New York, Aug 31 : Top-seeded Roger Federer used a second-round victory in the U.S. Open to work on his net game, winning 32 points from the front of the court in Thursday's 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 victory over Bjorn Phau of Germany.
Federer also finished with 15 aces in a 90-minute victory over his 83rd-ranked opponent. Many of those aces were not of the overpowering sort, but acutely angled shots Phau simply couldn't reach. None of this was too unusual considering it was only the second round and Federer is rarely tested before the second week at Flushing Meadows.
But in a different twist, he won nine more points from the net than from the baseline—in part because Phau, with his array of tricky slice and drop shots, was pulling him to the net, and in part because Federer was forcing the issue and trying to end points early.
“I like coming forward when I am up,” Federer said. “Just try maintaining that. And if things don't work out that way, you can always play it safe again.”
Like everything else at Flushing Meadows on this day, Federer's win was overshadowed by Andy Roddick, who announced he'd be retiring after the tournament. Roddick, who dropped the surprise on his 30th birthday, said it was getting harder and harder to keep the tank full at that age—a reality the 31-year-old Federer said “is not an easy one to face.”
“I guess you've got to have that balance between fire and being relaxed and knowing where you are in your life,” Federer said.
He has a much better handle on that than in the late-90s, when he was a struggling junior and Phau was one of his contemporaries.
“I never believed at that moment that I was going to become such a great player,” Federer said. “I was so weak back then. It was just different times.”
No need to remind Phau, who said there was no way to realistically analyze the way he played on a packed night in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
“It's tough to say because those guys always play on courts like this,” Phau said. “For him, it's normal. For me, it's something special.”
Federer improved his U.S. Open record to 63-7 and stayed in the mix for his sixth U.S. Open title, which would be a record in the Open era.
Federer's third-round match is against No. 25 Fernando Verdasco.