Roger Federer buried another of last year’s ghosts by defeating Roberto Bautista Agut to reach the quarter-finals of the US Open.
Twelve months ago, the 17-time grand slam champion was a shadow of himself in a straight-sets loss to Tommy Robredo in the fourth round.
He has turned his form around impressively this year and against another Spaniard a repeat never looked on the cards.
Federer was not quite at his brilliant best and allowed Bautista Agut to claw his way back from 5-1 to 5-4 in the opening set.
But he kept his nose in front throughout and emerged a 6-4 6-3 6-2 winner to set up a last-eight meeting with Gael Monfils.
Federer said: “It was difficult, we both had to adjust to the wind. I’m always happy when I get through these type of matches. I’d never played Bautista Agut before and it was tough. I’m happy I was able to control the match out there tonight.”
Federer and Monfils have had plenty of tight battles, although the Swiss has won seven of their previous nine matches.
He said: “The good thing for both of us is we just played in Cincinnati. It was a really tough match. He’s been playing some really good tennis here. He’s one of the most entertaining and exciting players out there.”
Monfils upset Grigor Dimitrov in unexpectedly comprehensive fashion to reach his second US Open quarter-final.
It was the best match-up of the fourth round in the bottom half of the draw but seventh seed Dimitrov was off his game and went down 7-5 7-6 (8/6) 7-5.
Monfils is one of the most enigmatic characters on tour and infuriates as much as he entertains with his frequent inability to turn talent into results.
But for most of Tuesday’s match, which was played in high humidity, he was calm and controlled, allowing Dimitrov to implode under the weight of expectation.
The Frenchman saw an early break slip away in the second set and had a brief meltdown but it was Dimitrov who collapsed in the tie-break, four errors from 6-4 handing the set to Monfils.
And when he served to stay in the match in the 12th game of the third, Dimitrov again faltered, finishing the contest with a meek double fault.
The Frenchman, who is yet to drop a set, lost to Novak Djokovic in his only previous quarter-final here in 2010 while he also reached the last eight at the French Open this year.
Monfils said: “I’m happy because I played good. I think I played solid. I hit the ball better day after day, I served better. I keep simple things in my head, so obviously it is working.”
The Frenchman, who turned 28 on Monday, has been without a coach for the past 18 months.
“It’s better to have someone to help you,” he said. “I need it, but it’s not easy. That person has to be good, first of all, but has to be hard and also understand my personality. Because I don’t think I’m easy, but I think I’m quite a good worker.”
Dimitrov had been seeded to meet Federer in what would have been a first grand slam meeting between the 17-time grand slam champion and the man nicknamed ’Baby Fed’.
The Bulgarian offered no excuses, saying: “It was a very poor match for me. I didn’t play close to the way I wanted to, and I think it was a great stage for me to come out on there on the centre court and perform my best.
“Just everything went the opposite way today. I don’t have to be too down for that. Of course I have to give credit to Gael that he played a really good match, but I also did a lot of unforced errors and that cost me a lot.”
Fourteenth seed Marin Cilic reached his second straight grand slam quarter-final with a gruelling 5-7 7-6 (7/3) 6-4 3-6 6-3 victory over Gilles Simon.
The Croatian, who missed last year’s tournament following a positive doping test, had never beaten Simon in four previous attempts and celebrated exuberantly at the end.
Cilic said: “It’s amazing and really important. I knew Gilles would not go away that easily. All of our matches were very close but eventually he was always winning.”
He next plays sixth seed Tomas Berdych, who ended the run of 20-year-old Austrian Dominic Thiem in brutal fashion, winning 6-1 6-2 6-4.