Fed­erer sur­vives scare

AMER­I­CAN TEEN TI­AFOE PUSHES SWISS LEG­END TO FIVE SETS IN US OPEN FIRST-ROUND SUR­PRISE

Shepparton News - - SPORT -

World No. 3 Roger Fed­erer sur­vived a first-round scare from Frances Ti­afoe as the Swiss leg­end ground out a 4-6 6-2 6-1 1-6 6-4 vic­tory against the Amer­i­can teenager be­fore a rau­cous crowd at the US Open yes­ter­day.

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.

Ti­afoe, 19, 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.

De­spite com­ing away with the win, the shaky per­for­mance raises ques­tions about the health of Fed­erer, who sat out the Cincin­nati Mas­ters this month with back pain.

‘‘It was a good one. I think we both en­joyed our­selves out here. I’m very happy with the match. It was ex­cit­ing and it’s kind of why I came to New York, to go through these emo­tions,’’ Fed­erer, 36, said.

‘‘I had a bit of a slow start, but Frances also felt good. I was maybe a bit wor­ried about my back is­sue, but was even­tu­ally able to let go. In the fifth it’s a coin toss and it went my way tonight.’’

Mean­while, Fed­erer’s archri­val, world No. 1 Rafael Nadal de­feated Du­san La­jovic to ease into the sec­ond round, set­ting the Spa­niard on a col­li­sion course for a long over­due Flush­ing Mead­ows show­down with Fed­erer.

Nadal over­came a slow start to win 7-6 (8-6) 6-2 6-2.

‘‘At the end of the first set, it was im­por­tant to get the break back,’’ Nadal, 31, said.

‘‘Af­ter that, ev­ery­thing changed, I’m very happy.

‘‘I need to keep im­prov­ing, the first round is never easy. You want to do well from the be­gin­ning. I want to fo­cus on try­ing to do my work well.’’

While the year’s fi­nal grand slam has just started, ten­nis fans have cir­cled Septem­ber 8 when, if all goes to form, Nadal and Fed­erer would meet to de­cide a place in the fi­nal.

One of the great ri­val­ries in sport, Fed­erer, a five-times US Open win­ner, and Nadal, twice cham­pion, have clashed 37 times over the years, but never have they stood across the net on Flush­ing Mead­ows’ hard­courts.

Pic­ture: EPA/Justin Lane

You gave me a fright: Swiss leg­end Roger Fed­erer (right) shakes hands with Amer­i­can teenager Frances Ti­afoe af­ter sur­viv­ing a five-set thriller in open­ing round of the US Open at Flush­ing Mead­ows yes­ter­day.

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