Federer on course after blowing Mathieu away

Swiss wastes no time in bid to win sixth US Open title despite stormy weather

Despite the best efforts of Hurricane Earl there was never any chance of Roger Federer being blown off course in his quest to win a sixth US Open title here yesterday. The weather system that has been causing disruption up America's east coast sent litter swirling across the courts and made serving a major challenge for many, but Federer took everything in his stride to beat Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-4 6-3 6-3 in just 99 minutes.

When the former world No 1 lost in the quarter-finals at the French Open and Wimbledon this summer, ending his run of 23 consecutive appearances in Grand Slam semi-finals, there were some who questioned whether he would ever add to his record tally of 16 major titles. But the 29-year-old Swiss bounced back by winning last month's Cincinnati Masters, his first title since the Australian Open at the start of the year, and has looked in ominous form here. He has not dropped a set in his first three matches and rarely gave Mathieu a chance.

Since joining forces at the end of July with a new coach, Paul Annacone, who used to work with Pete Sampras and Tim Henman, Federer has been playing with renewed aggression. He has also restored much of the variety on his serve. Despite the tricky conditions, the Swiss put 13 aces past Mathieu, who was one of six Frenchmen in the third round, an Open era record here.

Gaël Monfils and Richard Gasquet both maintained their winning runs yesterday and will meet in an all-French encounter in the fourth round. Monfils equalled his best performance here by beating Janko Tipsarevic, Andy Roddick's conqueror, 7-6 6-7 6-2 6-4, while Gasquet kept up his recent improvement to beat South Africa's Kevin Anderson 6-4 7-6 6-5.

Gasquet, who has not dropped a set in his first three matches, has not played in the fourth round of a Grand Slam event since losing to Andy Murray at Wimbledon two years ago. The former world No 7 has struggled to recapture his best form since the controversy surrounding his positive drugs test for cocaine last year, when he was off the court for four months. He was No 86 in the world rankings three months ago but is back up to No 38 and will make further progress in next week's updated list.

Robin Soderling is seeded to meet Federer in the quarter-finals and stayed on course with a 6-2 6-3 6-3 defeat of Thiemo de Bakker. The Swede now plays Spain's Albert Montanes, whose opponent, Kei Nishikori, retired in the second set.

Rafael Nadal, having looked below his best against Teymuraz Gabashvili in the first round, moved up a gear with his 6-2 7-6 7-5 victory over Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan on Friday night. John McEnroe is among those who believe the world No 1 can complete his set of Grand Slam titles here, but Nadal patiently dismisses such talk.

"You are focused on this," the Spaniard said when asked what he thought about trying to follow the example of Federer, who finally completed his set of Grand Slam titles at last year's French Open. "Maybe it was a big goal for Roger because he is the best player in history and he needed Roland Garros. He deserved Roland Garros because he had played in three finals there and a semi-final.

"Seriously, for me, completing the Grand Slam at this moment is not a goal. For me the goal is to try to improve my level, to play well in my next match, and we will see what happens next Sunday."

What chance did he think he had of being the best player ever, as he described Federer? "I've never thought about that. I don't think I am ready to be the best in history. I seriously think this is not the right moment to talk about that. I am 24 years and a few months old and to talk about history when you are still playing is difficult.

"I'm very happy with my eight Grand Slams, the Olympics, 18 Masters 1000 titles. In one way I am probably already part of the history of tennis, so I am very happy with that. I don't know if I'm going to have the chance to keep winning Grand Slams. I'm going to try for sure. But be the best in history is almost impossible."

Nadal had not been happy with his serve in the build-up to the year's final Grand Slam event, but a small change under the supervision of Toni Nadal, his uncle and coach, has made all the difference. "I changed the grip a little bit five or six days ago," Nadal said. "I tried to play the serve a little bit more aggressively."

In the quarter-finals Nadal could face David Nalbandian, playing his first Grand Slam tournament for more than 18 months after injury problems. The 28-year-old Argentinian meets Fernando Verdasco of Spain in the third round after an impressive 7-5 6-4 6-2 victory over France's Florent Serra.

Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...