Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Roger Federer cruises past Philipp Kohlschreiber at US Open

Roger Federer cruises past Philipp Kohlschreiber at US Open

Roger Federer beat Philipp Kohlschreiber last night to extend his record at the grand slams this season to 18 straight wins, and then surprised everyone by admitting that he had gone off the court for a “bottom rub” before the third set.

Federer showed no sign of being physically compromised during this latest masterclass, which he completed with a classic one-two punch: the big serve, followed up by a forehand winner to close out a 6-4, 6-2, 7-5 victory.

The legion of Federer admirers on Arthur Ashe Stadium must have been more confused than concerned when he left the court for a medical time-out, just after concluding what was arguably his slickest set of the tournament to date. Then, when the on-court interviewer Brad Gilbert asked him about the time-out, Federer seemed more amused by the question.

“I needed a bit of a rub on my back - or my bottom - and I didn’t want to do it on court,” he said with a grin. “I wanted to get it done as quick as possible so I didn’t have to wait.”

After a five-minute delay, Federer returned to the court and picked up where he left off, soon surging through to the quarter-finals – where he will play Juan Martin del Potro in a rematch of the 2009 final here – in a typically efficient 1hr 50min. Later, in the interview room, Federer expanded a little on the nature of his treatment. “I just felt something, sort of my muscle being tight at the back. Sort of my quad, I guess. I don't know what you call it.

“I just wanted to get it done really quickly after the set break. I said, ‘Look, you know what, I need to go off court for it.’ Normally you have to ask. I just ran straight to the physio. I was done in three minutes and back again.

“I just didn't want Philipp to wait. It was more precaution. It's all good. No problems there. I'm not worried about it. I'm sorry I had to do it.”

Unusually, the early stages of Federer’s match were overshadowed by the drama unfolding simultaneously on the Grandstand court, where the hugely popular del Potro defied the after-effects of flu to reverse a two-set deficit against sixth seed Dominic Thiem.

The cheers when del Potro won the fourth set – in which he trailed 5-2 at one stage, and also stood just two points from defeat – were so loud that they could clearly be heard on Ashe. “That's the first time I experienced that,” said Federer.

In his own press conference after a 1-6, 2-6, 6-1, 7-6, 6-4 victory – which occupied no less than 3hr 35min - del Potro admitted that he had not been confident of completing the match because of his ongoing illness. “I was thinking to retire in the middle of the second set,” he said, “because I couldn't breathe, I couldn't move well. Dominic was dominating the match so easy.

“Then I saw the crowd waiting for more tennis, waiting for my good forehands, good serves. I took all that energy to change in a good way and think about fight and not retire.”

This was clearly the match of the tournament so far. Yet for all del Potro’s popularity, the majority of New York’s tennis-lovers will probably be praying that he loses against Federer tomorrow.

And that Rafael Nadal – who demolished Alexandr Dolgopolov by a 6-2, 6-4, 6-1 – comes through his own quarter-final against 19-year-old Russian Andrey Rublev. Should both those results eventuate, Federer and Nadal will finally find themselves on opposite sides of the net at the US Open – the one major tournament where they have never locked antlers before.

Article by Chris Graham from The Telegraph