thursday afternoon

Federer Rallies To Defeat Ferrer In Cincinnati; Murray, Nadal Advance

World No. 1 Roger Federer rallied from a break down in the final set to edge past unseeded Spaniard David Ferrer, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, in extremely windy conditions Thursday afternoon to advance to the quarterfinals at the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters 1000 in Cincinnati.

Federer, who is one victory away from winning his 200 win at an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament, quickly broke the Spaniard in the opening game of the match but was then broken back in the fourth game. Ferrer followed it up by breaking Federer’s serve in the eighth game, before holding serve to win the opening set.

Federer, who lost to Ivo Karlovic last year in the third round in Cincinnati, remained steady despite being down a set and was able to secure a break at 4-3, before holding serve to take the match to a deciding set.

“I think at the beginning maybe my footwork was just a touch off,” said Federer, who reclaimed the No. 1 ranking in July after winning Wimbledon for a sixth time. “After that I think I got it together and started to play better and better.”

In the final set, the 27-year-old Spaniard jumped ahead 3-1 but could not consolidate the break. Ferrer, who had beaten Stanislas Wawrinka and No. 14 seed Marin Cilic earlier in his first two matches, then smashed his racquet in frustration after not being able to take a 4-1 lead.

Federer, who has won a record 15 Grand Slam singles titles, picked up his game tremendously after leveling the match at 3-3. The momentum shifted towards Federer as the Swiss broke Ferrer in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead. Federer then served out the match at ease to advance to his tenth quarterfinal of the season.

“I thought he played a good match,” said Federer, who has won three titles this season.

Federer, who improved to 9-0 against Ferrer, smashed six aces and just two double faults compared to three aces and two double faults by the Spaniard. Federer won 75 percent of first serve points and was able to break serve on four of nine opportunities. Ferrer, who reached the finals earlier this year in Barcelona and Dubai, won 69 percent of first serve points and broke serve on three occasions.

Federer will next face unseeded Australian Lleyton Hewitt, who edged past American Sam Querrey, 6-1, 2-6, 6-3, in one hour and 26 minutes in the final match of the day session on Stadium court.

Also on Stadium Court at the Lindner Family Tennis Center, No. 3 seed Andy Murray of Scotland, who overtook the No. 2 ranking earlier this week from Rafael Nadal, rolled past No. 16 seed Radek Stepanek of Czech Republic, 6-4, 6-1, in one hour and 16 minutes.

The 22-year-old Scot, who is the defending champion in Cincinnati, broke Stepanek’s serve in the second game of the opening set, but was broken on his own serve when he tried serving out the set at 5-3 up. Despite the hiccup near the end of the set, Murray quickly broke back to take the opening set, 6-4.

“I started the match very well, serving well and not giving him any chances,” said Murray, who won the Masters 1000 Montreal tournament last week. “The wind picked up at the end of the first set and he managed to break me. But I played a good game to break back.”

In the second set, Murray had little trouble keeping the momentum on his side, as he broke Stepanek in his first two service games of the set before winning the match on his serve to advance.

Murray, who improved to 3-0 against the 30-year-old Czech Republic native smashed eight aces and won 29 of 38 first serve points. Stepanek, who has won titles earlier this year in Brisbane and San Jose, didn’t have his best serving outing, hitting three aces, three double faults and winning just 51 percent of first serve points.

The Scot, who has won five ATP World Tour titles this year, will next face lucky loser Julien Benneteau, who edge past Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(4), in a three hour and three-minute thriller on the Grandstand court.

In the late match, No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal recovered from a 0-3 deficit to roll past Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu, 7-5, 6-2, in one hour and 55 minutes.

The Spaniard was able to break serve on four of 12 opportunities, while smashing five aces and winning 32 of 41 first serve points. Mathieu was only able to break Nadal’s serve once, which occurred in the early stages of the opening set. The Frenchman hit three aces, three double faults and won 33 of 49 first serve points.

Nadal, who improved to 9-0 lifetime against Mathieu, will take on Czech Republic’s Tomas Berdych on Friday night for a place in the semifinals. Nadal leads the head-to-head 4-3, winning most recently in 2008 in the semifinals in Miami.

Other Winners on Thursday in Cincinnati
Third Round
No. 4 Novak Djokovic def. Jeremy Chardy, 7-5, 6-3
No. 9 Gilles Simon def. No. 8 Nikolay Davydenko, 6-7(6), 6-4, 6-4
Tomas Berdych def. Chris Guccione, 6-4, 6-3

Venus and Serena Williams Eliminated In Cincinnati; Clijsters Wins Again

No. 14 seed Flavia Pennetta continued her winning ways as she dismissed No. 3 seed Venus Williams, 7-6(2), 6-4, on Thursday afternoon to advance to the quarterfinals at the Western & Southern Financial Group Women’s Open in Cincinnati.

The 27-year-old Italian has now won a career-best 14 consecutive matches, which includes winning the title last weekend at the Los Angeles Women’s Open and three weeks ago in Palermo.

“I’m really, really happy,” said Pennetta, who has now beaten three Top 10 players in her winning streak.

Throughout the match, Williams missed many routine shots and seemed out of sorts on the big points. The former World No. 1 had several unforced errors on crucial points in the later stages of the tiebreak that proved costly.

“I don’t feel like I executed my game effectively,” said Williams, who has won more than $1.5 million in tournament prize money this season. “I think I could have been more aggressive and played more in the court.”

Pennetta, who has won eight career singles titles, was steady on her serve and service returns throughout the one hour and 42 minute match. The Italian hit five aces, won 74 percent of first serve points and was able to win 25 of 38 second serve return points.

“After a while, it was obvious to see she was just keeping the ball in play and waiting for me to self destruct,” said Williams, the winner of 41 career singles titles.

As Williams sailed a forehand beyond the baseline, her 38 unforced error of the match, Pennetta raised her arms in excitement. With the victory, Pennetta improves to 4-3 lifetime against Williams, three of five which were played on hard courts.

The Italian advances to her sixth quarterfinal of the season where she will next clash with Slovakian Daniela Hantuchova, who beat No. 7 seed Vera Zvonareva, 7-6(0), 0-6, 7-6(5) in two hours and 50 minutes.

In other matches, the Kim Clijsters’ magical comeback story continues, as the Belgian knocked off No. 6 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russian, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2, to win her third straight match against a Top 20 player in as many outings.

Clijsters, who a received a wild card to play in her first tournament since retiring in May 2007, came out of the starting gates strong for the third consecutive match, hitting remarkable angles as she jumped out to a 3-0 lead. The Belgian had a brief hiccup, as her serve was broke in the seventh game, but was able to regroup to close out the set 6-4.

“I think my mindset was very good,” said Clijsters, the newest mother on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. “”I really felt like in the rallies that I was dominating the points. “

The Belgian jumped out to another quick 3-0 lead to open the second set, before Kuznetsova fired back by winning six of the next seven games to win the second set, 6-4.

“Second set I fought hard. She was a break up and I still came back,” said Kuznetsova, a winner of 11 career singles titles including two grand slams. “

The players took a 10-minute break before the start of the final set due to the heat index rule. When they returned, Clijsters was in complete control throughout the final set, winning in convincing fashion, 6-2. Clijsters now improves to 7-1 lifetime against Kuznetsova.

“I am very happy to be able to stay focused,” said Clijsters. “I have to say I feel really good after this match.”

Clijsters will next face world No. 1 Dinara Safina, who cruised past Shuai Peng, 6-3, 6-4 in the night match.

In the final match on Stadium Court during the day session, unseeded Sybille Bammer upset No. 2 seed Serena Williams, 7-5, 6-4. Williams was off her game from start to finish, hitting 44 unforced errors, 25 of which were in the opening set. The reigning Wimbledon, Australian and US Open champ hit four double faults and just two aces, compared to 13 aces last night in her victory over Kateryna Bondarenko. Bammer, who improves to 2-0 life against Williams, hit nine winners and just 16 unforced errors in the one hour and 35 minute match. Bammer will next face No. 5 Jelena Jankovic, who defeated No. 9 Victoria Azarenka, 7-5, 7-6(4).

Other winners on Thursday in Cincinnati
No. 4 Elena Dementieva def. Sorana Cirstea, 6-4, 6-4
No. 8 Caroline Wozniacki def. Melinda Czink, 3-0 ret. Injury (low back)