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
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future
Berlusconi's world of sleaze: The astonishing lifestyle once enjoyed by Italy's former PM

Berlusconi's world of sleaze

The astonishing lifestyle once enjoyed by Italy's former PM
Disney plans galactic domination with endless Star Wars spin-offs

Disney plans galactic domination with endless Star Wars spin-offs

Films and theme parks are just the beginning. Disney believes its control of the now decades-old franchise can bring in merchandise and marketing millions for years to come
Could the golden age of the gaming arcade ever be revived in the era of the Xbox?

Could gaming arcades be revived?

The days when coin-ops were the only way to play the latest video games are gone. But a small band of enthusiasts are keeping the button-pushing dream alive
Edinburgh Fringe 2015: The 'tampon tax' has inspired a new wave of female comedians to reclaim period jokes

Heard the one about menstruation?

Yes, if you have been at the Fringe, where period pieces are taking centre stage