Saturday’s night session began with the oldest match-up at the US Open since 40-year-old Jimmy Connors played 32-year-old Ivan Lendl in 1992.
Federer looked sharp, showing no sign of the back issue that disrupted his build-up to the tournament, and had been in his thoughts during his first-round match in New York.
The timing that was still absent in round two had returned for the most part – with just four backhand errors – and, one poor service game in the third set apart, he dispatched 13th seed Lopez efficiently.
“I needed to get over the fear of the back issue, especially in that first match, the first set,” said Federer. “Then I think the wobble I had in the second round was due to my preparation.
“I think now I’m just trusting my movement better. My serve is there. My mind is there. I can finally focus on playing tennis and not so much about the past.”
Early pressure told with a break in game six and the first set followed after just 25 minutes.
With almost 80% of the points played in under four strokes, it suited the attacking, first-strike intent that has marked Federer’s game during this stellar year.