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Roger Federer Heats Up on Court and Off

Roger Federer reached a breaking point at the United States Open on Friday. It did not happen on the court, where he played his best match of the tournament so far, blasting Dan Evans of Britain off the court just 80 minutes into their third-round encounter.

Nor was it related to his first two matches of the tournament, when Federer played poorly and had little explanation afterward.

What set him off on Friday and caused him to swear in a news conference, abandoning his usually impeccable decorum, was a suggestion that he is able to dictate the timing of his matches. He said he could only offer his preferences to the schedule makers.

“But that doesn’t mean, ‘Roger asks, Roger gets,’” Federer said, then added: “I’m sick and tired of it, that apparently I call the shots. The tournament and the TV stations do.”

Federer’s minor outburst was part of the lingering fallout from a rainy Wednesday when many matches were postponed, except those played in the two arenas with roofs, Arthur Ashe Stadium and Louis Armstrong Stadium. That included Federer’s second-round match against Damir Dzumhur.

Afterward, Federer acknowledged that his ability to play on Wednesday would give him an advantage in the next round because his opponent, who turned out to be Evans, would have to play Thursday while Federer could rest and recuperate for Friday’s match.

ImageCreditKarsten Moran for The New York Times

That advantage was borne out as the third-seeded Federer, 38, crushed Evans, 6-2, 6-2, 6-1, under brilliant sunshine in Ashe. The eighth-seeded Serena Williams, 37, also appeared to benefit from extra rest as she easily beat Karolina Muchova, 6-3, 6-2, on Friday.

Like Evans, Muchova had to play on Thursday after her match on Wednesday was rained out. But another day to prepare likely would not have made much difference. Williams has played terrific tennis this week and appears in top form.

Williams will play No. 22 Petra Martic of Croatia in the fourth round on Sunday. Martic took a 6-4, 6-3 victory in her Friday match against Anastasija Sevastova — who lost to Williams in a U.S. Open semifinal last year.

Another of the 22 players who were forced to compete on consecutive days was Alex de Minaur, who scored the upset of the day with a 6-2, 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 victory over No. 7 Kei Nishikori, a finalist at the 2014 U.S. Open. By beating a top-10 opponent for the first time, de Minaur, 20, advanced to the fourth round of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time.

Evans is 29, and he had more issues with the tight scheduling, explaining that he left the grounds at 6 p.m. on Thursday and was still tired and stiff on Friday. He added that having to play again at noon meant little time to recover.

“But that wouldn’t be the first time the higher-ranked player has had pull, so to speak,” Evans said. “But also, these guys, the tournament, obviously want Roger. They would rather Roger be going through that match than me, so it’s understandable, yeah.”

Last year, the French player Julien Benneteau, said in a radio interview that Federer has undue influence over scheduling, including at the U.S. Open. Benneteau claimed that Federer’s representatives had demanded that their client not play in the debut of the rebuilt Armstrong Stadium, but U.S. Open officials denied it and said they had always planned to have Federer, Williams and Rafael Nadal play all their matches in Ashe, the premier stadium.

2019 U.S. Open: Highlights From FridayAug. 30, 2019

The daily schedule is made by tournament officials with input from the television networks, including ESPN at the U.S. Open. Some of the top players are consulted.

“That’s tennis,” Federer said. “It’s entertainment, and the show must go on. I’ve lost maybe matches this way. I’ve won some this time. Luck was on my side. There you have it. So, yeah, I understand if Danny is, like, a little bit frustrated.”

Federer, who will play No. 15 David Goffin, of Belgium, in the fourth round, is not known to use expletives during his interviews, as he did on Friday after a reporter questioned the scheduling situation. Federer said that his team may have asked for a day match, although he was not certain.

“We can give our opinion,” he said. “That’s what we do. But I’m still going to walk out even if they schedule me at 4 in the morning.”

More important for Federer was how he played in comparison with his first two matches. This time he was in complete command, and that could not be attributed solely to Evans’s fatigue. Federer won 80 percent of the points on his first serve, double-faulted only once and hit 48 winners to account for 87 points won.

“I think what matters the most for me is that I am in the third round, after all, after those two sort of slow starts,” he said. “I gave myself another opportunity to do better, and I did. You almost tend to forget what happened and you move forward.”

In a late match, Novak Djokovic shook off the effects of a sore left shoulder to beat unseeded Denis Kudla, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.

“I managed to play almost pain free,” Djokovic said in an on-court interview after the win. “That’s a big improvement from last match.”

Djokovic, the No. 1 men’s seed and the defending champion, was hampered by the injury during his previous win, over Juan Ignacio Londero. But he appeared fit and focused on Friday.

His fourth-round opponent will be Stan Wawrinka, the 23rd seed, who beat Paolo Lorenzi of Italy, 6-4, 7-6 (9), 7-6 (4).


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