Roger Federer and Andy Murray remained on course for a semi-final clash at the US Open after they won in contrasting styles on Saturday.
Olympic champion Murray, still seeking his first Grand Slam title after four losses in finals, eked out a 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/5), 4-6, 7-6 (7/4) victory over No. 30 Feliciano Lopez, who led in each of the three tiebreakers before faltering.
“Could have gone either way,” Murray said. “It was very hot and humid in the middle part of the match. I was struggling a bit with that.”
The biggest moment came a few minutes before the fourth-set tiebreaker when Murray saved a break point in a 24-stroke rally in which he drew Lopez into the net, then pushed him back and finally got him to net a backhand to push the game to deuce.
Murray won his 250th career match on hard court and improved to 104-65 in tiebreakers. His next match is scheduled against No. 15 Milos Raonic, a 6-3, 6-0, 7-6 (7/3) winner over the US’ James Blake.
The man he beat for the gold at the Olympics, and lost to in the Wimbledon final, Federer, was barely bothered while dismissing No. 25 Fernando Verdasco 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.
Five of Federer’s record 17 Grand Slam titles came at Flushing Meadows, and he is looking capable of adding to those numbers.
The Swiss did an unusual amount of damage at the net, closing out 26 of 27 points from the front court. Federer added that effort to the 32 points he won in 47 trips to the net two nights earlier in a second-round win over Bjorn Phau.
Federer next is to take on the US’ Mardy Fish, who defeated Gilles Simon of France 6-1, 5-7, 7-6 (7/5), 6-3.
Sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych was a 6-7 (6/8), 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 winner over the US’ Sam Querrey, while No. 11 Nicolas Almagro defeated another local, 19-year-old Jack Sock, 7-6 (7/3), 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/2), 6-1. That sets up an interesting encounter between Berdych and Almagro in the next round. At the Australian Open, Berdych refused to shake hands with Almagro after the match, claiming the Spaniard had deliberately hit the ball at him during the match.
In women’s action, Serena Williams overran Ekaterina Makarova 6-4, 6-0, winning the last eight games of the match.
The previous time these two women played each other, it was not close, either. The difference, surprisingly, was that Makarova won 6-2, 6-3 in the fourth round at the Australian Open.
That loss remains the only one for Williams in 22 Grand Slam matches against left-handers.
“Definitely was motivated. Knowing that I lost; could definitely happen again. Did not want that to happen,” Williams said.
Williams has dropped only 12 games entering her fourth-round match against 82nd-seeded Andrea Hlavackova of the Czech Republic. Hlavackova, last year’s French Open doubles champion, bawled on court after her 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 win over 14th-seeded Maria Kirilenko.
The woman Williams beat in the Wimbledon final, second-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska, dealt with the stifling heat and former No. 1 Jelena Jankovic with equal aplomb during a 6-3, 7-5 victory.
“I was feeling like I was melting there,” Radwanska said. “I survived the match.”
Among Saturday’s other women’s matches, the sixth-seeded Angelique Kerber of Germany put in an eye-catching performance by cruising past Belarussian Olga Govortsova 6-1, 6-2.
Four-time Grand Slam tournament winner and former No. 1-ranked player Kim Clijsters headed into retirement after she and Bob Bryan lost their second-round mixed doubles match against Makarova and Bruno Soares. Clijsters announced months ago that the US Open would be her last tournament and she already was out of singles and women’s doubles.