Federer's mind games see him through

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Roger Federer explained how he took Tommy Robredo apart set by set to score an impressive victory that sent him through to the US Open quarter-finals.

Federer made light work of 14th seed Robredo on America's Labour Day holiday as the world number one set up a last eight meeting with French Open final opponent Robin Soderling.

Five-time defending champion Federer had gone into the fourth round clash at Flushing Meadows with an 8-1 playing record over Spaniard Robredo having won their last eight meetings.

That winning streak was never seriously under threat at Arthur Ashe Stadium as Federer, in their first match since the 2007 French Open, defeated Robredo 7-5, 6-2, 6-2.

It was a measured performance from the world number one, slowly turning the screw before killing off his opponent in clinical fashion.

Robredo had began the match solidly, earning break points in fourth game only to see Federer take advantage of poor returns from the Spaniard to hold at 2-2.

Robredo did take the opening set to 5-5, before a sloppy 11th game ended with a poor backhand and Federer had the break, from which he took a one-set lead.

"I tried to figure him out a little bit, the way he played me," Federer said of a cautious first set.

"I thought he really played my backhand a lot. I expected him to open it up sometimes towards my forehand but he didn't.

"I was a little unsure there for a while, how I should play him. He was doing a good job of keeping me off balance and being intense from the baseline.

"So it was a key to get the break and not having to go through the tie-break. I was even down break points so it was kind of tough.

"Once I got the lead I could also hit a bit more freely.

"That didn't allow him to play his game any more. I got on top of him and played good tennis."

Things grew progressively worse from there for Robredo as Federer stayed well within himself and let the Spaniard engineer his own undoing.

That did not take long, the 2009 French Open and Wimbledon champion securing a break in the third game and accelerating away from Robredo with another break to move to 4-1 with serve on the way to a two-set cushion.

Federer obviously had plans for his evening in New York as he kicked on again in the third set, breaking the 14th seed in the opening game, and again in the third for a 3-0 lead.

Robredo finally held serve at 4-1 to cheers from the Ashe crowd but it was cold comfort for the Spaniard and Federer mopped things up in an hour and 48 minutes.

"When we got to five-all (in the first set) he just broke me and then he started playing very aggressive and it everything was very easy for him," Robredo said.

"He was playing so good. When he plays like this it's tough.

"When he saw that he was up a set he started hitting harder and with confidence. Then it's tough to handle."

Federer now faces Sweden's Robin Soderling in the quarter-finals, the third grand slam in succession that the two will have met, including the French Open final.

Twelfth seed Soderling, who has not beaten Federer in 11 previous meetings, progressed to the last eight at the expense of eighth seed Nikolay Davydenko, the Russian retiring with a left thigh injury while trailing two sets to one.

"It seems like he's on a good run again," Federer said of Soderling. "I think of him, obviously of the French Open final which was a great one for me, a great tournament.

"It's a tough challenge. I hope I can play well because it's always kind of close with him. He's a tough player."

Fourth seed Novak Djokovic also swept into the quarter-finals with a solid straight sets victory over Radek Stepanek in the night match on Ashe.

The Serbian former Australian Open champion scored a 6-1 6-3 6-3 win in an hour and 46 minutes over the 15th seed from the Czech Republic but was never really stretched by an inconsistent opponent.

The victory for Djokovic sets up a last-eight clash with 10th seed Fernando Verdasco of Spain, who had earlier in the day ended American interest in the US Open men's singles draw by knocking out the unseeded John Isner in four sets.

"I think I played overall really well," Djokovic said. "I was aggressive and didn't give him any chance to control the match and that was the key."

Djokovic apologised for not giving the crowd a five-set thriller but made up for it by coaxing John McEnroe out of the television commentary booth to play a couple of exhibition points.

At a slightly higher level of play earlier in the day at Louis Armstrong Stadium, 10th seed Verdasco came from a set down to beat unseeded American John Isner, the 6ft 9ins conqueror of fifth seed and compatriot Andy Roddick, 4-6 6-4 6-4 6-4.

Isner's defeat means there will be no American male quarter-finalist for the first time in US Open history.

"I'm a little bit disappointed, I wanted to go further," Isner said."I played pretty well, maybe I could have played a little bit better but I just got outplayed today."