Federer given test by Kiefer

Last updated at 08:47 07 September 2005

German Nicolas Kiefer gave top seed Roger Federer all he could handle before succumbing to the Swiss world number one 6-4 6-7 (3/7) 6-4 6-3 in the US Open.

Federer had posted three consecutive straight-sets victories, although he had lengthy matches with Fabrice Santoro of France and Belgian 27th seed Olivier Rochus the previous two rounds.

Those challenges paled in comparison to the fight Kiefer gave Federer, who dropped a set for the first time in 11 Grand Slam matches.

The last time Federer had done so was against Kiefer in the fourth round at Wimbledon, which he went on to win for a third straight year.

But despite his inconsistent play, Federer did enough to advance, breaking Kiefer five times, including at least once in each set.

In the fourth set, Federer broke Kiefer in the third game, then held thereafter, closing out the match in three hours two minutes with a crosscourt forehand winner that barely stayed in.

"I feel very good right now because that was a tough match," Federer said in an on-court interview at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Federer, who beat Kiefer for the sixth straight time, won his 32nd consecutive hardcourt match and improved to 42-1 on the surface and 68-3 overall this year.

The defending US Open champion committed an uncharacteristic 33 unforced errors against 43 winners. Kiefer had 48 winners but 46 unforced errors, including 11 double-faults.

Next up for Federer is 11th seed David Nalbandian of Argentina, a 4-6 7-6 (7/4) 6-4 6-2 winner over Italy's Davide Sanguinetti.

Federer has won just two of his seven encounters with Nalbandian, though he has won the last two.

"I have got a bad record versus Nalbandian, so I would like to play him," Federer said after the match.

Nalbandian has made the quarter-finals in two of the first three majors this year while Sanguinetti has not made it that far in a Grand Slam since Wimbledon in 1998.

Federer's victim in the final here last year, Australian Lleyton Hewitt, had a considerably easier time.

Hewitt through

The third-seeded Hewitt advanced to the quarter-finals with an easy 6-1 6-4 6-2 victory over 15th seed Dominik Hrbaty of Slovakia.

On Sunday, Hewitt reached the last 16 at a Grand Slam for the eighth straight time with a five-set victory over American Taylor Dent.

In that match, Hewitt needed three hours 21 minutes to get past Dent, who had won two of the first three sets.

"It's always nice to get through, especially coming off a match like Taylor, which could have gone either way in a lot of ways, only a couple points here and there," Hewitt said.

"It's nice to go out there and bounce back like I did.

"It's even better after playing a long match and you pull up and your body feels good as well. You don't have any doubts in your mind about your body - that's a huge positive."

Hewitt began the Open with an easy victory over Spain's Albert Costa but in his next two matches, against Argentine Jose Acasuso and Dent, he needed a combined five hours 48 minutes to win.

As such, Hewitt and coach Roger Rasheed developed a game plan that would get him finished quicker.

"I wasn't trying to go out there and make it into a marathon match," Hewitt said. "You know, I'm very happy to get away with the win that I got and be in the locker room after a comfortable win, as well, and not waste a lot of energy."

Hewitt won the first set easily, took the final three games of the second set and, after falling behind 2-1 in the third, the 24-year-old Aussie won the last five games to complete the match in 94 minutes.

The 2001 US Open champion and runner-up last year, Hewitt clinched the match with two of his 11 aces in the final game.

Hewitt finished with just 15 unforced errors while Hrbaty committed 49.

Hewitt, who reached the quarter-finals at the Open for the sixth straight year, is one match away from a potential semi-final encounter with Federer.

But Hewitt first must get past Jarkko Nieminen, who became the first Finn to reach the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam with a 6-2 7-6 (8/6) 6-3 victory over Spain's Fernando Verdasco.

In the only matchup between left handers at the US Open, Nieminen had only 14 winners, including just one ace, but committed just 14 unforced errors. Verdasco, who had won 11 of his previous 13 matches, had 45 winners but committed 66 unforced errors.

After dropping the second set, in which he held a set point in the tiebreaker, the Spaniard slammed his racket to the ground.

Sorry we are not currently accepting comments on this article.