Tennis: Being on the front foot is key for Federer

Roger Federer in action against Peter Gojowczyk during their match at the Western & Southern Open tennis tournament on Aug 14, 2018.
Roger Federer in action against Peter Gojowczyk during their match at the Western & Southern Open tennis tournament on Aug 14, 2018.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

CINCINNATI (Ohio) • Roger Federer kick-started his delayed summer hard-court season with a comprehensive 6-4, 6-4 second-round defeat of Peter Gojowczyk on Tuesday in his first ATP Cincinnati Masters appearance since 2015.

In the women's draw, former world No. 1 Serena Williams clinched her first set win against a top-10 player this season, but appeared to run out of gas before losing to Petra Kvitova 6-3, 2-6, 6-3.

Federer was making his first appearance since losing in the Wimbledon quarter-finals on July 11, but the top seed and world No. 2 looked fresh as he overwhelmed the German with pin-point serving and speedy defence.

The 20-time Grand Slam winner, who turned 37 earlier this month, revealed that taking the fight to his opponents was key to his continued success, ahead of the US Open later this month.

"It's important to always try to play your game, especially on faster surfaces, and not be too reactive," he said. "In this day and age, everybody serves big, everybody can hit big from the baseline... so it's important to bring in your own energy, be it the first round or finals."

He confessed that it felt good to get the Wimbledon loss to Kevin Anderson out of his system after stewing over it for more than a month.

"It's nice to have played a match so that my last match was not the Anderson match... you've kind of turned the page," the Swiss said.

"The goal is now to recover from this match and take the positives. The big goal is the US Open."

Federer, who has designs on a first US Open title since 2008, will look to continue towards a record eighth Cincinnati title when he faces the Argentinian Leonardo Mayer in the third round today.

World No. 6 and eighth-seeded Czech Kvitova used her precision serve to overpower Williams.

Just two weeks ago, Williams suffered the worst defeat of her career in San Jose when she was crushed 6-1, 6-0 in 51 minutes by world No. 39 Johanna Konta of Britain.

The 36-year-old, who subsequently withdrew from the WTA Montreal event due to post-natal emotions, admitted she was still on the comeback trail after a lengthy hiatus.

"I'm still at the very beginning," said the 23-time Grand Slam champion. "I'm just going to continue to work hard, and hopefully, I'll start winning more matches."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 16, 2018, with the headline 'Being on the front foot is key for Fed'. Print Edition | Subscribe