Sun, Jan 18, 2009 - Page 20 News List

Federer in crushing final victory

ROGER READY The 13-times Grand Slam winner blew away compatriot Stan Wawrinka in 57 minutes to win the Kooyong Classic and heads into the Australian Open in top form

AFP , MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA

Argentina’s David Nalbandian plays a backhand return to Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen during the final of the Sydney International in Sydney yesterday.

PHOTO: AFP

Roger Federer heads into the Australian Open in devastating form after crushing good friend and compatriot Stan Wawrinka 6-1, 6-3 yesterday to win the Kooyong Classic.

The lethal victory in 57 minutes marked the second title for the Swiss great at the eight-man warm-up tournament after winning it in 2005.

“I played a really great match today,” Federer said. “It was nice, but I don’t want to get too excited. This was my best match of the week. I’m very excited that I played well in the wind and the heat. They are what you have to get used to.”

Federer, seeded second next week, plays with Wawrinka in the Davis Cup and together they won the gold medal in the doubles at the Beijing Olympics last year.

But all friendship was put aside as 13-times Grand Slam winner Federer blew the 23-year-old Wawrinka away.

Wawrinka, 16th in the world, was unable to make any impression in the first set, falling to 0-4 before getting onto the scoreboard. But Federer broke for a third time in the rout to claim the opening set in 26 minutes. Wawrinka’s resistance stiffened a touch in the second set as he pulled his game together after trailing 4-1.

The “younger brother” to Federer on the Swiss Davis Cup team saved a break point in the sixth game for 2-4. But Federer stepped up a further gear, cutting off a return at the net with a crushing volley winner for 5-2. Two games later, Wawrinka saved a match point with a return winner, before Federer provided a fitting conclusion with an overhead smash for victory.

HEINEKEN OPEN

AFP, AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND

Top seed Juan Martin Del Potro maintained his meteoric rise up the tennis world rankings with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Sam Querrey of the US in the final of the Heineken Open yesterday.

The Argentine world No. 9 has risen 56 places in the rankings since the middle of last year and carried the momentum into this year by clearly outclassing the tournament’s sixth seed.

He proved in Auckland — a warm-up for next week’s Australian Open — that he has lost nothing since last year, dropping only one set all week.

“Sam is a very good player with a great serve, but today I won the break points and he didn’t,” Del Potro said.

Querrey said his loss was largely down to being able to successfully land only 55 percent of his first serves.

“I would like to be getting 70 percent or higher on my first serve,” Querrey said.

Del Potro controlled most of the rallies, with Querrey relying largely on his booming first serve and ground shots to keep him in the match.

Querrey served two aces at deuce to go 4-3 ahead in the first set after both players had dropped a serve each.

But Del Potro, playing with greater steadiness than the world No. 36, broke back in the ninth game and went on to hold his serve and secure the first set.

In the fourth game of the second set, Querrey had the chance to grab the first service break. But Del Potro again showed the ability to lift his game when needed, fighting back to blast two aces on the game’s third deuce to draw level at 2-2.

Del Potro grabbed the initiative in the ninth game, pushing his opponent around the court with precision to take a 5-4 lead, before holding serve to secure the title.

■SYDNEY INTERNATIONAL

AFP, SYDNEY

Fourth seed David Nalbandian became the first Argentine to win the Sydney International ATP title with a fighting three-set victory over Finland’s unseeded Jarkko Nieminen yesterday.

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