Friday 27 April 2018

Federer forced into another five-set fight to see off Youzhny

Roger Federer. Photo: USA Today Sports
Roger Federer. Photo: USA Today Sports

Simon Briggs

Roger Federer survived a second five-set battle as his dramatic US Open campaign limped on.

Having come into the tournament nursing a back problem, the Wimbledon champion insisted after narrowly scraping past teenager Frances Tiafoe in round one that he was just rusty.

And he began in fine fettle against Mikhail Youzhny but things became a lot more complicated when he failed to serve out the second set before he eventually recovered to win 6-1 6-7 (3/7) 4-6 6-4 6-2.

It is the first time in Federer's long grand slam career that he has been taken the distance in his first two matches.

"It wasn't always like this," said the third seed. "I won in straights or lost in straights. These five-set battles are actually quite a lot of fun. I feel quite warmed up by now."

Federer, who played three five-set matches to win the Australian Open in January, was helped by Youzhny's own physical problems, with the Russian cramping in the final set.

"I haven't played a lot of guys with cramps in the last decade so it was somewhat new," said Federer.

Federer and Youzhny have been battling each other on the senior circuit for 17 years, with Youzhny winning just four sets in 16 previous matches and never coming out on the winning side.

Still Federer made heavy weather of finishing him off but did so after three hours and eight minutes to set up a clash with another veteran in Feliciano Lopez.

Elsewhere, the ill-feeling between two of tennis's leading women is only likely to deepen after Caroline Wozniacki objected to the way that Maria Sharapova has been given plum spots on Arthur Ashe Stadium for her first two matches at the US Open.

Fifth seed Wozniacki was originally scheduled to play a second-round match on Court 5 and then a late shift moved her and her opponent Ekaterina Makarova to Court 17.

After losing the match 6-2, 6-7, 6-1 margin, Wozniacki complained that Sharapova had been granted preferential treatment.

"Putting out a schedule where the No 5 is playing on Court 5, fifth match on after 11pm, that's unacceptable," Wozniacki said.

"And then you look at Centre Court. I understand completely the business side of things, but someone who comes back from a drugs sentence, performance-enhancing drugs, and all of a sudden gets to play every single match on Centre Court, I think that's a questionable thing to do."

  • US Open, Live, Eurosport 1, 3.30

Irish Independent

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