CINCINATTI: A weekend title defeat in Canada did not dent the growing hopes of resurgent Roger Federer as the world number three keeps to a steady pace in his buildup for the US Open starting in a fortnight.
The Swiss, who turned 33 last week, said that his 7-5, 7-6 (7/2) weekend finals loss in Toronto to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was a disappointment but also a huge chance to gather more information on the current state of his improving game, which is bolstered by a fearsome new racquet.
While the Swiss missed out on his third title of the season after playing in seven finals, he did start putting the pieces in place as he begins as second seed at this week’s final pre-grand slam tune-up, the Cincinnati Masters.
“I’m overall pretty happy that I made the finals in my first tournament back on hard courts,” Federer said after going down to Tsonga. “I had a few tough matches which clearly gave me a lot of information.
“I know what I need to work on the next few days and next few weeks, which is good to know what I need to do other than feeling lost. I wish I could have played a bit better in the final, but the facts were that it was tough for me.
“There were things I could have done better, but overall it was a positive week. I go away from this feeling good about my chances and also at the US Open and for the rest of the season.
“It’s another good tournament for me, which I’m happy about.”
Federer will be bidding to win his sixth trophy in Cincinnati — where the women are also competing. After a first-round bye he starts in the second round with the winner from Canadian Vasek Pospisil and Czech veteran Radek Stepanek.
Toronto protagonists made their way quickly to Cincinnati for the week of polish on the hardcourt, with Tsonga flying out of Canada on Sunday night with his team to be ready for Monday practice in Ohio.
Federer also had a late afternoon session in the steamy heat which always characterises the week in the Midwest.
On court in the first round, Spanish 16th seed Tommy Robredo advanced over American Jack Sock 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 while a pair of Germans advanced.
Philipp Kohlschreiber beat Jeremy Chardy of France 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 and Benjamin Becker surprised Ivo Karlovic 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 to end a six-match losing streak against the giant Croat.
In women’s opening-round matches, American teenager Taylor Townsend beat Czech Klara Koukalova 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 while 19-year-old Madison Keys put out Alize Cornet of France 6-2, 6-4.
Elina Svitolina of the Ukraine defeated Lauren Davis of the US 6-3, 6-2; China’s Zhang Shuai beat British qualifier Heather Watson 6-3, 2-6, 7-5.