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Federer holds on to avoid major upset at US Open
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NEW YORK (AP) _ Poor Roger Federer. All these years of dominating the tennis world, and he was missing out on the fun of riveting five-set matches.
Federer wasn't actually complaining about the dearth of drama, but he insisted he found joy - not disappointment - in being pushed to the limit by 23rd-seeded Igor Andreev on Tuesday in the fourth round of the U.S. Open.
The four-time defending champ won 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.
"They're fun when you play them," Federer said of going the distance. "Sometimes, of course, they're hard physically and mentally, and the pressure is huge on me, because Igor doesn't have a whole lot to lose. For me it's way worse, so I'm very happy with the way we competed tonight."
He noted it was the first time he played a five-setter straight through at Arthur Ashe Stadium, with its boisterous crowd. In 2004, he knocked off Andre Agassi in the quarterfinals in a match split over two days because of rain. Federer went on to win his first Open title.
"I mean, it's why you practice hard, that you play good when it's crunch time," he said. "I'm happy with the way I played today when the pressure was the highest, and the crowd gives you that feeling of going crazy a little bit."
His yelling, fist-pumping and grinning after clinching the final point comprised the kind of celebration usually reserved for Grand Slam titles. He's got 12 of those, two shy of Pete Sampras' career mark. And Federer has now won 31 consecutive matches at the U.S. Open.
Not feeling quite so energized after his five-set match was No. 3 Novak Djokovic. He survived No. 15 Tommy Robredo of Spain by a score of 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 5-7, 6-3. Djokovic was bothered at various points by his stomach, his hip, his right ankle and breathing problems.
"If we start talking about things that are bothering me, as I said on the court, we'll chat for a long time," he said. "It's better I skip all these things and leave it behind."
Djokovic figured his quarterfinal opponent would be less fatigued, and that certainly should be true after Andy Roddick needed just 87 minutes to beat No. 11 Fernando Gonzalez of Chile.
Roddick, the No. 8 seed, lost only nine points on his serve. He wasn't buying the argument that he'd have an advantage over Djokovic.
"He's also had a much better year to this point," Roddick said. "It's a matter of if you want to look back 10 days or 10 months."
On the women's side, second-seeded Jelena Jankovic and No. 5 Elena Dementieva won their quarterfinal matches in straight sets.
Federer will face a much bigger underdog than Andreev in the quarterfinals. His opponent is 130th-ranked Gilles Muller of Luxembourg, only the second qualifier to advance this far in the Open era.
Muller knocked off No. 5 Nikolay Davydenko 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (10). Muller has posted big upsets before, though much earlier in tournaments.
In 2005, he beat Rafael Nadal in the second round at Wimbledon and Roddick in the first round at the U.S. Open when each was ranked third.
"He didn't beat Andy for nothing here a few years ago," Federer said. "That's why I definitely won't underestimate him, because he's a good player."
A sure thing for so long, Federer's matches now carry an air of uncertainty. He advances in the Open still seeking his first Grand Slam title of the year.
He refused to characterize Tuesday's 31⁄2-hour marathon as a sign of decline. Federer sounded like somebody who's not familiar with tennis describing a trip to the Open: educational, and an enjoyable change of pace.
"I was really happy because in five sets you go through different stages of feelings, of playing well, playing bad," Federer said. "In the fifth set you try not to make that many errors, and hopefully you'll get off on a good start. That's exactly what happened."

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