11:55 am - Tuesday January 19, 2021

US Open: Federer improves night record to 26-1

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Roger Federer thrived in the New York spotlight as the Swiss dominated Sam Groth 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 on Friday to win his 26th career night match at the US Open.

The second seed needed one and three-quarter hours to hammer out the second-round win, coming from 2-5 down in the third set and winning it on his ninth ace.

Groth, whose game is all about his serve, could not match it with the five-time New York winner.

“I did pretty well form the start against his serve,” said Federer. “I created opportunities. I’m happy with how I played. I knew he would play serve and volley, he played tough until the end. It’s always a challenge playing these big servers.”

The burly Groth found his serve neutralised by clever play from the 33-year-old Swiss.

Federer now stands 26-1 in night play at the Open.

Groth was playing a top ten opponent for the first time. The win leaves Federer 18-1 against Australians at the majors, and 69-9 at Flushing Meadows.

Federer will next take on Spaniard Marcel Granollers, who eliminated Ivo Karlovic 7-6 (8-6), 6-7 (3-7), 7-6 (7-5), 3-6, 6-4.

Fourth seed David Ferrer took a free place in the third round as Bernard Tomic withdrew with hip pain. It was the sixth time in the past 18 months that the number 67 had made a withdrawal and the second time in 2014 at a grand slam.

Czech sixth seed Tomas Berdych had to go five sets to beat Slovak Martin Klizan 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 while seventh seed Grigor Dimitrov advanced over Dudi Sela 6-1, 6-2, 6-2.

Austrian Dominic Thiem beat good friend and training partner Ernests Gulbis — the pair share the same coach — 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 as the 11th seed lost.

French 12th seed Richard Gasquet defeated Paolo Lorenzi 7-6 (7-4), 6-3, 6-3 to set up a third-round countryman clash with Gael Monfils.

French showman Monfils put his game on display as he beat Alejandro Gonzalez 7-5, 6-3, 6-2.

In the women’s draw, WTA veteran Mirjana Lucic-Baroni earned an upset over second seed Simona Halep 7-6 (8-6), 6-2 to reach the fourth round of a grand slam for the first time in 15 years.

The 32-year-old Croatian, ranked 121 and playing in her “second” career, last got this far at a major in 1999 at Wimbledon, reaching a semi-final at the All England Club.

Before entering qualifying rounds last week, she had lost eight straight matches.

French Open finalist Halep, winner of two titles this season, has never been past the New York fourth round and last lost to a player ranked outside the top 100 in the summer of 2013.

“Everything was in for her,” Halep said. “It wasn’t my best day, but still I did everything I could on court. She was better than me today.”

Swiss teenager Belinda Bencic delivered the day’s second upset shortly after Halep exited, beating German sixth seed Angelique Kerber 6-1, 7-5 with a fight-back rally in the second set.

She will next face Serb ninth seed Jelena Jankovic, who crushed Swede Johanna Larsson 6-1, 6-0.

Former number one Caroline Wozniacki — the 10th seed — put out German Andrea Petkovic 6—3, 6—2.

Italian Sara Errani tried to quiet a rowdy New York crowd during the crucial final games of her win over sentimental favourite Venus Williams, with the 13th seed drawing jeers in her 6-0, 0-6, 7-6 (7-5) defeat of the 34-year-old veteran.

Williams had played a late doubles match the night before and may have felt the effects on court.

“The schedule definitely wasn’t ideal. It was just such a late match. Not ideal,” she said.

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