New York: Top-seeded Federer faced only a single break point in his 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 victory over No. 25 Fernando Verdasco on Saturday and won it with the longest point of the match - a 20-stroke rally he captured by moving Verdasco back and forth on the baseline until the Spaniard finally sprayed a forehand wide.
The rest of the time, Verdasco found Federer doing 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.
``I really tried to play offensive against ... Phau in my second match,`` Federer said. ``I did lose more points than I was hoping to. But I think that gave me the confidence to move forward today. And conditions helped that because it was quicker during the day.``
Indeed, the wind and the quicker surface put more pressure on Verdasco, a baseliner who had trouble getting the ball past Federer. It was hard for him to get comfortable against the 17-time Grand Slam champion, who got 67 percent of his first serves in, many at tough angles that drove Verdasco off the side of the court.
``He served well the whole match,`` Verdasco said. ``He always has great control close to the lines with his serve.``
Federer, who hasn`t lost a set through three matches over the first week at the U.S. Open, stayed on course for a semifinal meeting against No. 3 Andy Murray.