Health concerns of Fish give Federer free passage into US Open last eight

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Roger Federer progressed to the quarter-finals of the US Open without hitting a ball yesterday as Mardy Fish pulled out of their scheduled fourth-round match for health reasons.

The American needed minor surgery earlier this year to correct an irregular heartbeat and admitted after his five-set second-round win over Nikolay Davydenko that doubts over his health remained.

Fish then had another long match against Gilles Simon in the third round, after which he did not do a press conference because of medical reasons.

The 30-year-old did not practise on Sunday and, although no further explanation has been given for his withdrawal, it is believed to be because of worries over his heart.

The walkover means Federer extended his record of consecutive grand slam quarter-finals to 34, and in the last eight tomorrow he will play sixth seed Tomas Berdych.

The Czech has looked in fine form this tournament and reached his first quarter-final at Flushing Meadows with a dominant 7-6 (7/4) 6-4 6-1 victory over 11th seed Nicolas Almagro.

In the women’s draw, Ana Ivanovic reached her first grand slam quarter-final since winning the French Open in 2008 with a 6-0 6-4 victory over Tsvetana Pironkova. She will meet Serena Williams, who destroyed Andrea Hlavackova 6-0 6-0 in 57 minutes.

Laura Robson, the 18-year-old Londoner who had beaten Kim Clijsters and Li Na, was ousted by last year’s winner Sam Stosur 6-4 6-4 in the fourth round.

The Australian needed nine match points to finally see off Robson’s challenge, though.

British No 3 Robson knows she can take nothing but positives from her run, which should see her world ranking climb to around 75th from her current position of 89.