MASON, Ohio — Roger Federer’s rough summer finally got a warm moment at one of his favorite tournaments, providing a little encouragement with the U.S. Open just ahead.
Federer overcome a tough start and emerged from his string of subpar showings since Wimbledon, beating Tommy Haas 1-6, 7-5, 6-3 on Thursday to advance to the quarterfinals at the Western & Southern Open.
The fifth-seeded Swiss star has been struggling to get his game back in shape since he was upset at Wimbledon by a player ranked 116th in the world. He has switched rackets and been limited by a sore back.
Finally, his game started to come together at a tournament he’s won an unprecedented five times, including last year.
“Overall, I’m looking at the big picture and just playing matches again,” Federer said. “I want to make sure I’m moving well and feeling fine. A match like this gives me a lot.”
While Federer took a step, No. 1 Novak Djokovic got one win closer to a little ATP history. He needed only 50 minutes to beat qualifier David Goffin, 6-2, 6-0 and reach the quarterfinals.
Djokovic has lost four finals in Cincinnati, the only Masters series event he has yet to win. A victory would make him the first player to win all nine Masters.
“I played four times finals, so it’s been one of the tournaments where I’ve performed well,” Djokovic said. “Never managed to make the final step, and hopefully this year I can do so.
“I have an extra motivation and an opportunity to make history in this tournament, so I’m very inspired to play well day after day.”
Also reaching the quarterfinals were second-seeded Andy Murray, unseeded John Isner, seventh-seeded Juan Martin del Potro and Russian qualifier Dmitry Tursunov, who upset third-seeded David Ferrer.
On the women’s side, second-seeded Victoria Azarenka, fourth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska, fifth-seeded Li Na and 14th-seeded Jelena Jankovic were among those advancing.
It appeared that Federer wasn’t long for the tournament after a stunningly bad start against Haas. The 35-year-old Haas needed only 31 minutes to win the first set and was up 4-2 in the second before Federer started to approach the net, hitting shots with confidence and taking control.
“You know, being down 6-1, 3-1, you don’t feel like Superman out there,” Federer said. “You feel a bit slower, you feel a bit weaker, you feel a bit softer, whatever it is. I was trying to push myself. But at the end, as the match wore on, I felt better.
“That’s always good news.”