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Roger Federer surged into the third round of the Cincinnati Masters with a straight sets victory over Juan Martin del Potro.
The Swiss star, who turned 30 earlier this month, won 6-3 7-5 - his first win over the Argentine after three straight defeats, including the 2009 US Open final.
“I played some tough matches against him in the past and obviously the US Open final sticks out the most,” Federer said. “I told him at the net that it was good to see him back.”
Federer hit 12 aces and won 83 per cent of his first-serve points, but admitted: “There was a lot of pressure. I haven’t played much so this was a big match for me.
“I mixed it up well with slices and strong forehands and I was able to retrieve well today.”Climbing back
Del Potro, who upset Federer in five sets in the 2009 US Open final, is climbing back up the rankings after missing much of 2010 with a wrist injury.
“We can’t compare the 2009 match and this one,” del Potro said. “I feel well tonight, but Roger played like No. 1 in the world. He was very confident with his serve.”
Roger Federer has described his defeat to Juan Martin del Potro as ‘one of the biggest losses in my career’. As he looked ahead to an opening round meeting with the Argentine at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, Federer reflected on a painful defeat in the 2009 US Open final when he was within two points of victory, and also on his loss to del Potro in their most recent match at the 2009 Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.
“I thought both matches were really good. They were both very close,” said the World No. 3. “There was a lot on the line in both matches, qualifying for the semis in the World Tour Finals. And then US Open obviously having all the chances, it was a tough one to lose, definitely one of the bigger losses in my career, I think, because I really think it shouldn’t have gone away.”
Federer acknowledged that since those two meetings, del Potro had gone through a ‘rough patch’, undergoing wrist surgery in 2010 and being limited to just three tournaments that year. Meanwhile, the Swiss won five titles from nine finals during del Potro’s injury-marred season, including triumphs at the Australian Open and Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.
This season, they have similar records - Federer entering the second-round clash with a 40-10 mark and one title, del Potro with a 38-12 match record and two titles.
“It’s been different roads, but here we are,” said Federer, the two-time defending Cincinnati champion. “In the first round it’s obviously unusual to play such a good player in the first round, but we’re going to try to be as ready as we can be.”
Federer is looking for a much-needed title, currently mired in a seven-month title drought since winning Doha in the opening week of the season. He has reached two other finals since at Dubai and Roland Garros.
“I am obviously aware when things are going better or so so,” admitted the 30 year old. “I think you have to be aware of those moments. It’s no good to have illusions so you can tell yourself, Nah, you’re playing great, but you’re actually not, or you’re playing badly but you’re actually playing well. I think I’m obviously aware of where my game is at.
“It maybe doesn’t look like I’m making changes, but I’m definitely making adjustments… For me, I think it’s tweaking little things here and there in a match when it’s not going so well. If it’s not working, then you have practice to go back to and get ready for more. That’s my approach, really.”
He even opened the door to the possibility of changing his racquet. “Should I change racquet head size? Should I change strings? It’s always something that is in my mind. Why not use the great technology they have instead of just saying, I’m so happy with what I have; don’t even talk to me.”
Federer stated that while he felt pressure coming into this ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament as the defending champion, he also drew confidence from his previous success in Cincinnati, where he has won four titles.
“It’s nice coming back to a place where you did play well,” he said. “That gives you confidence, even though I haven’t played a lot the last few weeks and months. You can draw from the year before and the year before that maybe even where you remember you played so well here. Crowds kind of like to see you here.
“All these things can have a positive effect on your game. But important is to get through that first round. This is not just a simple first round.”
The victory marked Tsonga’s second straight win against the Swiss; he rallied from two sets down to hand Federer his first Grand Slam loss with a two-sets-to-love lead in the Wimbledon quarter-finals.
Tsonga defeated Federer in the quarter-finals two years ago at the Rogers Cup in a surprising comeback, as Federer blew a 5-1 third set lead to fall 7-6(5), 1-6, 7-6(3). Federer said he lost the match just as much as the Frenchman won it. But the 17-time ATP World Tour Masters 1000 champion felt differently in defeat Thursday, praising Tsonga’s play and execution. “Two years ago he didn’t really deserve the victory. I believe he played a lot better today, and he deserved it today,” assessed Federer.
“Two years ago I think he was lucky to pull out the win. Tonight he played well and he played extraordinary shots as we know he can do. I was not able to do that.”
Federer says he wasn’t shocked by Thursday’s result, given his recent loss to Tsonga at the All England Club. “He beat me at Wimbledon… so I don’t know how much of a surprise it is,” said Federer. “He’s playing well. I thought if he was going to play well again, me not at my best, he could do it again. It’s not like he’s beating me the first time.”
The Swiss is keeping his focus short term, and will practise again in Montreal before heading to the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, where he is the defending champion. “For the time being, the focus is here, not elsewhere,” Federer said.
“I played two matches. I feel good physically. New York is in one month. It’s far away. If you want to talk about the US Open, I can tell you I feel good mentally and I’m playing well, if that’s the goal for everybody else, but it’s not mine right now.”
Federer is still looking for his second tile of the year, after starting his season by winning the ATP World Tour 250 event in Doha (d. Davydenko).
here have been a couple of memorable matches between Roger Federer and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the past little while. Say Wimbledon, earlier this year. Tsonga came back from two sets down to record a thrilling five-set victory over Federer. Or the Rogers Cup two years ago, when Federer had Tsonga on the ropes, up 5-1 in the final set, only to lose the match in a tie-breaker.
But this? Nothing like this. This will be memorable for all the wrong reasons.
In third-round action of the Rogers Cup action Thursday night, Tsonga and Federer split two close sets and then the bottom fell out on the Swiss star and No. 3 tournament seed in the deciding set. Tsonga won the first five games of the third set and eventually knocked Federer, a two-time champion, out of the tournament with a 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-1 victory.
The capacity crowd tried to cheer on Federer in the third set, but Tsonga’s level was too high. On a cool night, Tsonga broke Federer’s serve in the second and fourth games of the final set and for a time there, it wasn’t even certain if the Swiss great would get a game.
In the end, the powerful Frenchman served out the match in routine fashion. Tsonga, the 13th seed, will now meet Spain’s Nicolas Almagro in the quarter finals. Almagro knocked off France’s Richard Gasquet in the other evening match by a 7-6, 6-3 count.
For Federer, it marked yet another disappointing loss in a year in which he has won just a single title – in Doha at the start of the year. The only other time this season that he didn’t reach at least the quarter-finals in a tournament came in Rome in May when Federer lost in the third round to Gasquet.
Guess Nadal wants to follow Andy Murray’s footsteps and exit the Rogers Cup….well, thats fine with me
Pospisil tough, Federer tougher
On Wednesday, it took Roger Federer of Switzerland 1:17 to defeat his courageous rival Vasek Pospisil of Canada in two sets of 7-5 and 6-3.
There were only two break chances in the entire match � one in each set. Federer, a 16-time Grand Slam champion, was able to capitalize on both.
Pospisil held on until 5-6 in the first set, right before Federer caught his first break point.
In the second set, Federer broke Pospisil early on and then coasted to victory. But in the end, the Swiss had only good things to say about the young Canadians serve.
Pospisil hit eight aces in the match versus two for Federer, but Pospisils return game didnt stand up to his opponents shots. The wildcard only won 15% of points on his return game and couldnt get a service break.
In the third round, Federer will face world no. 16 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France, who beat the Swiss last month in the quarters at Wimbledon and stopped his streak in 2009 at the Rogers Cup in Montreal.
No doubt that the world no.3 will be out for revenge on Thursday.
This will be the season Liverpool judges its £35m investment in Andy Carroll and he appears primed to leave his mark. He left it on the scoresheet, defenders’ ankles, their ribs and the referee’s notebook against Valencia.
A previously lax pre-season ended well for Kenny Dalglish’s team against the third best team in Spain as Liverpool recorded their first clean sheet of the summer – having conceded 15 goals in five matches beforehand – and witnessed their centre-forward rouse himself into form in front of the watching Fabio Capello. “I was delighted with Andy’s performance, absolutely delighted,” said the Liverpool manager. “You can see he’s over his knee injury problems and he was flying about out there. He can train properly now, and hopefully we will see the benefits of that.”
The reason in parting with £20m for Stewart Downing became evident within five minutes of the former Aston Villa midfielder’s Anfield debut as he delivered two delightful crosses from the left. His first picked out Daniel Agger and though no Liverpool forward pounced on the Dane’s header across the goalmouth, nor when Downing’s low centre evaded Carroll moments later, his supply is tailor-made for a forward of the England international’s stature. “With Andy up front and Stewart hanging them up in the box, you can see why people will get excited,” added Dalglish.
Carroll was central to the outcome and mood of a fractious friendly. With six minutes gone he was sent clear by an under-hit back-pass from Valencia’s veteran captain, David Albelda, and opened the scoring at the second attempt after his initial shot through the legs of goalkeeper Diego Alves struck a post and rolled across the line. He then placed the contest on simmer with a dreadful lunge on the Valencia central defender, Adil Rami, having been riled by referee Martin Atkinson’s refusal to penalise the France international for an earlier trip.
Rami and Carroll squared upfor a contest that would enrich the heavyweight boxing division as players from both sides raced across the pitch, before Liverpool’s No9 received a yellow card that on an competitive occasion would have been red. He was also the victim of swift retribution as Albelda took his captain’s responsibilities too far and planted his studs into Carroll’s thigh, although the striker showed no lasting effects. Club and country did lose Glen Johnson, who pulled up lame with a thigh injury after only seven minutes.The full extent of the problem will not be known until an assessment at Melwood on Sunday.
This was Anfield’s first look at £47m worth of midfield investment and they produced a mixed review. Liverpool lined up in a 4-4-1-1 formation with Alberto Aquilani playing off lone striker Carroll and in front of a midfield of Jordan Henderson, Jay Spearing, Charlie Adam and Downing. While Downing impressed with his delivery and movement and Adam worked diligently in the centre, Henderson had a quiet game on the right and will do well to dislodge Dirk Kuyt from that position when his former club Sunderland open the Premier League season at Anfield.
Focus on Valencia was largely concentrated on the Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur target Juan Mata, who, with the exception of a well-taken volley that Jamie Carragher diverted wide, was overshadowed by Pablo Piatti, the visitors’ £7.5m summer signing from Almeria. The usual procession of second-half substitutions inevitably ruined the rhythm of the contest but Sotirios Kyrgiakos made it a good evening for Liverpooland their pony-tailed contingent when he turned in from close range in the dying moments.