The 26-year-old Spaniard was handed the unenviable task of trying to upset the 17-time grand slam winner on Arthur Ashe Stadium court, where the Swiss maestro has a dazzling 25-1 record under the Flushing Meadows floodlights.
It quickly became clear there would be no power shortage on Tuesday as Federer raced to a 5-1 lead in opening set then eased off the gas and coasted to an unflustered win in just under two hours.
“I felt like I had maybe some margin,” said Federer. “He hasn’t got the biggest game but he’s consistent. He’s fast. He can adapt. So he’s got things that can make you feel uncomfortable, I must say.
“He can absorb pace well. From that standpoint, even though I did feel I had margin because I never played him before, I was still pushing forward all along and trying to always keep a gap between him and me in terms of the result and the scoreline.”
Next up for Federer is a player he knows very well, 20th seeded Frenchman Gael Monfils, who was earlier a 7-5 7-6 (6) 7-5 winner over seventh seed Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria.
Federer and Monfils have clashed nine times with the Swiss holding a 7-2 advantage but the former world number one will be wary of the enigmatic Frenchman, who many rate as among the most gifted on the men’s tour.
While Federer holds a big edge in their head-to-head clashes, they have split their four most recent matches with the 17-time grand slam winner coming out on top in their most recent meeting just last month in Cincinnati.
“He’s got easy top 10 potential,” said Federer. “He’s a great mover. He’s got a wonderful serve, really, which nobody really talks about because of his athletic movement which stands out so much.
“His issues have really been just his fitness and his setbacks he’s had because of injury. Then sometimes maybe not wanting to play sometimes because of reasons only he can explain.
“I think I can speak on behalf of so many players: We love watching him play. It’s nice seeing him do well again. He’s going to rise in the rankings now, and maybe that’s exactly the stepping stones he needs to make it back in the top 10.”
(Editing by Nick Mulvenney)