Six-times champion Roger Federer showed a ruthless streak against one of his best friends on tour when he destroyed Austrian 16th seed Jurgen Melzer 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 to earn a place in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon yesterday.
Federer, who had never faced Melzer at senior level before, produced his full array of wonderful touches and rock-solid serving on Centre Court in sharp contrast to his stuttering performances in the opening two rounds.
“I felt great. I knew it could be a very tricky match and the start was vital. I found my range quickly and was playing well,” Federer said.
“Jurgen is a great player and played well in Paris so this is a good win for me,” he said. “My form is good now, that is what I really care about. It doesn’t matter how I got to this stage.”
“Opponents are getting more and more difficult but I know how to win here and that is a great advantage for me,” Federer said.
The Swiss ace dropped his opening service game but that was about his only slip-up for the rest of the match.
Melzer had never reached this stage of the tournament before and Federer quickly reasserted his supremacy by breaking straight back.
Another break followed soon after as Federer, who has 16 Grand Slam titles to his name, took advantage of some hesitant play from the Austrian.
With Federer comfortable on his serve, Melzer was under intense pressure to hold his own serve and the left-hander crumbled under the strain in the second set.
Federer was able to produce winners on Melzer’s first serve at will and he crushed his opponent’s weak second serves to open up a two-break lead that proved more than enough to take the set.
Melzer couldn’t make any impact on the Federer serve in the third set either and it was only a matter of time before the world No. 2 broke again — in the seventh game — before serving out the match in one hour and 24 minutes.
BATTLE OF BELGIANS
In the women’s singles Kim Clijsters won the battle of the Belgians yesterday when she beat Justine Henin 2-6, 6-2, 6-3 to book her quarter-finals place.
Clijsters edged a close battle against her compatriot, who suffered a fall in the opening set and appeared to damage her right wrist.
After the first two sets were shared in just under an hour, Clijsters made the crucial breakthrough in game eight of the decider and Henin, whose usually fearsome baseline game let her down, had no answer as the eighth seed wrapped up the victory when her opponent netted a forehand return.
In other action five-times champion Venus Williams had to fight long and hard to earn a 6-4, 7-6 win over Australia’s Jarmila Groth.
Venus arrived almost 10 minutes late for the match leaving Groth at the net chatting to the umpire and waiting for her to appear.
Once Venus got started and into gear, one break of serve was enough for the American second seed to take the first set after 35 minutes on Court Two.
But her Slovakian-born opponent, ranked 92 in the world, refused to be overawed by the woman who was won more grass court titles than any other player on the circuit.
The second set was an engrossing battle with Groth fighting tooth-and-nail to stay in the fight.
The winner of the 2008 Taipei Ladies Open served for the set at 5-4 and 6-5 but on each occasion Venus thwarted her, and she did well to recover from 4-0 down in the tiebreak before going down 7-5 when the Australian netted a mid-court forehand after an hour and 37 minutes.