Roger Federer easily reaches US Open's 4th round
Updates with new lead, Federer quotes. With AP Photos.
AP Tennis Writer
NEW YORK (AP) - Roger Federer wanted to make a distinction about the way things have gone for him in 2013.
"It's been a tough year,'' Federer acknowledged, "but it hasn't been a horrible year.''
He's looking pretty good so far at the U.S. Open, working quickly to move into the fourth round at Flushing Meadows for the 13th consecutive time.
Finishing points with early winners from all angles, 17-time Grand Slam champion Federer raced through a 6-3, 6-0, 6-2 victory over 63rd-ranked Adrian Mannarino of France in only 1 hour, 21 minutes Saturday night. Through three matches, Federer has spent 4 1/2 hours on court, dropping a total of only 21 games.
"You come to New York, and if you're not excited anymore, you're in the wrong place. ... You don't like the sport the way you should,'' he said. "If you don't put in 100 percent effort here or in other places that really you care about, then something's wrong with you. ... I'm just totally excited being here. I have always enjoyed playing here. Have never had a bad tournament at the U.S. Open.''
This is the 56th consecutive major tournament Federer has entered, tying the men's record held by Wayne Ferreira.
Federer won five consecutive U.S. Opens from 2004-08, and next plays 19th-seeded Tommy Robredo of Spain. Federer has won all 10 of their previous matches.
"I know his game well,'' Federer said.
If he makes that head-to-head record 11-0, Federer could face 12-time major champion Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals in what would be the rivals' 32nd meeting - but first at Flushing Meadows. Not only have they met at each of the other Grand Slam tournaments, they've met in the final at Wimbledon, the French Open and Australian Open.
"I don't look ahead, even though I understand the urge of the press to try to go there already, which is entirely normal. I have gone through that my entire career, people talking about our matches even before the tournament started,'' Federer said. "We're used to it. We know how to handle it. Clearly I think we both hope it's going to happen this time, for the first time in New York.''
He is seeded No. 7, a year after being No. 1 at Flushing Meadows. Federer won one tournament this season, which would be fine for some guys, but Federer topped 10 titles three times, and hasn't won fewer than three in any season since 2001.
Federer has been ranked No. 1 for more weeks than any man in history, but his current spot is his lowest since he was No. 8 in 2002. He has dealt with pain in his lower back and experimented with using a larger racket head.
And his record streak of reaching the quarterfinals at 36 straight Grand Slam tournaments ended with a second-round loss at Wimbledon to an opponent ranked outside the top 100.
"I'm still ranked in the top 10,'' he reminded a reporter who asked about this being a down season by his standards. "OK, I have had better years, no doubt about it. But I can still play great tennis and sort of 10 months ago I was world No. 1.''
Against Mannarino, he compiled a 34-8 edge in winners.
"He was playing too good for me, that's for sure,'' Mannarino said. "I was making a lot of mistakes, but that's because of Roger. He's playing too fast.''
One key: Federer repeatedly whipped deep returns off the left-handed Mannarino's soft second serves. Another: Federer won 36 of 39 points on his first serve.
"I think I was able to really use my serve well, because it was breezy tonight again. I used the wind a bit better and I had more variation than him, which gave me more margin in my game,'' Federer said. "I won the first set and I was able to play with the lead, and that makes things easier, as well.''
A run-around, inside-in forehand return winner off a 90 mph second serve gave Federer a break to 3-1 in the first set, establishing a pattern.
Mannarino, whose fourth-round appearance at Wimbledon this year was his best showing at a major tournament, fell to 0-7 against players ranked in the top 10. That includes an 0-3 mark against Federer, losing all eight sets between them.
Federer was asked whether he was disappointed at all that Saturday's match was so short, depriving him of a chance to enjoy the electric atmosphere that often accompanies night sessions in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
"I like it like this, you know,'' Federer said with a smile. "I like three hours, five hours, too - as long as I end up winning them.''
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