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Federer flies past Aussie Groth

By Liz Kobak
Friday, August 29, 2014

WHAT HAPPENED: Five-time US Open Champion Roger Federer blunted the big serve of Australian Sam Groth, advancing to the US Open’s third round for the 15th consecutive year.

Hitting punishing serves, flawless passing shots and pressing groundstrokes, No. 2 Federer won the match, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4, in convincing fashion. Accustomed to playing in front of a star-studded audience in Arthur Ashe Stadium, Federer showed incredible mental toughness and fight against Groth, winning 84 percent of his first-serve points and breaking his opponent's supersonic delivery five times. Groth, making his US Open debut, hung in with his experienced opponent for a time, but ultimately couldn't match the 17-time Grand Slam singles champion in the crunch.

With both men coming up with big serves to initiate point play, the returner was placed more under pressure. Federer notched the match's first break at 4-3 in the first, and went on to take the set.

Frustration haunted the 6-foot-4 Groth as he blasted a ball into the crowd after being broken in the first game of the second. Seemingly more calm and collected after disposing of his backwards cap, Groth broke right back as errors plagued Federer. When serving, the Australian kept telling himself: “first point.” Yet while Groth approached the net fearlessly behind his 140 mph-plus serves, he could not execute well enough at the net off of Federer’s forceful returns. In classic Federer fashion, he shut out his opponent after getting the break at 4-4 to take the second set.

"Maybe the pressure got to him a little bit just because of my opportunities I created," said Federer, who returned one serve that clocked at 147 mph.

The third set contained breathtaking tennis, from Federer’s on-the-run lob winners to Groth smashing volleys into the open court when down break points. Aggressive play from Groth and a netted groundstroke off of Federer’s forehand gave the Aussie his biggest lead of the match at 4-2. But one point away from a 5-2 lead in the third, Groth made volley errors and let Federer reel in four consecutive games for the match. For the second time under the lights here this year, Federer won in straight sets, earning his 69th US Open victory.

WHAT IT MEANS: New Yorkers and tennis fans alike can continue watching 17-time Grand Slam champion Federer in superb playing form that makes him a favorite at this year's US Open. Winning in New York would be the icing on the cake for a successful summer for Federer, who earlier won Halle and Cincinnati, and reached the finals of the Canadian Open and Wimbledon. In an interview leading up to the Open, Federer said having former world No. 1 Stefan Edberg as his coach has positively impacted match performances.

Arguably the greatest player to ever grace a tennis court, Federer showed tonight how much hunger he has for claiming another title in New York. In what has been considered his best season since 2012, the Swiss master improved his already-stellar 2014 hard-court record to 35-5. In his first Flushing Meadows appearance, Groth couldn't dent one of the game's all-time greats with his serve, and bowed out, as so many who've taken on Federer here have done. It was surely a life-changing experience for Groth, whose best ATP result to date was reaching the semis of Newport earlier in the summer.

Up next for Roger Federer is Spaniard Marcel Granollers, who took out Croat Ivo Karlovic in five sets, 7-6, 6-7, 7-6, 3-6, 6-4.

THE QUESTION: Will Granollers take a set off of the five-time US Open champ Federer in their match?