Federer Shaky, Roddick Impressive in Comeback at US Open
World No. 2 Roger Federer advanced in a very un-Federer-like performance Friday at the US Open, defeating Brazil’s Thiago Alves 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 in a match lacking the Swiss’ usual crisp movement and ball striking, and including a generous 46 unforced errors.
“He did well to scramble back quite a few balls,” Federer said. “But I wasn’t comfortable at net from the start. It just made it hard. And they be in the second set when it got tough, he dug out some shots and everything seemed to go against me on those break points. So it was kind of difficult mentally, but it was actually fun playing this well and really got the crowd into it. I was never really in danger, so it was actually pretty good for me. I knew the longer the match would go the more tired he would get, so it was a good match for me.”
World No. 3 Novak Djokovic needed no such spin on his performance Friday, fending off a dangerous aggressive performance from American Robert Kendrick 7-6(8), 6-4, 6-4.
“I kind of knew that before the match he’s going to go for his shots, because we played one time before, and I know him from a couple of years already, but he served really precise, and really, really strong,” Djokovic said. “So it was very difficult for me to get any rhythm on my return.”
In the featured night match, Andy Roddick turned around a thrashing he was receiving at the hands of Ernests Gulbis, winning 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 7-5 to advance. Gulbis was serving at 6-3, 5-2 before Roddick won five straight games to even the match at one-set all, taking charge with the support of a rowdy New York crowd.
“This is one of those I won just by effort by sticking around,” Roddick said. “I have to thank the crowd for that one.”
Roddick advances to face Italian Andreas Seppi.
Other seeded winners Friday were (5) Nikolay Davydenko (d. Agustin Calleri), (11) Fernando Gonzalez (d. Bobby Reynolds), (13) Fernando Verdasco (d. Rui Machado 6-0 in the fifth), (15) Tommy Robredo (d. Marat Safin 6-0 in the fourth), (18) Nicolas Almagro (d. Sam Warburg), (19) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (d. Carlos Moya in four), (23) Igor Andreev (d. Jeremy Chardy), (26) Dmitry Tursunov (d. Victor Hanescu in four), (28) Radek Stepanek (d. Chris Guccione in four), (30) Marin Cilic (d. Robby Ginepri in four), and (31) Seppi (d. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in four).
In all-unseeded play, Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller ousted former world No. 2 Tommy Haas from two sets down, and Finn Jarkko Nieminen outlasted Ivo Minar from two sets down.
Matches to look for Saturday include (1) Rafael Nadal vs. Viktor Troicki, (9) James Blake vs. Mardy Fish, (14) Ivo Karlovic vs. Sam Querrey, (7) David Nalbandian vs. (32) Gael “Force” Monfils, (4) David Ferrer vs. Kei Nishikori, (6) Andy Murray vs. Jurgen Melzer, and US Open Series title winners (16) Gilles Simon vs. (17) Juan Martin Del Potro.
Davenport Likely Exits US Open for Last Time
Only eight matches were played Friday at the US Open on the women’s side, but there was no lack of drama on Day 5 in Flushing Meadows.
Lindsay Davenport was the featured night match, and the former No. 1-ranked American exited in what was most certainly her last US Open appearance 6-1, 7-6(3) to France’s No. 12-seeded two-handed slugger Marion Bartoli.
At 4-5 down in the second Davenport broke back, but double faulted three times in a row to start her 5-5 game. She fought back to deuce, but then again double faulted to lose the game. Davenport then broke to force a tiebreak, but a doubles fault on the first point forecast an eventual 7-3 tiebreak loss. Thirty-three unforced errors and eight double faults were part of the American’s undoing.
“I gave myself a chance out there, but once my serve kind of left me, I felt like I didn’t have a lot of confidence to go up after it and I think that translated into my groundies in the tiebreak,” Davenport said. “My game’s not about just making balls in or getting serves in, and I felt like that’s what I had to do.”
In her last singles event, Davenport withdrew with a bad knee that many thought would keep her out of the US Open. Was Davenport thinking about this being her last US Open as she left the court?
“No, I was so pissed off that I didn’t think about anything,” Davenport said.
This week Roger Federer commented that the main courts have the best linespeople and don’t really need the Hawkeye video replay, but both Davenport and Bartoli frequently challenged line calls that were overturned during the match.
World No. 2 Jelena Jankovic, in prime position to take over the No. 1 ranking after the early exit of Ana Ivanovic, rebounded from a shaky earlier performance to scrap like a champion in a tight 7-5, 7-5 victory over China’s Jie Zheng.
“She’s a very solid player and moves well on the court,” Jankovic said of Zheng. “She doesn’t give you many free points, so she’s really out there until the end. So really, if you want to beat her, you really have to beat her until the end. She’s not going to give up any time.”
World No. 3 Svetlana Kuznetsova, a former US Open winner, was one of the handful of players in the running for the No. 1 ranking during this US Open. But the Russian, not known for coming through in pressure situations, in addition had a bad match-up against No. 28 seed Katarina Srebotnik who was the victor 6-3, 6-7(1), 6-3.
“I had to go for it more and I was overdoing it,” said Kuznetsova, who also took time out to lambaste the press for distorting the message of players that are ‘too open’ with the media. “I couldn’t find the middle point. I was hitting far away, I was missing. I think she played her top game for me, like she played unbelievable. I still had chances not playing my game, but I was fighting, and I wanted so much to win that match.” In their last meeting Kuznetsova had escaped with a third-set tiebreak win.
Other seeded winners on the day were (5) Elena Dementieva (d. Anne Keothavong), (21) Caroline Wozniacki (d. Victoria Azarenka), (15) Patty Schnyder (d. Magdalena Rybarikova), and (29) Sybille Bammer (d. Tatiana Perebiynis, bagel in the second).
On tap for Saturday in Flushing Meadows matches to watch are (7) Venus Williams vs. Alona Bondarenko, (4) Serena Williams vs. Ai Sugiyama, (32) Amelie Mauresmo vs. Ivanovic-killer Julie Coin in an all-French, (6) Dinara Safina vs. Timea Bacsinszky, and (16) Flavia Pennetta vs. (19) Nadia Petrova.
TENNIS-X NEWS, NOTES, QUOTES AND BARBS
COIN FOR YOUR THOUGHTS: France’s Julie Coin, after upsetting world No. 1 Ana Ivanovic, on what brought her to the U.S. to play for Clemson and try the pro tour: “Well, at that time, my, boyfriend told me like he wanted to go, and I was just like in university in France and practicing maybe three times a week. I had a good French ranking but I wasn’t doing really anything. So he told me that and I was like, oh, why not. I will practice every day and see like kind of what’s the — like what the professionals do except that they don’t go school. I liked it and I improved my level too there. So I decided after my last year I finished second in NCAA, so I thought maybe I have the level to play on the tour. My parents told me, yeah, you should try. Because they were good — they were playing in another sport but they were good at their sport and never got the chance to do it. So they kind of pushed me to do it I guess. Now it’s like I’m happy.”
RODDICK SKIPPING FISH WEDDING?: Mardy Fish on his upcoming nuptials and if any other athletes will be involved besides James Blake: “Tiger Woods is my best man. No, I’m kidding. That would be cool, eh? No, it’s in late September in Los Angeles. Stacy’s from LA. Mr. Roddick is in it, as well. However, I think he’s going over to Asia to play, so he’s not going to be able to make it. James’ brother, as well, Thomas, is in the wedding, too. I think that’s about it as far as athletes.”
FATIGUE FACTOR: Roger Federer on possible fatigue from his bout with mono still hampering his game: “Mmm, I mean, the fatigue, honestly, I’ve had it many times through my career, so I never look at it as, ‘Is it back,’ you know, something like this. I never really looked at it in this way. I mean, I was so tired after Beijing coming here, and then of course I’m a bit worried. But then I look back, maybe two years back, prior to Wimbledon I couldn’t move for a week. I still was able to win Wimbledon after that. Once the tournament gets underway you find energy somewhere, you know. So this is not the first time it happened, and so I don’t put it down as my sickness, you know. Maybe I put it down as sickness when I still feel a little bit slow sometimes. These are the moments when I might think, you know, this is maybe lack of practice still a little bit. But with recuperation I never really feel like I have a problem to recover, which is a good thing.”
MISC: Juan Martin del Potro has won 21 straight matches…At 18, Kei Nishikori is the youngest player left in the draw…What is the over/under on drop shots in the Murray/Melzer match…Rafael Nadal has won 40 of his last 41 matches…Rafael Nadal has more hard court wins (36) than anyone else on tour this year…David Ferrer has already won more hard court matches at the US Open (2) than he did all summer (1)…Sam Querrey has won two of three meetings with Ivo Karlovic…Serena Williams on losing: “I always believe the match is on my racquet. I think every time I lose is because of me, not because of the other person. So I think that’s pretty much dominance.”…James Blake presented a check for $10K to USTA Serves and the Harlem Junior Tennis & Education Program on behalf of his sponsor Evian…American Ashley Harkleroad is reportedly pregnant by her coach/boyfriend Chuck Adams…Roger Federer won his 600th career match Friday…Former ATP employee Craig Gabriel writing on his ‘most hated’ player, Vince Spadea: “American Vince (he has asked to be called Vincent) Spadea tries to be cool and when he talks it sounds like he took a masters degree in word slurring. In the first round of the US Open he lost to Marat Safin in five sets. Talk about a clash and contrast of personalities. Safin is one of the characters of tennis and by comparison on a scale of one to ten, Spadea would owe the scale 15 points. I often wonder when the 34-year-old from Boca Raton, Florida, will retire. It was only a couple of years ago that his parents stopped travelling weekly with him and the three of them would share the same hotel room. His parents never met a free buffet they didn’t like. One colleague joked: “They would come to tournaments to graze.”
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