Inconsistent Roger Federer survives another five-set match at U.S. Open

Helene Elliott, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Tennis

NEW YORK -- Roger Federer insisted his back felt fine on Thursday, no matter how often he seemed out of sync during his 6-1, 6-7(3), 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 victory over 101st-ranked Mikhail Youzhny in the second round of the U.S. Open. Nor did he fret about having played back-to-back five-set matches in a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in an illustrious career highlighted by 19 Grand Slam titles.

Federer said his inability to practice all-out when his back was sore led him to be inconsistent and rattled his rhythm. The 36-year-old Switzerland native also brushed off suggestions he's risking fatigue later by dragging out these early matches.

"This match wasn't about the back, which is good. This is more just a grind," the No. 3 seed said, and then added a positive spin to it. "I think because you're on a high, you're thrilled that you got through, so you don't look at the negative. Or I don't. Yes, I might feel more tired than I normally would going into a third round, but that's OK."

His next opponent will be left-hander Feliciano Lopez of Spain, 35. Federer has a 12-0 career edge over Lopez -- and none of those matches went five sets. "I'm pretty confident that I'm only going to get better from here," Federer said.

History made

American Shelby Rogers knew her 7-6 (6), 4-6, 7-6(5) second-round victory over No. 24 Daria Gavrilova of Australia was taking a long time. But not until she left the court did she learn they had played the longest women's match in U.S. Open history, 3 hours 33 minutes. "I was like, 'Oh, that's pretty cool, casually setting records today,' " said Rogers, who will next face No. 4 seed Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, a 6-4, 6-4 winner over Evgeniya Rodina of Russia.

No. 20 CoCo Vandeweghe reached the third round here for the first time in nine tries, with a 7-6(6), 6-2 victory over Ons Jabeur of Tunisia. It also was her first victory at Arthur Ashe Stadium. "To be out there on Ashe and feel the energy, the vibe of it, was a lot of fun," said Vandeweghe, who next will face No. 10 Agnieszka Radwanska. "I had fun out there playing, competing. I think it definitely showed to everyone."

More men's seeds unseated

No. 7 Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria was upset by Andrey Rublev of Russia, 7-5, 7-6(3), 6-3, and No. 15 Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic lost to Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(5), 6-2. Among those who moved on was No. 6 Dominic Thiem of Austria, who eliminated Taylor Fritz of Palos Verdes 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 7-5. Fritz, who has struggled to find consistency, came away encouraged. "I've been playing well the last four, five weeks," he said. "I'm excited for the rest of the season. Excited to get back to work, see where it takes me next year."

No. 18 Gael Monfils of France got past American Donald Young 6-3, 6-7(3), 6-4, 2-6, 7-5.

In the final match, No. 1 seed Rafael Nadal defeated Taro Daniel of Japan 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.

Net gains

No. 1 seed Karolina Pliskova advanced with a 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Californian Nicole Gibbs, who made the field as a qualifier after being slowed by a thigh injury. "To get to play on Ashe, I mean, it's one of the greatest honors in the sport," she said.

Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia, the reigning French Open champion, reached the third round here for the first time with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Sorana Cirstea of Romania. No. 15 Madison Keys of the U.S. advanced with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Tatjana Maria of Germany, and Naomi Osaka of Japan, who upset defending champion Angelique Kerber in the first round, defeated Denisa Allertova of the Czech Republic. But Kurumi Nara of Japan upset No. 8 Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 2004 Open champion, 6-3, 3-6. 6-3.

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