoying a new racket with a larger head, healthy enough to train properly and push forward whenever possible, Federer got back to the quarterfinals at Flushing Meadows with a 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 victory over 17th-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain on Tuesday night.
"Because of the issues I had last year, I had to be unbelievably careful what I did. We had to cut back on a few things I usually would do, but were scared to do. That was not what I wanted to do," he said about his fitness work. "Sometimes if that's what it is and it means don't run on the treadmill or don't do jumps or whatever it is, well, there's other ways you can train that. I'm happy that basically today I can do whatever and I don't have any more setbacks."
And the benefit of that, Federer explained: "Now I have my confidence back. It's as simple as that."
At the 2013 U.S. Open, Federer lost to Tommy Robredo in the fourth round, part of a stretch in which the 17-time Grand Slam title winner was bounced before the quarters three times in the span of four majors.
At Wimbledon in July, Federer got to his first Grand Slam final in two years, and even though he lost that match to Novak Djokovic, it signaled a real resurgence.
On a windy evening against Bautista Agut, someone he had never faced, Federer moved well and won the point on 35 of 52 trips to the net.
"Coming to net requires a lot of agility and explosivity and all that stuff - and I have it back," said Federer, a five-time champion at Flushing Meadows. "I'm happy I'm feeling good at net, too, because you've got to anticipate some and read some and it's working really well. So I hope I can keep it up."
Federer was broken only once, part of a three-game run for Bautista Agut that took the score from 5-1 to 5-4 in the first set. But Federer had no trouble the second time he tried to serve out that set, which he ended with a pair of aces.
In all, the second-seeded Federer needed less than two hours to improve to 25-1 in night matches at Arthur Ashe Stadium. This was Bautista Agut's first such occasion in the imposing, 23,771-capacity arena.
Federer is 71-9 overall at the U.S. Open, tying Pete Sampras and Bill Tilden for the fifth-most match wins in tournament history behind Jimmy Connors' 98. Federer's .888 winning percentage is second behind the .910 of Tilden, who went 71-7 and won seven championships in the 1920s.
In Thursday's quarterfinals, Federer will play 20th-seeded Gael Monfils of France.
Federer has won seven of their nine past meetings, including at a hard-court tuneup tournament in Mason, Ohio, last month.
"He's one of the most exciting and entertaining players out there," Federer said, "so I think we can get ready for some good points - some good retrieving by him, some attacking by me."