Canas does the impossible yet again

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THE NEW BOGEYMAN? Guillermo Canas seems to be making a habit of beating Roger Federer, coming up on top in back-to-back tournaments. Photo: AFP
THE NEW BOGEYMAN? Guillermo Canas seems to be making a habit of beating Roger Federer, coming up on top in back-to-back tournaments. Photo: AFP

MIAMI: Re-matches became repeats for Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova at the Sony Ericsson Open on Tuesday. Both lost.

Guillermo Canas upset the top-ranked Federer for the second time this month in a fourth round epic which ended 7-6(2), 2-6, 7-6(5).

Serena Williams beat Sharapova 6-1, 6-1 in a rout reminiscent of their Australian Open final two months ago. With that, Key Biscayne's No. 1 players were both eliminated.

Two weeks ago, Canas ended Federer's 41-match winning streak at Indian Wells. The dogged Argentine showed the victory was no fluke, extending points by repeatedly chasing down shots and forcing a frustrated Federer into 51 unforced errors.

``It's one of those matches I should never have lost,'' Federer said.

The defeat ended his bid for a third successive Key Biscayne title while Canas improved to 3-0 this year against the top-10 players. He was ranked as high as No. 8 before serving a 15-month doping suspension, and he had to qualify for the Key Biscayne draw. He's the first qualifier in nine years to reach the quarterfinals.

``I have beaten the No. 1 two times in a row. I don't know what the secret is,'' Canas said. ``I'm just trying to enjoy the moment. For me it's like a dream.''


Serena, who defeated Sharapova 6-1, 6-2 in the Australian Open final, won even more easily this time. When asked if she expected such an easy rematch, Serena said: ``Haven't you learned that I expect the best of myself?

"If I'm playing well, then anything can happen. I believe there could be a similar score if I'm playing well,'' she added.

With a parade of Grand Slam champions on the schedule, Canas won the biggest cheers. South Florida's large Latin population made for a festive atmosphere with fans singing and waving Argentine flags, and shouting ``Willy!'' Canas's nickname.

``As long as they don't boo my Swiss flag, it's ok,'' Federer said. ``This was a nice atmosphere to play in.''

Federer may play the big points as well as anyone ever, but Canas was better at the pivotal moments. The Argentine kept his cool in the tense tie-breakers while Federer looked shaken at times and converted only four of 16 break point chances.

The match turned with Canas serving at 0-2 in the final set. Federer had four break points, each a chance to pull away, and he failed to convert them.

Turning point

The decisive moment in the second tie-breaker came with Federer serving at 4-5. Canas hit a short, high lob, and Federer handled it like a weekend hacker.

``I didn't want to let it bounce,'' he said. ``It's a tough shot to hit. I mean, I guess at 1-0, 15-love in the first set, that's not a problem. But it was tough. It was getting into the night. It kind of made it a bit tricky, and I messed it up.''

Canas then closed out the match with a 125-mph service winner. That made Federer 0-2 against Canas this year.

Next month the tour moves to clay Canas's best surface and Federer's worst. How will Federer shake the slump? ``I'm not going to play him every week, so it doesn't matter,'' Federer said.

Tough encounter

In the second round of men's doubles, Leander Paes and his Czech partner Martin Damm overcame the Austrian combination of Julien Knowle and Jurgen Melzer 6-4, 6-7(1), 10-6 (tiebreak).

The results: Men (fourth round): Andy Murray bt Paul-Henri Mathieu 2-6, 7-5, 6-3; Andy Roddick bt David Ferrer 7-5, 6-3; Tommy Robredo bt Radek Stepanek 7-6(4), 5-7, 7-6(3); Juan Ignacio Chela bt Amer Delic 6-3, 6-2; Guillermo Canas bt Roger Federer 7-6(2), 2-6. 7-6(5); Ivan Ljubicic bt Jarkko Nieminen 7-6(4), 6-4; Novak Djokovic bt Feliciano Lopez 6-0, 6-3; Rafael Nadal bt Juan Martin del Potro 6-0, 6-4.

Women: Quarterfinals: Anna Chakvetadze bt Li Na 4-6, 7-5, 6-2. Justine Henin bt Nadia Petrova 7-6(4), 7-6(4); Fourth round: Serena Williams bt Maria Sharapova 6-1, 6-1. AP

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