Twelve months ago, the 17-time Grand Slam champion was a shadow of himself in a straight-sets loss to Tommy Robredo in the fourth round. He has turned his form around impressively this year and against another Spaniard a repeat never looked on the cards.
Federer was not quite at his brilliant best and allowed Bautista Agut to claw his way back from 5-1 to 5-4 in the opening set, on Tuesday night. But he kept his nose in front throughout and emerged a 6-4 6-3 6-2 winner to set up a last-eight meeting with Gael Monfils.
Federer said: “It was difficult, we both had to adjust to the wind. I’m always happy when I get through these type of matches. I’d never played Bautista Agut before and it was tough. I’m happy I was able to control the match out there tonight.”
Federer and Monfils have had plenty of tight battles, although the Swiss has won seven of their previous nine matches. He said: “The good thing for both of us is we just played in Cincinnati. It was a really tough match. He’s been playing some really good tennis here. He’s one of the most entertaining and exciting players out there.”
Meanwhile, 14th seed Marin Cilic reached his second straight Grand Slam quarter-final with a gruelling 5-7 7-6 (7/3) 6-4 3-6 6-3 victory over Gilles Simon. The Croatian, who missed last year’s tournament following a positive doping test, had never beaten Simon in four previous attempts and celebrated exuberantly at the end.
Cilic said: “It’s amazing and really important. I knew Gilles would not go away that easily. All of our matches were very close but eventually he was always winning.” He next plays sixth seed Tomas Berdych, who ended the run of 20-year-old Austrian Dominic Thiem in brutal fashion, winning 6-1 6-2 6-4.