Federer stays on the move

Five-time champ blows past Cilic

Third-seeded Roger Federer needed four sets to oust Marin Cilic for his 225th victory at a major. Third-seeded Roger Federer needed four sets to oust Marin Cilic for his 225th victory at a major. (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)
By Eddie Pells
Associated Press / September 4, 2011

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NEW YORK - Once again, Roger Federer is through the first week of a Grand Slam.

Next comes the interesting part.

The five-time US Open champion defeated 27th-seeded Marin Cilic, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2, at blustery Flushing Meadows yesterday, marking the 30th straight time he has made it to the round of 16 in a major.

Federer needs an Open title to extend his streak to nine straight years with a major championship. He fought off the range of his 6-foot-6-inch opponent and dealt with an unpredictable wind in Arthur Ashe Stadium to win his 225th match at a major, second best behind Jimmy Connors.

“The first and second set could’ve gone either way,’’ Federer said. “He was dominating more of the baseline rallies. I didn’t think I was serving particularly well during that period. I knew I had work to do on my serve. I think the wind was tricky. It took some adjustments but I took the right ones and thought it was a very high-quality match.’’

Federer’s only major hiccup came at the end of the second set, when he got broken in the last game off a big Cilic forehand that Federer couldn’t get back.

With Cilic facing a break point while serving at 4-all in the third set, he was warned by the chair umpire for a time violation. Cilic promptly double-faulted, giving Federer a 5-4 lead. Third-seeded Federer won seven of the next nine games to close out the match.

“As long as I’m moving on in the draw, I’m a happy man,’’ he said.

After disposing of 39th-ranked Nikolay Davydenko, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2, top seed Novak Djokovic delighted the crowd by showing off some dance moves while music blared over the stadium loudspeakers.

“I know most people expect top players to get to the late stages of the tournament, so there’s extra pressure on us,’’ said Djokovic, seeking his first title at Flushing Meadows after runner-up finishes in 2007 and 2010. “But it’s a challenge we’re ready to accept. This is what we work all our lives for, to be on this court.’’

Earlier in the stadium, top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki rolled through her third straight match, avoiding an upset bug that has turned big sections of the women’s bracket into a free-for-all.

Wozniacki, the Open runner-up in 2009, defeated American Vania King, 6-2, 6-4, and has lost a total of 12 games over her first three matches. Like Federer, it took her time to figure out the breezes on a warm, windy day in New York

“The wind, it was going everywhere,’’ she said. “You had to keep the margin over the net and away from the lines.’’

That’s Wozniacki’s game, though, and it has served her well. Though she is still in search of her first major, she has been ranked No. 1 for most of the last year.

“To be honest, I felt like I was playing with her,’’ King said. “But she isn’t No. 1 without a good reason. She is used to winning. She has that confidence.’’

Wozniacki and Serena Williams, a straight-set winner over fourth-seeded Victoria Azarenka, are the favorites in a tournament that has lost a number of prime contenders.

Already, French Open champion Li Na and Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova have been knocked out. Venus Williams withdrew after revealing she had been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. Defending champion Kim Clijsters never entered because of an injury. On Friday, third-seeded Maria Sharapova lost a three-set match to Flavia Pennetta.

In other women’s matches, No. 7 Francesca Schiavone beat Chanelle Scheepers, 5-7, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3, in a match that lasted 2 hours 57 minutes. Schiavone’s next opponent will be No. 17 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, a 6-4, 6-4 winner over No. 11 Jelena Jankovic.

In early men’s play, No. 20 Janko Tipsarevic was leading No. 9 Tomas Berdych, 6-4, 5-0, when Berdych quit because of a shoulder injury - something that started bothering him last month at a tuneup in Cincinnati.

Tipsarevic’s next opponent will be 2003 French Open champion and US Open runner-up Juan Carlos Ferrero, who was leading, 6-1, 4-3, when Marcel Granollers retired because of an abdominal muscle injury.

The Spaniard was the 14th player to quit in the middle of a match over the first week, the most for any Grand Slam tournament in the Open era. The previous record was 12 at Wimbledon in 2008.