Roger Federer overcame a third-round blip to beat Spain’s David Ferrer in three sets and reach the quarter-finals of the Rogers Cup in Montreal.
The Australian Open and Wimbledon champion trailed for over an hour against his dogged opponent before clawing his way back to record a 4-6 6-4 6-2 victory in an hour and 56 minutes.
For large spells of the match, the Swiss appeared unusually frustrated, as his first serve dwindled and his much-improved backhand regularly misfired.
However, as great champions usually do, the Swiss improved as the match went on and found a way to win.
He’ll now meet another Spaniard, Roberto Bautista Agut, in the last eight.
Ferrer dominates from the baseline
Federer had dominated the pair’s previous meetings, winning all 16 of them while dropping just six sets to the Spaniard.
Going by that stat, Ferrer’s chances were extremely slim, however the Spaniard - who dropped out of the world’s top 30 for the first time since 2005 earlier this year - has appeared rejuvenated in recent weeks after winning an ATP 250 title in Bastad last month.
Ferrer had also come through two tough matches at this event, beating Britain’s Kyle Edmund and world number 17 Jack Sock, and he applied immediate pressure on Federer from the off.
Federer served two double faults in his opening service game but still managed to save three break points to fend off his bullish opponent.
Two games later, though, Ferrer took his chance, converting his seventh break point in the fourth game before racing into a 5-2 lead.
Ferrer’s timing from the back of the court was like clockwork in the opening set, as he stepped up onto the baseline and took the match to Federer.
The Spaniard couldn’t serve out the set at the first attempt, however he quickly reapplied the pressure to break Federer again and win the opener in 49 minutes.
Federer struggles on serve but finds a way through
Federer took an early lead at the start of the second set, but a loose game – which finished with a missed smash and a double fault- allowed Ferrer to draw level.
Things started to come together for the Swiss midway through the second set, however he was still forced to save two break points when serving at 5-4, before drawing level at a set apiece.
After a loose service game at the start of the decider, Ferrer’s challenge began to fade.
Federer finally began to hit his spots on serve, while tightening up his game from the back of the court.
Perhaps it was understandable that the Swiss maestro was a little rusty on this occasion, for this was only his second competitive match since winning an unprecedented eighth Wimbledon.
Even so, he will need to improve if he is to win a third title at this event and continue his supremely impressive year.