US Open 2015

Tennis: Can Stan sneak up on Roger?

Roger Federer gave a tennis masterclass as he brushed aside the challenge from Richard Gasquet in the quarter-final.
Roger Federer gave a tennis masterclass as he brushed aside the challenge from Richard Gasquet in the quarter-final.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Wawrinka learns from top guns but Federer is a big s-final hurdle as he's no one-trick pony

NEW YORK • Stan Wawrinka has admitted that he has no reservations about imitating his rivals' tricks of the trade, including Roger Federer's latest weapon - the "SABR".

The latter has recently developed a new chip-and-charge return approach on second serves which has been called "Sneak Attack By Roger" or "SABR" for short.

Wawrinka used his own version of the tactic on Wednesday in his 6-4, 6-4, 6-0 US Open quarter-final win over South Africa's Kevin Anderson. But the question now is whether he can beat his close friend and fellow Swiss at his own game in today's semi-finals.

Federer though is no one-trick pony. The five-time champion showed an array of weapons in a tennis masterclass on Wednesday, routing Richard Gasquet 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 to reach his 10th US Open semi-final.

Federer could hardly miss and Gasquet all too often played the role of innocent bystander in the 87-minute mauling.

  • RESULTS

  • US Open

    Men's singles q-finals

    Stan Wawrinka (Sui) bt Kevin Anderson (Rsa) 6-4 6-4 6-0, Roger Federer (Sui) bt Richard Gasquet (Fra) 6-3 6-3 6-1.

    Women's q-finals

    Flavia Pennetta (Ita) bt Petra Kvitova (Cze) 4-6 6-4 6-2, Simona Halep (Rom) bt Victoria Azarenka (Blr) 6-3 4-6 6-4.

    Women's doubles s-finals

    Martina Hingis/Sania Mirza (Sui/Ind) bt Sara Errani/Flavia Pennetta (Ita/Ita) 6-4 6-1.

    Mixed doubles s-finals

    Bethanie Mattek-Sands/Sam Querrey (USA) bt Andrea Hlavackova/Lukasz Kubot (Pol) 6-4 6-3, Martina Hingis/Leander Paes (Sui/Ind) bt Chan Yung-jan/Rohan Bopanna (Tpe/Ind) 6-2 7-5.

    AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

The Swiss maestro uncorked 50 winners to a mere eight from Gasquet and the record 17-time grand slam winner has been looking like a new, improved and revitalised model of late.

"Since a few years now, or many years, I have tried to look at the big picture to hopefully still be playing at a high level at this age," said the 34-year-old. He did not face a single break point against the Frenchman and has reached the semi-finals without dropping a set.

"I have been able to take the ball earlier and I think I'm volleying better than I have the last 10 years."

But the world No. 2 will be wary of the danger posed by Wawrinka despite holding a 16-3 career edge.

All three of Wawrinka's wins came on clay, including their last meeting at Roland Garros in May.

Wawrinka won their French Open quarter-final encounter in straight sets en route to winning his second Major title.

"Stan played wonderfully against me in Paris and I was happy for him that he won the title. He really deserved it," said Federer.

"He has worked so hard and really improved. I am happy to play him here for the first time.

"It's cool for us and Switzerland."

Wawrinka sent Anderson packing in just 107 minutes. The third set alone was all over in 25 minutes, with the 15th-seeded Anderson winning just five points.

Wawrinka will be making his second US Open last-four appearance, with the other in 2013.

"I think the past three years, for sure, I get closer to him (Federer)," said the fifth seed.

"He's playing really well so far... It's going to be a big challenge. I think I'm ready."

The 30-year-old also revealed that one of the reasons he has progressed is because he learns from the best in the business.

"Just the reason why I improve so much the past few years, it's also because I'm looking a lot what the top guys are doing - Novak (Djokovic), Roger, Rafa (Nadal)," he said.

"We all see what Roger is doing right now. It's quite impressive," he added, referring to Federer's new return approach.

"He's doing it against everybody. I saw him play also against Anderson in Cincinnati and I was surprised how close he was returning.

"But it's actually a good way against Anderson to be closer than behind because you completely cut the time from him."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

US OPEN

Mixed doubles final: StarHub Ch201, midnight

Men's singles s-finals: Tomorrow, 3am

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 11, 2015, with the headline 'Can Stan sneak up on Roger?'. Print Edition | Subscribe