New York | Federer and Djokovic survive early scares
A difficult day at the US Open as day three of the season’s last Grand Slam tournament was washed out but thanks to roofs over Arthur Ashe Stadium and the secondary Louis Armstrong, 9 singles matches were completed of the 31 scheduled.
I buckled down and told myself I was going to hang tough and not get broken and that made a big difference Roger Federer
Five of those matches were in the men’s draw and included a walkover into round three for Grigor Dimitrov when Borna Coric, the 12th seed pulled out with an injury, a lower back strain.
Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Kei Nishikori and qualifier Dominic Koepfer all made it into the third round thanks to the retractable roofs which were installed over the last few years.
Federer had to overcome another shaky start to defeat Bosnian Damir Dzumhur 3-6 6-2 6-3 6-4 under the roof at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The Swiss third seed, a 20-time Grand Slam champion, rallied after losing the first set and fired 16 aces to dispatch his opponent, ranked 99.
Five-time US Open winner Federer, who had also dropped the first set against Indian qualifier Sumit Nagal in his opener on Monday, struggled early but again managed to refocus to avoid losing in the second round for the first time at a Grand Slam since Wimbledon 2013.
“Very similar to the last one,” Federer admitted. “I tried to make less errors and be aggressive. It just takes me some time I guess.”
His recovery started when he broke for 2-0 in the second set with a forehand winner and drew level when Dzumhur double-faulted while serving to stay in the set.
He broke again in the second game of the third set and maintained his advantage to pull ahead into the fourth where another powerful forehand put him 2-1 ahead, a lead he was not to relinquish to gain his place in round three.
“I was able to save my serve after a sloppy first set,” Federer said. “I came through. I buckled down and told myself I was going to hang tough and not get broken and that made a big difference.”
Meanwhile Novak Djokovic, winner of four of the past five Grand Slam titles and 16 in all, beat Argentina’s 56th-ranked Juan Ignacio Londero 6-4 7-6(2) 6-1, continues the defence of his title but picked up a shoulder injury in the process.
The world number one required medical attention at various times but it didn’t prevent him from quelling the challenge from Londero after two-hours and 10-minutes.
Djokovic got off to a great start but with encouragement from the crowd, Londero responded and contributed to what proved an excellent opening set.
The defending champion having gone down an early break in the first set, recovered immediately and pulled ahead 4-3 when he called for the trainer to massage a problem area.
With his team showing concern, Djokovic took a pain-killing pill before he resumed play and claim the opening set when the trainer returned to provide more treatment to his shoulder.
Djokovic was broken at the start of the second and in fact went down a double break only to respond by claiming four consecutive games, forcing and claiming the tie-break to move two sets to love up.
From then on, it was all Djokovic but he later admitted the shoulder was a major worry.
“I’m probably gonna freeze my arm for 48 hours and see how it goes,” he said after the match. ‘It was definitely affecting my serve and backhand, but look I don’t want to talk about it too much. I want to congratulate Londero for showing a great fighting spirit and playing some great tennis tonight. It’s a straight-sets win but it was definitely a very difficult match to play. A lot of rallies, especially in the first couple of sets.”
Also through is Kei Nishikori, the seventh seed, the 2014 US Open runner-up and a semi-finalist in 2016 and 2018, who eliminated Bradley Klahn, ranked 108 from the US, 6-2 4-6 6-3 7-5 after two hours and 44-minutes.
Nishikori, who could face Federer in the quarter-finals, broke twice and took the first set in 28 minutes, but Klahn closed the second set with a break to level the match.
Nishikori dominated from there until serving for the match when 5-1 up in the fourth but Klahn saved a match point to take control winning 12 of the next 15 points including another match point to draw level at 5-all.
But Nishikori held again, gained three more match points, and finally converted on the last of them when Klahn blasted a backhand past the baseline.
“I knew it was going to be a tough one because he has a great serve. A little bit of lost focus after 5-1,” Nishikori admitted.
“He started playing better too. Overall, I think played good tennis. Some of the moments I think I didn’t play well ”
The Japanese No.1 believes the match had honed his game, giving him confidence for the forthcoming rounds.
“I think today’s match will help. There were some up-and-downs and I think I needed to play a lot of tennis, especially because I lost two first rounds, Cincy and Canada,” Nishikori added.
“I needed to have little more confidence. So I think it was good match today. But before coming into here, I was a little bit worried, of course. I didn’t have much confidence, but I think now it’s getting bigger and more confidence is coming into my head.”
The final match on Louis Armstrong was one originally scheduled for an outside court but was shifted when the opportunity became available and featured the American giant Reilly Opelka who had eliminated the 11th seeded Fabio Fognini in the opening round.
However, Opelka, who was celebrating his 22nd birthday, couldn’t repeat his opening day’s success and went down to a qualifier from Germany, Dominik Koepfer who defeated him 6-4 6-4 7-6(2)