NEW YORK (AFP) — Top-ranked Roger Federer shook off a strong challenge Monday from Spain's Feliciano Lopez to reach a US Open quarter-final and Tommy Haas advanced in a five-set thriller with US sixth seed James Blake.
Federer, seeking a 12th Grand Slam title and fourth US Open crown in a row, outlasted the 60th-ranked Spanish left-hander 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-4 to book a date against US fifth seed Andy Roddick, whom he has beaten in 13 of 14 tries.
"It's a great record but it doesn't help me," Federer said. "We'll see how it goes. We've have some great battles over the years. Many went my way but it's a new day. Anything goes. We'll see what happens."
The 26-year-old Swiss star is trying to reach the finals of his 10th Slam in a row as he chases the all-time record of 14 Slam titles won by Pete Sampras, but for a while he had his hands full escaping the round of 16.
Lopez broke Federer in the fourth game of the match and claimed the first set in 25 minutes then fought level into the last game of set two, when Federer ripped a steller backhand winner and lob winner to break and even the match.
Federer fell behind 0-40 to open the third set, then won 13 of the next 14 points for a 3-0 lead, broke again in the sixth game and took the set in 23 minutes, then broke early in the fourth and cruised to victory in two hours.
"He was playing fantastic for the first two sets. He was dictating play and I was struggling," Federer said. "I had to come back. It was definitely a struggle out here. You have to hope he's not going to keep playing that well."
German 10th seed Haas, forced to pull out of a fourth-round Wimbledon match with Federer due to a torn stomach muscle, saved three match points to oust Blake 4-6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-0, 7-6 (7/4) after three hours 17 minutes.
"The whole fifth set was very dramatic. We both played unbelievable tennis in the fifth set," Haas said. "I just tried to stay calm and fight through every point. To be in the quarter-finals once again, it's an awesome feeling."
Haas fired 18 aces and 69 winners to dispatch Blake and book a last-eight date with Russian fourth seed Nikolay Davydenko, who routed South Korean Lee Hyung-Taik 6-1, 6-3, 6-4 in just over two hours.
Roddick led 7-6 (8/6), 2-0 when Czech ninth seed Berdych retired after complaining of fatigue.
"It's tough. You don't want to advance because someone else isn't feeling well," Roddick said. "I could tell he was hurting. It's unfortunate. But I'm in the quarters and I hope I can go a little further."
That will be tough. Roddick has lost nine matches in a row to Federer since his lone victory in a 2003 Montreal semi-final. Federer, atop the rankings for a record 188th week, won his 50th career title last month at Cincinnati.
Blake, who won his first five-set triumph in 10 tries only four nights before, had three match points with Haas serving at 4-5 in the fifth set.
Haas, an Australian Open semi-finalist in January, saved the first with a forehand winner and the next two with service winners before hitting an ace and watching Blake hit a forehand wide to hold on the way to tie-break.
"Every time he had a match point I came up with a good serve. That saved me," Haas said. "I kept telling myself to try to get to 5-all, maybe then I can calm down a little bit and relax."
Blake double faulted to fall behind 5-3 in the tie-break and hit a forehand wide to give Haas triple match point. Blake rescued the first on a replay appeal when his backhand was called good on the baseline by an eyelash.
On the next point, Blake challenged an ace call for Haas but the replay showed it was on the outer line and the home nation favorite was out.
"When I had match points he made every first serve. It's deflating, but I didn't feel like I let it get to me," Blake said. "When he had chances in the breaker he took advantage of them. Too good."
As Blake recovered in 2004 from Zoster, a disease affecting hearing and sight, he took inspiration from Haas, who had missed the 2003 season following right shoulder surgery.
"Both of us playing at this level again in front of an unbelievable crowd, it's as good as it gets," Haas said. We can both be very proud of what we've achieved after going through something I think many people can't imagine."
Berdych, yet to beat a top-10 foe in a Slam, netted a forehand to squander a set point in the tie-break, sprayed two more shots to hand Roddick the first set, surrendered a break with another error and then called it a day.
"I was feeling really bad. I was trying and hoping it would change," Berdych said. "I couldn't breathe as normal. I didn't feel well. The body was so slow."
Copyright © 2013 AFP. All rights reserved. More »