US Open: Roger Federer survives first round scare, Rafael Nadal wins in straight sets – Roger Federer was tested by 19-year-old Frances Tiafoe in the first round.
Roger Federer (AFP)
World number three Roger Federer survived a first-round scare from Frances Tiafoe before grinding out a 4-6 6-2 6-1 1-6 6-4 victory over the American teenager in front of a raucous crowd at the U.S. Open on Tuesday.
Federer looked more relieved than overjoyed when Tiafoe’s forehand found the net on match point to keep his hopes of a 20th grand slam title alive.
“We had a good fight,” Federer said in an on-court interview. “It was exciting and this is why I came to New York, to go through these emotions,” he said with a laugh.
The 19-year-old Tiafoe broke Federer in the first game of the match and bellowed out a loud “Come on!” when his forehand winner found the line to capture the opening set.
Federer, who has won this year’s Australian Open and Wimbledon since taking a six-month break last year, soon found his groove once he broke Tiafoe to take a 3-1 lead in the second set and reeled off nine of the next 10 games.
However, his poor form returned in a 23-minute fourth set when his serve and the accuracy of his trusty one-handed backhand completely deserted him.
Federer said Tiafoe could go on to have a big career.
“He is a great player and has a bright future ahead of him,” he said of the 19-year-old.
Despite coming away with the win, the shaky performance raises questions about the health of the 36-year-old Swiss, who sat out the Cincinnati Masters earlier this month with back pain.
He acknowledged that he was worried about his back going into the match but said he felt “much, much better”.
“This win will give me a lot of confidence,” he said.
Due to rain, the speedy 2-hour and 35-minute five setter was played under the closed roof of Arthur Ashe Stadium, which amplified the volume of the rowdy crowd.
Federer next meets either Slovenian Blaz Kavcic or Russian Mikhail Youzhny.
Meanwhile, World number one Rafael Nadal began his campaign for a third US Open title with a 7-6 (8/6), 6-2, 6-2 win over Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic.
The 31-year-old Spaniard recovered from 3-5 down in the opening set against the 85th-ranked Lajovic, who has never won a match in New York.
“When I was down in the first set, I just tried to be there as he was playing well and controlling the points,” said French Open champion Nadal, who is chasing a 16th major.
“But the end of the first set was very important. I got the break back and after that, everything changed.”