DCSIMG

US Open: Roger Federer serves up a simple win

Roger Federer was able to cope with the big serve of Sam Groth. Photograph: Robert Deutsch/USA Today

Roger Federer was able to cope with the big serve of Sam Groth. Photograph: Robert Deutsch/USA Today

  • by STEVE KEATING
 

Second seed Roger Federer served up a tidy 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 win over the big-hitting Australian Sam Groth to ease into the third round of the US Open and continue his march towards an 18th grand slam title.

Second seed Roger Federer served up a tidy 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 win over the big-hitting Australian Sam Groth to ease into the third round of the US Open and continue his march towards an 18th grand slam title.

Federer has feasted on Australian opponents in grand slams over the years, piling up an 18-1 record against men from Down Under, and Groth, who was facing a top-ten opponent for the first time, proved little more than a distraction to the Swiss maestro.

The burly Groth, who had a brief stint as an Australian Rules football player in 2011, stepped onto Arthur Ashe Stadium court looking ready for a fight but, in the end, could only wave the white flag as Federer closed out the match with an ace, sweeping through the final four games.

Throughout the one-hour-and-48-minute contest the Australian took his best shots at the 33-year-old, including booming serves of over 140mph.

“The 142, honestly I hit it and I turned around,” said Federer, who will next face Spain’s Marcel Granollers, a 7-6(6), 6-7(3), 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-4 winner over 25th seed Ivo Karlovic. “I didn’t know if it went into the stands or the bottom of the net or on the other side. I just felt like I hit it clean. “The 147 one I felt like I was there and felt like I had more control on it.

“The difference between 142 and 147, there’s none really in the racket. I think once you pass the 135 range, everything is just really fast.”

Federer, dressed all in black, took a few games to feel out his opponent before making the breakthrough to go 4-3 ahead, then held serve to take the first set. The second set opened with the two men trading breaks, with Federer again gaining the upper hand and breaking Groth a second time to go up 5-4 and serve out for a 2-0 lead.

The 26-year-old Australian said he had tried to focus on his own game and not get swept away by the crowd’s support for Federer.

“I was trying not to get caught up in the whole Roger act out there,” he said. “You walk out, you get a few cheers. He walks out and the crowd goes ballistic.

“So from the word go you know he’s there. I was honestly just trying to focus on what I was doing.

“He’s got an aura because of how good his tennis is. You don’t win 17 grand slams if your tennis is not that good. I knew I was playing Roger Federer.”

Groth, who watched compatriot Marinko Matosevic lose in straight sets to Federer in his opening match, dug deep in the third set, scratching out a 4-2 lead.

However, five-times champion Federer answered back with a break of his own and then raced through the next three games to seal the victory.

It was a good day for the big guns at Flushing Meadows, with the top ten men’s seeds remaining intact.

Fourth seed David Ferrer of Spain, sixth-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych and seventh-seeded Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov all advanced.

Ferrer reached the third round without lifting his racket when Australian Bernard Tomic withdrew with a hip injury, while Dimitrov breezed into the third round with a 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 win over Israel’s Dudi Sela.

Berdych had a much tougher time, needing five sets and three hours 45 minutes to tame Martin Klizan of Slovakia 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.

Richard Gasquet, seeded 12th, and Gael Monfils, 20th, advanced in straight sets to set up an all-French collision for a berth in the fourth round.

Working harder was 18th-seeded South African Kevin Anderson, a four-set winner against Jerzy Janowicz of Poland, while Spain’s 19th seed Feliciano Lopez won a fourth-set tiebreaker to advance past Japanese qualifier Tatsuma Ito.

The highest-ranked casualty in the men’s event was Ernests Gulbis of Latvia, the 11th seed, who was ousted by 45th-ranked Dominic Thiem of Austria 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3. For Thiem it was one of the best and one of the worst victories of his life.

The 20-year-old Austrian is among the most exciting young talents around and he made the last 32 at a grand slam for the first time by coming from two sets down to defeat Gulbis. But it was not a match he enjoyed because Gulbis is his training partner and mentor.

The pair share a coach in Gunter Bresnik and travel the world together. “I hated the situation,” said Thiem. “It’s something really, really special, it’s a really great win for me. It’s my first time coming back from two sets to zero, first time five sets. But I would prefer it against anybody else.”

Gulbis appeared to have the match in his grasp but struggled with cramp in the fourth and fifth sets.

He said: “A lot of my energy went on the mental part, the nerves that started before the match. Probably if I would play somebody else, I would be more relaxed.

“I thought that it’s not going to be so difficult, but mentally it was difficult. We were both really nervous throughout the match. We both played far from our best tennis.

“The level we play in practice is much higher than we did today. This was not a nice game. But he showed character, so it’s really good for him.”

 

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