By Ros Satar, in Cincinnati

  • Seven-time Cincinnati champion Roger Federer made his return to the US hard-courts with a solid win over Peter Gojowczyk
  • Petra Kvitova wins mental challenge to beat Serena Williams
CINCINNATI, USA – Tuesday at the Western & Southern Open came to a close with a block-buster cast providing the fireworks as Roger Federer cruised and Serena fell in second action.

 

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Roger Federer [2] def. Peter Gojowczyk 6-4 6-4

Roger Federer in the second round of the Western & Southern Open, ATP Cincinnati 2018

Roger Federer in the second round of the Western & Southern Open, ATP Cincinnati 2018 | (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Having looked relaxed after extending his post Wimbledon break for a further week after skipping Toronto, World No. 2 and a seven-time champion here, Roger Federer coasted in to the third round, against Peter Gojowczyk showing no signs of rust at all.

Many thought he would have picked up Slam title number 21 at Wimbledon but an inspired performance by Kevin Anderson cut that dream short. As Federer goes past his 37th birthday though, the focus is still very much on picking up the big title – none more so than a US Open title in a few weeks’ time.

With Rafael Nadal having withdrawn from the Western and Southern Open after his Rogers Cup win, Federer did find himself facing a little resistance from the German, deflecting two break points and getting his own break and holding on to the advantage for a first set lead.

The start of the second set saw Federer break Gojowczyk immediately and did not face a break point on his own serve for the rest of the match.

“I felt good in that first match, to be honest, walking out, hardly any nerves. I think I knew what I wanted to do, what I had to do. Game plan is very simple. It’s straightforward. It’s fast-court tennis.

“I think Centre court plays much faster than the outside courts, so you don’t have much time. Plus I knew Peter, my opponent, was going to go for it and take big cuts at the ball, so there is only so much you can really do. That’s why you want to play aggressive yourself.

“It’s nice to have played a match so my last match is not the Anderson match, so you’ve kind of turned the page, I guess, in that regard. It’s a good thing. But, you know, the goal is now to recover from this match, take the positives with me, and it’s just nice to have sort of a day and a half where you can prepare for the next one, and you’re really in the tennis tournament again and away from the practice sessions.

“Of course, the big goal is the US Open. That’s got to be the goal now after not having perfect, situations the last couple of years there. I wasn’t 100% there. I couldn’t even play the year before that. That’s why I would really like to be at 100% for the US Open this year.”

Federer will face Leonardo Mayer in the third round.

 

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Petra Kvitova [8] def. Serena Williams 6-3 2-6 6-3

Serena Williams in the second round of the Western & Southern Open, WTA Cincinnati 2018

Serena Williams in the second round of the Western & Southern Open, WTA Cincinnati 2018 | Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

Many would have been surprised at Serena Williams start to the hard-court season after reaching the Wimbledon final in just her fourth tournament back. Her candidness of her struggles seemed cathartic, as she looked in impressive form in her opener against Daria Gavrilova, but she met her match in one of the most in-form players this year – Petra Kvitova.

When you consider everything this pair have been through in the last 18 months, it is a testament to both these players that they put on a competitive show. Kvitova was the one putting all the pressure on, rewarded for her persistence with two breaks to seal the first set.

The second set had a lot more ebbs and flows, with Williams doggedly sticking to Kvitova like glue, getting on top of a long service game, edging ahead on a fifth break point. For the lead. She delivered a second blow to set up a deciding set.

A brace of breaks to start the third set showed the level of fight and nerves (in roughly equal proportion) but it was Williams who blinked first, handing over a break for Kvitova to take a 4-2 lead. It was enough to keep her ahead for a spot n the third round, as she bids to advance beyond he semi-finals for the first time since 2012, and indeed record back to back matches.

Williams acknowledged that in just her sixth tournament back since the birth of her daughter, there were still a lot of areas that needed to improve.

“I think she served a little bit better than I did. I couldn’t hold on to my serve in the end, and I think that made the biggest difference. “I think it was a good match today. We both played at a really high level. Only one person could win.

“I think I just definitely want to get a more consistent serve, more than anything, and return more consistently. Basically, my whole game needs to improve.”

From a dominant start in their head to head where Williams won the first five encounters, the tide has turned towards the Czech who has won the last three matches in a row with the addition of one walkover.

“It’s fun to play, for me. I know it’s not about the forehand or backhand or serve. It’s like a mental game, as well, you know, still staying there and be focusing on every point. You need to play well, you need to serve well, because she’s serving well almost every time. So it’s just about the staying really very focused and every single point.”

Play continues at 11am at the Western & Southern Open (4pm BST).

 

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