A lot of questions remain unanswered regarding Federer’s form and fitness this US Open. After a back injury flared up two weeks ago in the Montreal Final, he pulled out of Cinncinatti where he is usually dominant, and struggled against the talented up and coming Tiafoe in the first round, and the veteran and two-time Open Semi-finalist Youzhny, being stretched by both to five sets in the first two rounds.
Although the Swiss has stated his back is better, citing lack of practice being as much a reason for these scrappy wins as anything, he has looked tentative during spells with his movement.
Lopez will prove a dangerous opponent for Roger. The Spaniard seems to be drinking from the fountain of youth, and has been in reasonable form this year, securing his biggest title on the grass at Queens Club. He possesses one of the best serves on tour, and volleys well, both a great asset on the medium-quick courts at Flushing Meadows.
Although this will be the highest ranked opponent Federer will face thus-far, I think his last two presented problems that Lopez will not, namely that both hit big ground strokes off both wings, able to move Federer about and exacerbating any lingering movement problems. Aside from his killer serve, which will no doubt contribute to many of his own free points, Lopez almost exclusively slices his backhand, and his forehand, whilst solid, is more accurate than solid. Federer will thus be under little pressure when Lopez is returning his serve, and during neutral rallies will be able to target Lopez’ backhand side and attack consistently.
Not an easy opponent, but I predict Federer will prevail in four sets