“Rusty” Roger Overcomes American Teenager In Five
In a thrilling rollercoaster of a contest, the Australian Open and Wimbledon champion looked at one point as though he might fall at the first hurdle in New York.
Despite being thoroughly outplayed in the fourth and then broken when serving for the match, Federer eventually raised his level enough to see off Tiafoe 4-6, 6-2, 6-1, 1-6, 6-4.
Roger explained: ‘I didn’t have the preparation I was hoping to get. I always knew I was going to come in feeling rusty or not great. I was quite up and down.’
Tiafoe knew that he had run a living legend very close, and felt the result could have gone either way. ‘He won by the skin of his teeth,’ the youngster said. ‘I’m not satisfied but it was a pretty good showing.’
But now that he has shaken off the cobwebs and survived a genuine scare, he hopes to perform with less inhibition.
‘My hope and belief is that it’s only going to get better from here,’ Roger reassured his audience.
Imagine the noise levels if that showdown becomes a reality, especially if a closed roof is required over Arthur Ashe.
Nadal has already complained about the distractions at Flushing Meadows, and the fortnight has barely begun.
It can’t come as any surprise that night sessions in New York are rowdier than anywhere else, but players do still seem to struggle with the environment sometimes.
Federer took it all in his stride, though. ‘When the crowd really got into it, it was cool. It was loud. It was a great atmosphere.’
Best to go with it rather than kick against it, although poor Angelique Kerber, the former world number one, won’t have the chance to do either.
She was surprisingly knocked out in round one by the 19-year-old Naomi Osaka, and it wasn’t even close. The 6-3, 6-1 scoreline suggests that all is not well with Kerber, who hasn’t won a title since her victory in New York twelve months ago.
The German always struggled with the increasing pressure of stardom, although she insisted that having, and then losing top spot hadn’t changed her.
‘I’m still the same player and the same person,’ she claimed.
Her departure leaves Garbine Muguruza and Maria Sharapova as the biggest attractions left in the women’s draw.
Plenty has happened already at the US Open. And we’re only just getting the party started.