- Roger Federer - tennis - USA
Roger Federer waited until the last moment to start the rescue of his No.1 ranking, overcoming Robby Ginepri 6-7 (2/7), 7-6 (7/5), 6-0 on Tuesday at the ATP Cincinnati Masters.
The second-round drama in two hours, 13 minutes showed the Swiss just how tough it will be to hold off the field as he tries to extend his 235 weeks on top of the rankings.
With Rafael Nadal pressing, if Federer goes out in his title defence before the semi-finals and the Spaniard wins the event - it would be his eighth of the season - the top ranking changes hands.
Ginepri put on a show for home fans after losing to Federer in their four previous matches, winning a break-marred opening set in a tie-breaker after grabbing a 1-5 lead in the decider.
Federer continued to have trouble in the second, losing serve in the 11th game for 5-6 and only just getting it back. Once again, the match needed a tie-breaker, with the Swiss surviving to force a third set.
Suddenly, as if switching on a light, the top seed ran away to victory, with 20 aces, 78 winners but conversions on only six of 16 break points.
If Nadal moved into the top position, the swoop would end a phenomenal run for Federer.
With his his four and a half years in the top spot, Federer remains fourth on the all-time list behind the Pete Sampras (286 weeks, 1993-2000), Ivan Lendl (270 weeks, 1983-1990) and Jimmy Connors (268 weeks, 1974-1983).
Nadal prefers not to ponder his chances.
"I'm playing well and I'm happy because I've played very good tournaments in the past months," Nadal said.
In another second-round match, Swede Robin Soderling put out Spain's 12th seed Tommy Robredo 7-6 (8/6), 6-4.
Richard Gasquet advanced through an all-French showdown as Michael Llodra retired trailing 3-6, 6-1, 1-0 with an arm injury in the first round.
"I saw it when I break him at 4-2 in the first set," said Gasquet. "It was difficult for me. I wasn't in a great shape and it was hot."
Gasquet, 23-15 this year, moved into a match with Russian Dmitry Tursunov, who advanced on Monday as irate Marat Safin stopped play on the final point of their opening contest.
American John Isner set an ATP record by winning very one of his 39 first-serve points as he beat Italian Andrea Stoppini 7-6 (7/2), 6-3 adding 187 aces to make his point.
Two more French players advanced as Florent Serra beat Germanys Benjamin Becker 4-6, 7-6 (8/6), 6-4. Arnaud Clement won a battle of veterans over Swede Thomas Johansson 7-6 (7/4), 6-7 (5/7), 6-3.
Qualifier Chris Guccione of Australia won his first ATP-level match since early June, ending four losses as he beat Jesse Levine 6-3, 6-4.