NEW YORK (Reuters) - Roger Federer hopes a return to one of his favorite surfaces will help him avenge his only defeat to Robin Soderling when they clash in the quarter-finals of the U.S. Open on Wednesday.
Federer won his first 12 matches with the big-serving Swede but spoiled his perfect record when he lost to Soderling in the quarter-finals of this year’s French Open.
The pair are again drawn to face each other in the final eight of a grand slam, and while the hardcourts at Flushing Meadows have traditionally favored Federer, he remains wary after their last clash.
“I expect it to be really tough, especially now that he’s gotten a taste of how to beat me,” Federer said. “It’s up to me to clean up my game and put in a good performance.
Federer was denied his sixth straight U.S. Open title when he lost the final to Juan Martin del Potro last year but is in great form this time, winning his first four matches in straight sets.
Soderling has had to work a little harder, taken to five sets in the opening round and four in his last match, but holds no fears about playing the world number two.
“I played him so many times, I know his game and he knows mine,” said Soderling. “I’m pretty sure how I need to play to have a chance to win but, you know, it’s going to be extremely difficult if I play Roger.”
The winner will play either Novak Djokovic or Gael Monfils in Saturday’s semi-finals.
Djokovic, a finalist in New York three years ago, is the overwhelming favorite to advance after winning his last four matches against Monfils, the first Frenchman in a decade to reach the quarters of the U.S. Open.
But the Serbian, who was taken to five sets in his opening match, expects a tough workout from the 17th seeded Monfils, who has been in great form this year.
“We have a lot of respect for each other. We grew up together. We are from the same generation in juniors,” Djokovic said. “We met a lot of times in the tournaments, so it’s no secret in our games. I guess he’s kind of flashy. If he starts playing well, he can beat anyone because he’s so fast.”
Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki, last year’s runner-up, faces an unlikely opponent in Slovakia’s Dominika Cilbulkova, the only unseeded player left in the championship.
Top seed Wozniacki has been the form player in the past month winning three lead-up events and not yet dropping a set in the tournament, coming through her first big test against Maria Sharapova with flying colors.
“I definitely feel I’m playing good tennis,” Wozniacki said. “But I still feel I go out there and I need to fight for every point because nothing comes easy.”
Wimbledon champion Vera Zvonareva is the last Russian woman left in the draw after her compatriots all fell by the wayside. She plays Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi on Wednesday with both players bidding for their first semi-final appearance in New York.
Editing by Frank Pingue