racquet strings

Federer Doubters Beware

Even after winning his sixth Wimbledon title, his record-breaking 15th major singles title and completing the career Grand Slam by winning the French Open, people are still writing off Roger Federer. Many experts and observers have pegged Andy Murray and Andy Roddick as the favorites to win the US Open – assuming that Federer has lost his competitive zest after achieving his major goals of winning in Paris and eclipsing the all-time major singles title record set by Pete Sampras. Throw in the fact that Roger is now a father of baby twin girls post-Wimbledon and you could theorize that this guy has enough distractions and lack of motivation that he may as well pick out his plot on the grounds of the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I. and start to work on his golf game.

Federer, however, is still very much to be reckoned with – his 6-2, 7-6 (8) win Saturday over Andy Murray in the semifinals of the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters in Cincinnati on Saturday as proof.

In a rare – and perhaps unprecedented – semifinal match between the world No. 1 and world No. 2, it was the top-ranked Federer who controlled the match from the outset, ending a four-match losing skid to the Scotsman and closing gap in the career head-to-head with Murray to 6-3. Federer did, however, dump Murray 6-2, 7-5, 6-2 in the final of the 2008 US Open final last September.

Murray, so frustrated with his play Saturday against Federer, punched his fist against his racquet strings enough to cause bleeding and call for treatment from the ATP trainer.

Federer will be seeking his sixth straight US Open title in New York starting August 31. A win Sunday in Cincinnati will give him a 61st career title, which, according to the book THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS, will move him ahead of Andre Agassi into seventh place alone for most men’s singles titles won in a career. (He will be two shy of overtaking Bjorn Borg and Guillermo Vilas, who each won 62 titles, in jumping into fifth place, and five shy of overtaking Pete Sampras and his 64 titles and moving into fourth place by himself. Jimmy Connors holds the record with 109 singles titles, followed by Ivan Lendl with 94 and John McEnroe with 77.

“He deserved it,” said ESPN2’s Darren Cahill on-air after the match of Roger’s win. “He came out of the blocks on fire. This means something to him…There was a lot for him to prove in this match.”

“It was a tough match,” said Federer on the air on the ESPN2 set after the match. “I have had a tough head to head with Andy in the past… Today, I never really gave him a chance, I didn’t really allow him to play his game and I ended up hanging on to win.”