Vol. 5 Num 479 Fri. September 30, 2005  

Federer sails through

Roger Federer recovered his poise on Thursday, beating Germany's Denis Gremelmayr 6-3, 6-2 to ease through to the quarterfinals of the Thailand Open.

The Swiss world number one has now won 74 matches this year, matching Spaniard Rafael Nadal, and looked far more comfortable than in his opening match.

Federer's frustration boiled over on Wednesday as he struggled to overcome Brazilian Marcos Daniel and he threw an uncharacteristic temper tantrum by slamming his racket to the ground.

"A different day, a different opponent. It changes everything," said the Wimbledon and US Open champion, who next faces Andy Roddick's US Open conqueror Gilles Muller.

The fluid strokes and aggressive shot-making were back in abundance against Gremelmayr, after Federer held off three break points in the opening game and then broke the left-hander for 2-0.

But although he was never seriously threatened, Federer faced some tense moments as Gremelmayr settled and held a point to break back at 4-2.

Federer escaped when Gremelmayr netted a forehand, and after sealing the first set he broke to love to start the second.

Gremelmayr continued to challenge, hitting some blistering shots from the baseline, and Federer had to fight off three break points in the second game before breaking again to lead 4-1.

"I was in control and didn't have to push 100 per cent all the time," said Federer.

"But he didn't play too bad you know. I really had to play good tennis to come through."

Briton Andy Murray, meanwhile, realised his ambition of a place in the world top 100 by beating Swedish fifth seed Robin Soderling 7-6, 7-6.

The 18-year-old Scot, who was ranked 411th at the end of last season, demonstrated impressive speed around the court to reach his first ATP quarter-final.

"It's a pretty big deal for me, getting to the top 100 when I'm 18," he said.

"I said at the start of the year that's my goal. After the first couple of months a lot of people told me I should have kept quiet, but I'm pretty happy with myself now."

Murray dropped just three points in the first set tiebreak but Soderling broke to lead 4-3 in the second.

Murray reacted positively, forcing an error at the net to level at 4-4 before going on to take the second tiebreak 7-5.

"I wasn't feeling that great towards the end of the first set," said Murray. "But I took a timeout and got some medication from the doctor. I had a really sore head. I don't know why.

"I thought I played a pretty clever match. I used my slice pretty well and I didn't give him so much pace which I think he likes."

Murray's next opponent is third seed and US Open semifinalist Robby Ginepri.

World number one Roger Federer hits a backhand return to Germany's Denis Gremelmayr during the Thailand Open in Bangkok on Thursday. PHOTO: AFP