World number one Roger Federer has had all the testing he wants heading into the US Open quarterfinals even if next opponent Andy Roddick cannot say the same.
The 26-year-old Swiss star, battling for a 12th Grand Slam title and fourth US Open crown in a row, beat Spain's Feliciano Lopez 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-4 on Monday to reach a rematch of last year's US Open final against US fifth seed Roddick.
Federer, who also dropped his first set against US giant John Isner in the third round, could have done very well without another challenge from 60th-ranked Lopez, whom he has beaten in all five career meetings.
"I thought I was pushed against Isner. I really didn't need another match," Federer said. "When you do lose a set you start to wonder, 'Maybe this is the night it's not going to work out for me.'"
Lopez, Federer's first foe of the fortnight ranked above 120th, said there is a huge gap between the rest of the best and the man at the top.
"Everything, the way he hits the ball and the way he moves, it's special," Lopez said. "Everybody plays good tennis in the world, but compared to Roger, something is missing."
What has been missing for Roddick are victories. The only one he managed was in a 2003 Montreal semifinal. He has lost nine ATP matches in a row to Federer including an Australian Open semifinal in January and last year's final at the Flushing Meadows.
"I hope I'm going to win but I don't expect myself to win. I know the danger of Andy," Federer said.
"I've had some difficult quarterfinal matches over the years. I'm in great shape and moving great. Mentally I'm doing well. I'm ready for a great match."
Roddick has never met Federer so early in a Slam and not in any event since 2001 and 2002 in Basel on Federer's home soil.
"You feel the extra weight of most big matches. That's just the way it is," Roddick said. "But I'm excited. I expect a lot of myself. I don't think anybody else really expects much from me. I'm excited about the opportunity."
Roddick, coached by five-time US Open winner Jimmy Connors, has won two of his four matches this week on retirements, playing only an hour Monday before Czech ninth seed Tomas Berdych quit and sent Roddick to practice for an hour.
"I haven't been tested much this tournament so far. I haven't really played a long extended match," Roddick said. "This is a lot better than being dead tired. Given the two options, I'll take this one."
Two retirements could disrupt Roddick's mental readiness for Federer, but then again, maybe not.
"You could say I could be fresh mentally or maybe I haven't been freaking out enough over the past two weeks," Roddick said. It's kind of out of my hands. I'm going to just focus on the task at hand."
Roddick has his plans for defeating the Swiss maestro, provided Federer gives him a chance to use them.
"Strategy matters but you have to have your strategy and then you have to be able to execute it," Roddick said.
"A big thing against Roger is making sure you get something on your approach shot. If he is set he is going to take a swing at it and he's going to hit it more often than not."
No US man has won a Slam since the 2003 US Open triumph by Roddick some 16 Slams ago. The longest US men's Slam drought is the 17 between John McEnroe's 1984 US Open victory and Michael Chang's 1989 French Open crown.