There was no slow start for Roger Federer on Friday, as the Swiss soared into the Round of 16 at the US Open.
After conceding the opening set in both his first and second round victories, Federer ensured those initial struggles were an anomaly. He ousted Daniel Evans 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 to open Day 5 on Arthur AsheStadium.
"Sometimes you just have to trust your team and your warm-up, everything you've done for so long," Federer told Brad Gilbert of ESPN. "Maybe also Danny wasn't feeling it today. He played yesterday so maybe that was a competitive advantage for me. But I was able to play beautiful tennis today under a beautiful sky.
"I definitely think this is playing much faster than at night and even indoors. That's the key to winning here and staying around, to adjust to wind, heat and humidity. It makes the ball travel differently and I was able to manage it well."
Federer was the stronger player from the baseline, with his forehand ripping through the court in perfect, sunny conditions. He triumphed after a mere one hour and 19 minutes, launching 48 winners, including 10 aces. Moreover, Federer won 80 per cent of first serve points and 70 per cent on his second delivery.
“I had spoken to the team and we just said… We’re not going to overplay in the beginning. Take care of your serves. If he can smash winners, that's too good,” Federer said in his post-match press conference. “Over time, I got very comfortable and very confident. It's a good feeling to have after the last couple of matches.”
The five-time champion (2004-08) is into the Round of 16 for the 18th consecutive year. He has not missed the second week of the US Open since his debut appearance in 2000. Federer improved to 88-13 overall at Flushing Meadows.
"I think what matters the most for me is that I am in the [fourth] round, after those two slow starts. Give myself another opportunity to do better, and I did,” Federer said. “You almost tend to forget what happened and you move forward.”
Evans admitted that was outgunned and outclassed. "Obviously I didn't play my best today, but he got on top of me early and it was difficult. I guess he has every shot, so it's not ideal to have an opponent that has every shot.
"I think he won 92%, I saw on the board, of his first serves, and that's not good for me. So I just couldn't get in his games, and getting up on the serve, he returned well when I got my serve in. But no free points was tough, as well."
Federer was on the front foot from the start, breaking for 4-2 behind a sublime drop volley winner and a blasted backhand pass. Showtime Federer was in full flow, leaping for a spinning overhead smash in the next game. And he would streak to an early lead in the second set, breaking to love in the fourth game.
It was a clinical performance from the Basel native. A wayward approach from Evans gave Federer a break to open the third set, and while the Brit would draw level in the next game, it wasn't enough. The 38-year-old did not allow his opponent to establish any rhythm, eventually crossing the finish line with a service winner.
Federer, who qualified for a 17th Nitto ATP Finals with a first-round victory over Sumit Nagal, also prevailed in four sets in a second-round win over Damir Dzumhur. Against Evans, he improved to 3-0 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head, defeating the Brit at three of the four Grand Slams. He also triumphed at Wimbledon in 2016 and earlier this year at the Australian Open.
The World No. 3 will next face 15th seed David Goffin, who beat 2017 semi-finalist Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain 7-6(5), 7-6(9), 7-5. The Belgian hit 52 winners and won 76 per cent (19/25) of his trips to the net.
Goffin trails Federer 1-8 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series. Goffin recorded his lone victory two years ago during the semi-finals of the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals.