News & Current Affairs

September 3, 2008

Federer edges through in thriller

Federer edges through in thriller


Roger Federer

Federer last lost at the US Open against David Nalbandian in 2003

Roger Federer came through a desperately tense five-set encounter with Igor Andreev to keep his bid for a fifth straight US Open title alive.

The champion showed the frailty that has dogged him all year as he was taken to a fifth set but raised his game to win 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 3-6 6-3.

Andreev took the first set and had seven break points at the start of the second but Federer managed to hang on.

He will face Gilles Muller of Luxembourg in the quarter-finals.

Muller, a qualifier, stunned Russian fifth seed Nikolay Davydenko 6-4 4-6 6-3 7-6 (12-10) in a dramatic match.

Federer had looked superb in his third-round win over Radek Stepanek, but his recent frailties were in evidence throughout against Andreev on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

He broke me so easily at the beginning and I was struggling to get in a groove from the baseline
Roger Federer

He made 60 unforced errors and faced 15 break points, and his survival was largely due to the fact that Andreev converted just two of them.The Russian broke at the first attempt and should have taken the set from there, but he allowed Federer back in at 5-5 before edging the tie-break.

A nervous Federer then framed a smash to slip 15-40 down early in the second but Andreev failed to capitalize on five break points, and a further two in the next game.

Still the world number two struggled with his form, missing two set points in the second set tie-break before Andreev handed him the set with a wayward forehand.

That gave Federer a temporary boost and when he cracked away a cross-court forehand to break for 3-1 in the third, the game appeared up for Andreev.

But at the same stage in the fourth set Andreev benefited from a hugely fortuitous net cord and confidently served out to take it to a decider.

At last, Federer reminded everyone of why he has won 12 Grand Slams as he stepped up a gear, moving 3-0 clear after winning an epic rally to break.It was hardly downhill all the way after that as the Swiss fought off four break-back points at 4-2, but his fighting spirit saw him through to a meeting with Muller,the world number 130.

“He was playing well,” Federer said of Andreev. “He broke me so easily at the beginning and I was struggling to get in a groove from the baseline.

“The second set was key for me to get back in the match. I served well but it was a tough match.”

Davydenko could not cope with Muller’s serve-volleying and a barrage of 20 aces on Louis Armstrong Stadium.

Muller pulled out his best shots when it mattered, serving an ace to save a set point at 4-5 in the fourth set and saving another with a big serve at 6-7 down in the tie-break before getting a net-cord on match point.

“I think it’s not about that last point,” said Davydenko. “It’s about many points. I had so many chances.”

In the same half of the draw, third seed Novak Djokovic edged out Tommy Robredo 4-6 6-2 6-3 5-7 6-3.

The Serbian will play American Andy Roddick in the last eight after the 2003 champion thrashed Fernando Gonzalez 6-2 6-4 6-1.

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August 4, 2008

Superb Murray wins Masters title

Andy Murray won his first title at the elite Masters Series level with a stunning victory over world number three Novak Djokovic in Cincinnati.

Courtesy BBC

Murray repeated his defeat of the Serb at last week’s Toronto Masters, beating his fellow 21-year-old 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-5) in two hours and 23 minutes.

He needed six match points to seal victory after failing to serve out the match at the first attempt.

The win will see Murray ranked at a career high six in the world on Monday.

“It’s huge because to win these tournaments is tough nowadays,” said Murray afterwards.

“I’ve played five days in these conditions and had eight or nine matches in the last couple of weeks. But I’ve put in the physical work and it’s paid off.”

Djokovic enjoyed a fantastic win over world number one in waiting Rafael Nadal in the semis and went into the final with a 4-1 record against Murray.

I got very nervous and he was hitting the ball really big but I hung in well
Andy Murray

But that solitary win for the Scot came only nine days ago and was evidence of the significant leap he has made in recent months.

It was the Briton who started the better and he cranked up the pressure in game five, forcing a break point, before earning another chance two games later.

The Serb held him off but as the set progressed it seemed a matter of when, rather than if, Murray would force the break, all the while holding his own serve with ease.

Despite not being taken past 30 on serve the Scot still required a tie-break but he remained ice cool, breaking immediately and consolidating with a huge ace.

A couple of wild Djokovic forehand errors saw Murray reach the changeover at 5-1 and he wrapped up a commanding set when the Serb sent a backhand long.

Murray finally let his level slip at 1-1 in the second set and, after two crunching forehand winners saw off the immediate danger, he went long with a backhand on the third break point to hand Djokovic the lead.

It did not last long.

The Australian Open champion double-faulted on the first point of the following game and immediately handed back the break, looking suitably disgusted with himself.

606: DEBATE
BBC Sport’s Piers Newbery

Murray stepped up a gear in game eight, moving to break point with a forehand winner and taking it when Djokovic netted a smash after some breathtaking scrambling from the Scot.

But with the title in his sights, Murray played his first edgy game of the day, throwing in two double-faults and missing four match points before Djokovic broke back.

It could have been a shattering blow for the Briton but he held on as the confidence flowed through Djokovic and managed to force a second tie-break.

Murray led 4-2 at the changeover after Djokovic double-faulted but was pegged back to 4-4, at which point the Scot won an epic rally with a fizzing backhand winner.

He finally earned a fifth match point with following another Djokovic double-fault but failed to make a return.

The sixth chance to seal victory came on his own serve and, finally, Murray secured a landmark win with a thumping volley.

“I got very nervous and he was hitting the ball really big but I hung in well,” said Murray.

“It was tough for both of us and there were a lot of long rallies. Your legs really burn out there and they were some of the hardest conditions of the year.

“But I stayed calm throughout and didn’t waste any energy – especially when I went behind in a couple of matches.

“In the past maybe I’d have let that get to me but now I’m playing top players on a regular basis and I’m better equipped.”

The Scot now heads to Beijing to represent Great Britain in the Olympic Games before moving on to the US Open.

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