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Federer leaves Groth firing blanks

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Originally published on 30/08/14

Federer tames Groth to extend night match record

Roger Federer claimed his 24th US Open night session win in 25 matches with a composed 6-4 6-4 6-4 victory over the huge-serving Australian Sam Groth.

The five-time former champion returned one 147mph serve and hit a winner off another delivery that registered at 142mph on the speed gun, enjoying the challenge of facing the man credited with the biggest serve in tennis.

“I think once you pass the 135 range everything is just really fast,” Federer said. “You do see, with the big, big serving guys, when they go for the really big serve – you just have that feeling that they're really going to try to crank it and their body tightens up. That gives it away sometimes.”

After falling to late breaks in the first two sets, Groth opened up a 4-2 lead in the third only for Federer to move through the gears and rattle off the next four games for victory. A third-round showdown with Marcel Granollers awaits after the Spaniard downed another big server, Ivo Karlovic, in a five-set contest that lasted nearly four hours.

 

Sharapova scraps to set up Wozniacki showdown

It wasn’t pretty at times, but Maria Sharapova got the job done against Sabine Lisicki to book her spot in the last 16 with a 6-2 6-4 win that featured 15 double faults and 56 unforced errors.

Sharapova contributed eight doubles and 24 of the errors, most of which came in a scrappy second set to close out the night session "You have to choice but step it up when it counts if you want to continue and ultimately be the champion of this event," Sharapova said on court afterwards, adding she hoped to "maybe get a good night hug from someone," referring to boyfriend Grigor Dimitrov, who beat Dudi Sela earlier on Friday. "Hopefully [he's] sleeping."

No.10 seed Wozniacki will face Sharapova after booking her spot in the fourth round with an impressive 6-3 6-2 victory over Andrea Petkovic. “Every match I kind of get into a better groove out there and I'm playing better,” she said. “It's nice to be through to the fourth round again. It's going to be another tough one, but I'm excited about it.”

 

Venus and Halep lose as bottom half opens up

Former champion Venus Williams and No.2 seed Simona Halep were on course for a fourth-round clash at the US Open, but both crashed out within minutes of one another as Friday threw up all manner of upsets in the women’s draw.

Williams made the worst possible start to her third-round encounter with No.13 seed Sara Errani. Having never dropped a set to the Italian, the 34-year-old lost the first 6-0, moving gingerly and making just 30% of her first serves, only to bagel Errani back to take the match into a decider.

In the third Williams served for the match, only to be broken before wiping out Errani’s 5-2 lead in the tiebreak. But a couple of inspired points from the Italian undid all that good work to seal a 6-0 0-6 7-6(5) victory.

Errani will face qualifier Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in the fourth round after the Croatian 32-year-old stunned Halep 7-6(6) 6-2 on Grandstand. "After so many years, it's incredible," said Lucic Baroni, who reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon in 1999 before problems in her private life derailed her career. "I live for this. Every painful moment has been worth it."

Fellow seeds Roberta Vinci and Angelique Kerber also crashed out in the third round, but former finalist Jelena Jankovic won at a canter against Johanna Larsson 6-0 6-1 and Lucie Safarova survived a three-set encounter with Alize Cornet 6-3 6-7(3) 6-4.

 

Berdych and Thiem advance in five

Tomas Berdych was pushed all the way by Slovakia’s Martin Klizan before booking his spot in the third round with a 6-3 4-6 6-2 3-6 6-3 win. The No.5 seed’s match was moved onto Arthur Ashe Stadium just 15 minutes before the pair were set to head out on court after Bernard Tomic’s withdrawal handed David Ferrer a walkover and played into the early evening, eventually walking off court after three hours, 45 minutes of match play.

“It's a good challenge, you know,” Berdych said. “The conditions were tough again. You go from day till early evening. You start with the sun, then you end up with the lights. It was quite windy, as well. Really, I mean, he play good, so I'm happy to have that on my belt, to win another five-setter, and just go forward.

As usual, Dominic Thiem and Ernests Gulbis warmed up together before facing one another in the day’s other five-set contest. Gulbis, the No.11 seed, surged into a two-set lead before Thiem battled back to take the match into a decider, at which point his opponent’s fitness began to falter. Gulbis quickly slipped 4-0 down, and while he rallied to grab one of the breaks back, by the end he was barely able to move as Thiem ran out a 4-6 3-6 6-4 6-3 6-3 winner – his first five-set victory – to set up a showdown with Feliciano Lopez. As for Gulbis, he trudged away as the first player in the top 20 to lose at the year’s US Open.

 

Performance of the day

Since losing to Andy Murray in the first round at Wimbledon, David Goffin has been on something of a tear this summer. The Belgian claimed three Challengers before translating his form to the ATP Tour, winning his maiden title on the clay of Kitzbuhel. By the time Jerzy Janowicz inflicted his first defeat since departing the All England Club, Goffin had racked up 25 victories in succession.

Having gone beyond the first round at a Grand Slam for the first time since 2012 by beating compatriot Niels Desein in straight sets, Goffin booked a third round showdown with Grigor Dimitrov after a comprehensive 6-4 6-2 6-0 win over Portugal’s Joao Sousa. One to keep an eye on this coming Sunday…

 

Quote of the day

“It's not easy, hitting balls every day and staying really motivated. It's normal you're going to have ups and downs. But I found my way again. And I love the sport. I love competing. I love battling. I love being out there and playing in front of crowds” – Jelena Jankovic reflects on her rollercoaster career in the decade since she reached the semi-finals at the US Open in 2004.

 

Stat of the day

110mph – speed of Gael Monfils’ flying tomahawk of a forehand against Alejandro Gonzalez (sufficed to say, it was a winner). The former quarter-finalist was in all-out entertain mode on Grandstand en route to a 7-5 6-3 6-2 victory to set up a third-round clash with fellow Frenchman Richard Gasquet.

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