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Federer taking it one shot at a time

By Associated Press in New York | China Daily | Updated: 2013-08-29 07:14

 Federer taking it one shot at a time

Roger Federer of Switzerland serves to Grega Zemlja of Slovenia at the US Open in New York on Tuesday. Federer won 6-3, 6-2, 7-5. Eduardo Munoz / Reuters

Swiss parlays practice, patience into first-round win at US Open

At this point in his career, Roger Federer recognizes the importance of a little extra work.

That's why the owner of a record 17 Grand Slam titles, and the man who spent more weeks ranked No 1 than any player in history was out there on a US Open practice court late on Tuesday afternoon, putting in some training time shortly after finishing off a 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 victory over 62nd-ranked Grega Zemlja of Slovenia in the first round.

At his lowest ranking, No 7, in more than a decade, and coming off a stunningly early exit at the previous major tournament - one of a series of newsworthy losses lately - the 32-year-old Federer is OK with making some concessions. And he insists his passion for tennis is still there.

"I'm in a good spot right now," Federer said. "I want to enjoy it as long as it lasts."

He made it sound, though, as if it isn't as easy to enjoy things the way his results have been going.

Federer taking it one shot at a time

Federer entered Tuesday 32-11 on the year, a .744 winning percentage that doesn't sound too bad, until you consider his career mark at the start of this season was .816, and he's had years where he went 81-4 (.953). and 92-5 (.948).

He's only won one tournament in 2013, which would be great for some guys, but Federer topped 10 titles three times, and hasn't won fewer than three in any season since 2001.

"Clearly, when you win everything, it's fun. That doesn't necessarily mean you love the game more. You just like winning, being on the front page, lifting trophies, doing comfortable press conferences. It's nice.

"But that doesn't mean you really actually love it," said Federer, whose streak of 36 consecutive Grand Slam quarterfinals ended with a second-round defeat at Wimbledon against an opponent ranked 116th.

"That maybe shines through more in times when you don't play that well.

"For me, I know - winning or losing, practice court or match court - that I love it."

As fan favorite Federer took the first step toward a possible quarterfinal meeting with nemesis Rafael Nadal.

Federer said he doesn't fret about being seeded seventh at Flushing Meadows, a year after being No 1.

Not since 2002, when he was 13th, has he been so low at the US Open. A bad lower back has bothered him this season and he's experimented with a larger racket head, but on Tuesday he was patient, collecting 35 winners and only 16 unforced errors.

"I decided to play aggressively," Federer said. "I was happy the way I played, you know, overall. I mean, it's the first round, after all."

In the women's draw, No 11 seed Samantha Stosur crashed out to unseeded US teen Victoria Duval and was joined on the sidelines by No 17 Dominika Cibulkova, No 20 Nadia Petrova and No 31 Klara Zakopalova.

Meanwhile, China's Peng Shuai beat Yvonne Meusburger of Austria 6-3, 6-4 while second seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus crushed Germany's Dinah Pfizenmaier 6-0, 6-0 and will face Aleksandra Wozniak of Canada for a place in the last 32.

Federer taking it one shot at a time

Azarenka's match in Arthur Ashe Stadium came after top-seeded Novak Djokovic began his bid for a second US Open title and seventh major trophy overall by beating 112th-ranked Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania 6-1, 6-2, 6-2.

"I played every point like it's a match point," Djokovic said after needing less than an hour to nail down the win.

"We worked very well together over the last six, seven days of preparations for the Open and tonight's match went really well," Djokovic said of working with former top 10 player Wojtek Fibak, who recently joined his coaching staff.

"Wojtek has an important role on the team - he's my consultant."

No 5 Tomas Berdych and No 10 Milos Raonic also picked up straight-set victories.

On a day that American men went 5-2, led by No 13 John Isner and No 26 Sam Querrey, a handful of seeded players made quick departures.

No 14 Jerzy Janowicz of Poland, a semifinalist at Wimbledon last month, was the most surprising to go, although he was treated by a trainer for a painful back during a 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 loss to 247th-ranked qualifier Maximo Gonzalez of Argentina.

"It was like someone puts a knife through your lower back," Janowicz said.

Janowicz pounded two balls in anger into the stands, swatted one serve underhand and chucked his racket. He argued with the chair umpire.

Other losers included No 15 Nicolas Almagro, No 25 Grigor Dimitrov and No 28 Juan Monaco.

Federer taking it one shot at a time

(China Daily 08/29/2013 page24)

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