on September 1, 2008 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

Federer and Jankovic hit top gear

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A satisfied Roger Federer said his game is right where he wants it as he headed into the second week of the U.S. Open with a hassle-free 6-3 6-3 6-2 victory over 28th seed Radek Stepanek on Sunday.

The Swiss second seed, chasing a fifth straight title at Flushing Meadows but who has yet to win a grand slam title this year, hit 12 aces as he breezed past the Czech to reach the last 16.

Federer, who will now play Spaniard Fernando Verdasco or Igor Andreev of Russia, has not dropped a set on his way to the fourth round.

“It’s good for me to not waste any energy,” Federer told reporters. “I’m playing well and moving on in the draw.

“I think all in all I’m really happy. I’ve been serving well for the first three rounds, and that’s always a good sign for the rest of the tournament.”

Federer admitted it was nice to get his revenge over Stepanek for his defeat by the Czech on clay in Rome in May, but said he was more concerned with the way he was playing.

“I don’t try to impress anybody in the early rounds. If it happens, that’s great. I don’t really care that much,” he said.

“I think I returned well, especially on the second serve. I was good off the baseline. I think I moved well today and really hit some great shots when I needed them.”

In warm, breezy conditions, the Swiss was on his game from the start, particularly on serve, frequently leaving the 29-year-old Stepanek hitting air on his returns.

The Czech stayed with Federer in the second set until 3-3 but the second seed then pulled away to clinch an impressive victory.

Beaten by Rafael Nadal in the French Open and Wimbledon finals and having lost his world number one ranking to the Spaniard earlier this month, Federer has a point to prove.

The Swiss also suffered a series of surprising defeats in the first half of the year, but he said on Sunday that he had never let his head drop.

“I always bounced back right away when things were not looking that good, and did the same thing after Wimbledon,” he said.

“Maybe I was a little bit disappointed but the buzz was bigger about the great match we just played, so I couldn’t really look at this match and be completely disappointed.

“Then maybe in the summer I didn’t win a whole lot of matches, but I won the Olympic gold in doubles (with Stanislas Wawrinka).

“So I guess I always had a good spirit. I was in practice and never really down. This is when you feel it most, when you go out on the practice court and you wonder what you want to do or change, and I never really felt I had that.

“That’s a good thing, and I think that’s why I’m always very, very positive, still, right now.”

(Editing by Miles Evans)