Federer survives Cilic challenge; Qualifies for ATP World Tour Finals

Five-time champion Roger Federer defeated No. 27 seed Marin Cilic of Croatia 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 on Saturday for a fourth round berth at the US Open.

The Swiss superstar's victory ensured he became the fourth player to qualify for the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at London in November. The 30-year-old Swiss native will be making his 10th straight appearance in the season finale, where he is a five-time champion. He won successive titles in 2003-04 when the tournament was held in Houston and in 2006-07 in Shanghai. He is the third player to qualify for the season finale for 10 or more consecutive years, joining Ivan Lendl (12) and Pete Sampras (11).

"It feels great to qualify once again," said Federer, who has a 34-7 career record in the season-ending championship. "I had a great week at The O2 last year so I look forward to defending my title. The atmosphere there is incredible."

Federer improved to a 59-6 match record at Flushing Meadows with victory in two hours and 40 minutes on Arthur Ashe Stadium. The 30 year old hit 31 winners and six aces, winning 23 of his 32 approaches to the net.

"I'm on track because I'm in the tournament," said Federer. "That's the most important at the end of the day. I seriously don't care how I'm playing. I wish I play my best every single time and feel amazing.  That's not reality. That's what the beauty is of this game, trying to find a way to win when you're not feeling great. That's what I was able to do today. As long as I'm in the tournament I know I have a shot, and that's what it's about right now."

Cilic, currently No. 28 in the South African Airways 2011 ATP Rankings, turned the match around by converting his second of two break point opportunities in the 10th game of the second set.
The 22 year old double faulted at 4-4 in the third set to hand Federer an opportunity to serve out the set.

World No. 3 Federer then opened up a 3-1 lead with an unreturned serve in the fourth set. The pair traded game points on Cilic's serve at 2-4, before the Croatian missed a forehand to be broken again. Minutes later, Federer improved to a 45-11 match record on the season.

"I thought it was a tough match," reflected Federer. "Coming in I knew it was going to be tricky, and I'm happy that I was able to counter his pace and his good play. It was a tricky match, especially at one-set all. In the third set in the beginning I thought that was a key moment because he had momentum on his side. I was not returning and serving exactly the way I wanted, but I was able to turn it around and finished strong in the set. Then in the fourth things were a bit easier."

The third seed will next play Argentinean Juan Monaco in the fourth round. Federer is looking to equal Andre Agassi's Open Era record of 46 career hard-court titles.

Date: 04.09.2011, Source: ATP


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