Fed­erer es­capes

> Swiss sur­vives five-set US Open thriller as rain brings chaos

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

ROGER FED­ERER sur­vived a five-set bat­tle to de­feat Amer­i­can teenager Frances Ti­afoe and reach the US Open sec­ond round yes­ter­day, keep­ing his bid for a record sixth New York ti­tle alive.

The 36-year-old Swiss, chas­ing his third ma­jor of the year and 20th of his ca­reer, pre­vailed 4-6, 6-2, 6-1, 1-6, 6-4 to avoid los­ing in the first round of a Slam for the first time since the 2003 French Open.

The fast and fu­ri­ous duel un­der the roof of Arthur Ashe Sta­dium was one of only nine matches to be com­pleted as tor­ren­tial rain swept 55 matches off yes­ter­day’s sched­ule.

At times, Fed­erer also looked as if he was about to dis­ap­pear with the del­uge, strug­gling with a back in­jury as well as the all-out as­sault of Ti­afoe, the big-hearted 19-year-old son of im­mi­grants from Sierra Leone.

But the vet­eran sur­vived to regis­ter his 79th win in New York and set-up a sec­ond round match-up with ei­ther Rus­sia’s Mikhail Youzhny or Blaz Kav­cic of Slove­nia.

“It was more than a test. We en­joyed it out there, we kept fight­ing, try­ing and it was ex­cit­ing,” said Fed­erer, who fin­ished with 17 aces, 41 win­ners and 56 un­forced er­rors.

“I had a slow start. I was wor­ried about the back in­jury. In the fifth set, it was a coin toss and it went my way tonight so I am very happy.”

“I am feel­ing ex­tremely well. This will give me great con­fi­dence,” added Fed­erer, who missed the 2016 tour­na­ment with in­jury and was play­ing un­der the US$150mil­lion (RM640m) Ashe roof for the first time.

The back prob­lem, which Fed­erer suf­fered in los­ing the Montreal fi­nal to Alexan­der Zverev and ruled him out of the Cincin­nati tour­na­ment, re­stricted his move­ment in the open­ing set.

World No. 70 Ti­afoe claimed it on the back of an un­char­ac­ter­is­tic 18 un­forced er­rors by the Aus­tralian Open and Wim­ble­don cham­pion.

Fed­erer swept through the next two sets be­fore Ti­afoe lev­elled by storm­ing through a 24-minute fourth set.

In the de­cider, Fed­erer broke for 3-1 but wasted a match point as he served at 5-3 and was bro­ken by the Amer­i­can.

But Ti­afoe’s nerve failed him in the 10th game and the match was over when he dumped an off-bal­ance fore­hand into the net.

The win took Fed­erer’s first-round record in New York to 17-0 while world No. 1 Rafael Nadal, a two-time cham­pion in New York, went to 13-0 af­ter the French Open win­ner claimed a 7-6 (8/6), 6-2, 6-2 win over Ser­bia’s Du­san La­jovic.

The 31-year-old Spa­niard was crit­i­cal of the noise inside the Ashe sta­dium, which was am­pli­fied to dis­tract­ing lev­els by the roof, which was closed for vir­tu­ally the whole day.

“I un­der­stand it’s a show, but un­der the roof we need to be a little bit more strict about the noise. All the noise stays inside, and this is dif­fi­cult,” said Nadal.

With play on the out­side courts trimmed to a mere 90 min­utes, it means 87 sin­gles matches will be staged today. – AFP

– AFPPIX

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