Fed­erer es­capes in 5-set US Open thriller as down­pour brings chaos


NEW YORK — Roger Fed­erer sur­vived a five-set bat­tle to de­feat Amer­i­can teenager Frances Ti­afoe and reach the US Open sec­ond round on Tues­day, 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 Tues­day’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 matchup with ei­ther Rus­sia’s Mikhail Youzhny or Blaz Kav­cic of Slove­nia.

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.

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 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.

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

Japan’s Naomi Osaka was one of just seven women to get through to the sec­ond round, aided by play­ing un­der the roof.

The world num­ber 46, born in Japan to a Haitian fa­ther and Ja­panese mother, clinched a 6-3, 6-1 win over sixth seed An­gelique Ker­ber, who be­came the first women’s de­fend­ing cham­pion to lose in the first round since Svet­lana Kuznetsova in 2005. —

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