NEW YORK - His strokes awry, his emotions laid bare for all to see, Roger Federer figured out a way to stay in the U.S. Open.
Federer found himself locked in a five-set struggle against the sort of player the world is accustomed to seeing him dismiss with ease, and it was only down the stretch that the four-time defending champion at Flushing Meadows looked the part.
Avoiding as big an upset as tennis has seen in a while, Federer came back to beat 23rd-seeded Igor Andreev of Russia 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 Tuesday night to reach the quarterfinals at the year's last Grand Slam tournament.
When Federer finished the match with a forehand winner, he shook his fists violently and yelled, then a flashed a grin toward his girlfriend and others in the player guest box.
Hard to recall the last time this guy was so pleased by a mere fourth-round victory. This is, after all, a man who owns 12 Grand Slam titles, two shy of Pete Sampras' career mark. A man who has won 31 consecutive matches at the U.S. Open. A man who is trying to extend his record streak of 17 straight appearances in major semifinals.
And yet, because of how tough this was, Federer couldn't stop smiling at the end of the 31/2-hour test.