2015, US Open
US Open, New York
August 31 – September 14, 2015; 128 draw (32 seeds); Surface – Hard
* Compilation of various ATP articles with my blue notes.
Final: (1)Novak Djokovic d. (2)Roger Federer 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 [3:20 h]
Watched by celebrities including David Beckham, Hugh Jackman, Leonardo DiCaprio, Sean Connery and Blake Griffin, the top seeded Djokovic defended sublimely in a match that included 35 winners off his racket and 56 off Federer’s. The dominant Serb saved 19 of 23 break points and successfully landed lob returns against the so-called “Sneak Attack By Roger” or SABR tactic, a term coined by Federer which sees him sneak towards the service box to attack his opponent’s second serve. “I won three out of four. It’s more than I could ask for, definitely,” said Djokovic, adding that he was particularly proud of defeating his Swiss rival in back-to-back Grand Slam finals. “Sitting down here with this trophy and reflecting on what I have achieved, it’s quite incredible.” The top seed said he knew Federer was going to come out playing aggressive tennis. “He was going to try to disrupt my rhythm… [and] put a lot of variety in his game: slice, chip and charge, come to the net, serve and volley, but I was ready for it. I was ready for the battle… we pushed each other to the limit, as we always do.” On a cool Sunday evening after rain delayed the start of play, Djokovic was forced to battle against the Swiss second seed as well as the pro-Federer crowd that filled Arthur Ashe Stadium. Under the watchful eye of Eva Asderaki-Moore, the first female chair umpire to preside over a US Open men’s singles final, the World No. 1 took a tumble in the opening set. Playing on with a scraped knee and elbow, the Serb prevailed to win the opening set, snapping Federer’s winning streak of 28 sets, the third-best of his career. Though Federer lifted his level to snag the 2nd set, momentum swung back to the Serb, who survived a late charge by Federer to serve out the match on his second attempt. The Swiss second seed broke when Djokovic served for the match at 5:2 and had multiple break points at 4:5 (40/15), but was unable to break through Djokovic’s defense. With the victory, the 28-year old from Belgrade leveled his H2H record against Federer at 21-21. He also tied with Bill Tilden at position No. 7 in the all-time Grand Slam singles titles list. Djokovic gave credit to the 34-year-old Federer, stating that “he’s still improving and keeps on going.” “I have tremendous respect for Roger and what his game [presents] to me and any other player,” said the World No. 1, who has bagged three majors in the same season for the second time in his career. He also joined Federer and Rod Laver in an elite club: they are the only players in the Open Era to reach all four major finals in a single season. “It’s been an incredible season. Next to [the] 2011 season, probably the best of all my life,” said the Serb, adding that he’s enjoying it more now because he’s a husband and a father. “[It] makes it even more sweeter.” “I had a wonderful last two weeks, the whole American trip has been fantastic. I’m very pleased with where my game’s at, being back in the finals is where you want to be,” said Federer, adding that he believes his game is moving in the right direction. “Playing against a massive champion like Novak is always a challenge,” said the Swiss, describing their rivalry as a “good one.” “It’s always tough playing against one another and I think we walk away from [each match] knowing more about our game.” Appeasing fans that feared Federer may follow women’s US Open champion Flavia Pennetta’s footsteps by making a retirement announcement, he said with a smile, “I love the sport, I’ve got a lot of passion for it and one last thing… I’ll see you guys next year.” The father-of-four said supportive crowds are one of the reasons he keeps competing, referring to the atmosphere on Ashe as creating “goosebump moments.” The 17-time major winner, who must wait until next year’s Australian Open to have another chance to win a record 18th Grand Slam, said the “SABR” shot is here to stay. “I think it worked very well, and I’m sure I will use it more in the future against him and many others. It was a really interesting last few months or so looking at that tactic… who knows? Maybe I should have played even more of it. I did get many more looks on the second serve as the match went on,” mused Federer, admitting that the loss was disappointing. The victory reiterates the dominance of the “Big Four”, who have won 39 of the past 43 majors, but also gives fans much to look forward to for the next meeting between the top two players in the world. With 42 meetings under their belt, Djokovic and Federer are chasing Djokovic and Nadal’s record 44 meetings for the record of most battles in the Open Era. Stats of the match
2nd semifinal: (2)Roger Federer d. (5)Stan Wawrinka
6-4, 6-3, 6-1… [1:32 h]
“I’m very happy, it’s been a great tournament so far,” Federer said in an on-court interview with ESPN. “I tried very hard in the last six years to get to another final, I came close a few times and tonight it worked against Stan, who also played a good tournament.” The second seed described his current form as “definitely very good, maybe my best.” “I’m serving very well, playing positive tennis. I am going for my shots and I’d love [everything] to work just one more time this year.” The semi-final marked the Swiss pair’s 20th career meeting, sixth at a Grand Slam and first at the US Open. Five-time champion Federer extended his Head2Head lead over Wawrinka to 17-3 and his record at majors against the younger Swiss is now 5-1. Federer saved a break point in the 2nd game and proceeded to break Wawrinka in the following game after the 30-year-old Swiss sent a backhand long. The second-seeded Federer saved three more break points at 3:2 (0/40), sealing the game with an ace. He converted his second set point as a Wawrinka forehand sailed long. In the 2nd set, Wawrinka found his first serve and saved four break points in the 5th game, before being broken to ‘love’ in the 7th. He gave up the set after sending a forehand long. Federer broke twice in the 3rd set before converting his second match point with his 10th ace of the night. Federer’s 52 games lost this year at Flushing Meadows ties the fewest he’s dropped en route to a Grand Slam final. Before the 2006 Wimbledon final he had also lost 52 games. The Swiss No. 1 is also on a 28-set winning streak, which began in Cincinnati, the third-longest of his career. The 34-year-old Federer, who is the oldest Grand Slam semi-finalist since Jonas Bjorkman reached the final four at Wimbledon in 2006 (Bjorkman lost to Federer then), is also the oldest Open Era Grand Slam finalist since Andre Agassi, then 35, reached the final at Flushing Meadows in 2005. He’ll next meet top seed Djokovic, over whom he has a 21-20 H2H record. Federer said both he and Djokovic don’t need to adjust their games before they battle. “It’s just a straight shootout, and I think that’s the cool thing about our rivalry. It’s very athletic, we both can handle whatever we present to one another and I think our matches [are] very even,” said the 17-time major winner, adding that if the crowd is in his favor, it could give him both energy and momentum. “That could swing the match a little bit, but other than that, obviously Novak is a great player… you’ve got to play well to beat him, there is no question about that.” Stats of the match
1st semifinal: (1)Novak Djokovic d. (9)Marin Cilic
6-0, 6-1, 6-2… [1:25 h]
“Obviously it felt great to be able to perform as well as I did today at this stage of a tournament,” said Djokovic. “Knowing that Marin carried that (ankle) injury for last couple of matches. I didn’t allow that fact to distract me too much. I just wanted to concentrate on what I needed to do on the court and come out with the right intensity, make him move, get as many returns back in play. All in all, it was from my side a very solid match and I take that as a confidence booster for the final.” Djokovic halted Cilic’s 12-match win streak at the US Open and extended his win streak in their Head2Head rivalry to 14-0. The Serb has reached the final of all four Grand Slams in a single season for the first time in his career and has advanced to 17 major finals in total since the 2010 US Open. “I will look back very positively on the tournament,” said Cilic. “An extremely great tournament. Obviously very unlucky that I twisted the ankle. I went to the match obviously to play. I cannot pull myself out of it with injury. That’s the reality. Novak was extremely focused today. He played great. But I have to also take myself that I was fighting pretty well during the full tournament. Considering the first-time experience having to defend a Grand Slam title, I feel that I did well. So I’m very, very positive coming out of the tournament.” Djokovic’s win made him just the third player in the Open Era to reach the final at all four Grand Slams in a single season, joining Federer (2006-07, ’09) and Rod Laver (1969). Djokovic, who reached the final in New York for the fifth time in six years, earned an immediate break in the 2nd game after Cilic pulled the trigger on a backhand down the line, missing long. The top seed won 12 of the first 16 points in grabbing a double break lead and would seal the opener with a third break on his third set point. The Serb would need just 53 minutes in taking a two-set lead, hammering eight winners while claiming 16 of 19 service points in the 2nd set. Djokovic appeared to have put a bow on the match after capturing an immediate break in the 3rd, but Cilic would not go down quietly. The Croat opened the court with a rifled cross-court backhand followed by a smooth drop shot winner to break back for 2-all. The break would prove to be a minor hiccup for the World No. 1, who broke once again for 3:2 and an eighth time two games later. Stats of the match. A Grand Slam semi-finalist won three games on just four other occasions in the Open Era and not since 1986 Roland Garros (Ivan Lendl d. Johan Kriek 6-2 6-1 6-0). The most-lopsided Grand Slam semi-final in the Open Era was at Roland Garros in 1978 when Bjorn Borg defeated Corrado Barazzutti 6-0 6-1 6-0.
4th quarterfinal: (2)Roger Federer d. (12)Richard Gasquet
6-3, 6-3, 6-1… [1:27 h]
The thrill of winning when conjuring his highest level on game day simply never gets old for Federer. Some commentators labelled the 17-time Grand Slam champion’s 87-minute dismissal of Gasquet as among the best they had seen from the Swiss player in their US Open quarter-final on Wednesday night. At 34, even Federer admitted to being somewhat surprised he was able to bring it at his age. “A little bit to the extent where it’s nice to play this way,” Federer said. “And maybe at my age to run through five opponents the way I have done here at the US Open, I don’t consider that normal, to be quite honest, even though I expect it in some ways for myself to come out and play well. I’ve played so well over the last one-and-a-half years. I don’t feel like I’m as old as I am. I still feel young. So it’s nice to get rewarded with the hard work and that actually I’m able to play sort of fun tennis, I maybe call it for myself. Aggressive, pick it up, you know, like half volley it, move in, serve and volley, cut the points short, and if I want to, extend the rallies. But it feels like on my terms. Then if you win this way, it’s a great feeling.” Having saved match points to beat Federer as an 18 year old, that triumph was but a distant memory for the 29-year-old Frenchman on Wednesday night after the lopsided defeat. Since his breakthrough defeat of Federer in Monte Carlo ’05, he has beaten him just once since; Federer now improving to 15-2 in their Head2Head series. Gasquet’s run in New York was the first time in his career he had reached the quarter-finals in back-to-back Slams, having reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon in July.
3rd quarterfinal: (5)Stan Wawrinka d. (15)Kevin Anderson
6-4, 6-4, 6-0… [1:47 h]
Wawrinka overcame Anderson’s serving power and scored an easy win on Wednesday (the only quarterfinal played on Louis Armstrong Stadium). Wawrinka improved to 5-6 in Grand Slam quarter-finals and reached the semi-finals of a tour-level event for the first time since going all the way at Roland Garros this spring. “I know I only have two matches left but it’s a big challenge ahead of me,” said Wawrinka, who will contest his second US Open semi-final (2013). “I’m far away from thinking about the trophy. I think you should only think about the trophy when you are in the final. Not before.” Recent history did not favour Wawrinka coming into the quarter-finals against Anderson. The No. 15 seed had bested the two-time Grand Slam champion in their past four Head2Head match-ups. He was also in good form, having defeated Murray en route to his first Grand Slam quarter-finals. “It was the best match of the tournament for me,” said Wawrinka. “I was really happy with the way I played. I was trying to be really aggressive on the return.” The 6’8” South African averaged 125mph on his first serve in the first two sets, but Wawrinka strung together enough quality returns, including an audacious half-volley block a la Federer, to secure a commanding lead after 82 minutes. The Swiss went two-for-five on break opportunities while saving the lone break point faced. In the 25-minute-long 3rd set, Wawrinka raised his level of play (eight winners, one unforced error) while Anderson faltered (two winners, twelve unforced errors). “It obviously wasn’t meant to be today,” said Anderson. “Stan didn’t make it easy. He was taking time away from me. He was swinging out, and I was just a step slow. Wasn’t going to bode well. I needed to be on top of my game today. [Stan] stuck to his guns and did what he needed to do.” Stats of the match
2nd quarterfinal: (1)Novak Djokovic d. (18)Feliciano Lopez
6-1, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(2)… [2:39 h]
The Serbian progressed to a US Open semi-final showdown with defending champion Cilic after a victory over the Spaniard on Tuesday night. The World No. 1 improved his Head2Head with the 33-year-old lefty to 6-0. Djokovic came into his 26th straight Grand Slam quarter-final with the added confidence of having never fallen in his past eight straight US Open quarter-finals. “I thought I played a pretty good first set, and then after that I was just trying to hang in there and wait for the opportunities,” Djokovic said. “I played good at the beginning of the third. Fourth was anybody’s game, really. Didn’t have many chances on his service games. Played a very good tie-break; that’s a positive.” After racing to 5:0* in the opening set, it was the perfect start to upholding that clean record. Lopez found himself serving to avoid a first-set bagel before finally getting on the board. He relinquished the set soon with a shanked forehand return of serve into the stands. A three-time Wimbledon quarter-finalist (2005, 08 & 11), this was the furthest Lopez had ventured at the US Open in his 14th appearance and against the flow of play, the No. 18 seed broke early in the 2nd set, with his forward-moving and attacking game plan paying dividends. Lopez levelled the match on his second set point opportunity with a swinging serve out wide for 6-3. The Spaniard, though, immediately surrendered any momentum he had when he double faulted to hand Djokovic the break in the opening game of the 3rd set. Djokovic would go on to bring up three set points at 5:3 with an ace and took it on his first with a forehand winner. In the 4th-set tie-break, Djokovic soon found himself with five match points. He claimed it on his second when Lopez’s forehand found the net. “I started to feel the end of the fourth like my serve, finding the range on my serve, which wasn’t working at all in the first part of the match,” Djokovic said. “Obviously when you start serving better, more accurate, higher percentage of first serves in, you feel more confident. So that allowed me to kind of relax on the returns. Return points I managed to anticipate well… Returned pretty good and allowed myself to make two mini-breaks, which is a big advantage in the tie-break.” Djokovic’s nine aces were five less than the Spaniard’s, however he did not hit a double fault all match. Both finished with 36 winners, but it was a more measured Djokovic who would prevail, having committed 17 unforced error’s to Lopez’s 48.
1st quarterfinal: (9)Marin Cilic d. (19)Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 6-7(3), 6-4… [3:59 h]
Cilic, who defeated Nishikori in the US Open final twelve months ago, is a step closer to a repeat performance thanks to a win over in the quarter-finals on Tuesday. The Croat squandered a two-set lead, finally needing almost four hours, as well as five match points, to advance. “I came to the tournament knowing that I can play well here,” said Cilic. “I just needed a few matches to get into the rhythm, and that’s what happened. It was a great, great atmosphere. I really enjoyed the match.” Before the tournament, Cilic had won his past three matches in straight sets against Tsonga, whose only tour-level victory in their Head2Head rivalry came at ‘Masters 1000’ Cincinnati four years ago. However, the Frenchman was playing his best tennis in New York, having held all 56 service games en route to the quarter-finals. The World No. 18’s serving streak was halted in the 1st set, as Cilic secured a late break, then served out the set. An hour and a half into the match, Tsonga was already down two sets to love with some problems in his left knee. The 30-year-old had only dug himself out of such a deficit on two previous occasions. Under pressure, Tsonga rediscovered his rhythm on serve and took the 3rd set without facing a break point. He saved three match points on his serve late in the 4th set (in two different games) before forcing a decider. Cilic had already come through a marathon match earlier in the tournament against Kukushkin, a five-setter, which was settled in 4 hours and 11 minutes. The defending champion took advantage of that experience, obtained the lone break of serve in the 5th game of the 5th set, and booked his spot in the semis on his fifth match point (in the last game he served two consecutive aces – 29 in total – to get fourth match point, then was forced to save a break point with a high-backhand volley). “To lose the fourth set after three-and-a-half hours, it was very, very difficult,” said Cilic “Extremely tough conditions today. I was asking myself, am I going to change anything for the fifth set if it comes, or then I’m going to keep going with the same game plan?” added Cilic. “Then I decided to stay mentally tough. I was thinking about the third and fourth sets. I didn’t play poorly. Jo came up with amazing shots in the critical points. Especially on all three match points that I had, he played great points.” Cilic has improved his great five-set record to 23-9. It’s his eighth win despite losing an MP-up set (the first one occurred in New York too, seven years ago as he beat Julien Benneteau 4-6 7-5 6-3 6-7 6-2 in the first round).
Ninth seed Marin Cilic continued his bid to successfully defend his US Open crown, firing 23 aces en route to a 6-3 2-6 7-6(2) 6-1 victory over Jeremy Chardy. The Croat was broken twice in a row to drop the 2nd set, but would not concede another break of serve during the 2-hour and 26-minute affair. He hammered 52 total winners. Cilic improved to 2-1 in his H2H series against Chardy and will look to build on a 4-1 record against quarter-final opponent Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The reigning champion in New York has won six consecutive sets against Tsonga, capturing three straight encounters in Miami 2013, Rotterdam 2014 and Monte Carlo 2015. Tsonga cruised past countryman Benoit Paire 6-4 6-3 6-4 in 1 hour and 42 minutes on Louis Armstrong Stadium. He benefitted from 35 unforced errors, to his 18. The No. 19 seed did not face a break point. “Now I will play against Marin,” said Tsonga. “He’s a good player. He beat me a few times in the past in big matches. For me, it’s going to be important to prepare for this match as well as possible and try to find a way to go through.” Tsonga reached multiple Grand Slam quarter-finals for the fifth time in six years. He will contest his 12th major quarter-final overall, and second in New York (2011), while Cilic reached his seventh overall and fourth at the US Open. Watching Fabio Fognini and Rafael Nadal trading blows, Feliciano Lopez recalls thinking he would need to channel Superman’s powers to stand a chance at beating the winner. On Sunday, he found the super hero’s kryptonite from within, reaching his first US Open quarter-final for the first time in 14 appearance with a 6-3 7-6(5) 6-1 victory over Fognini on Louis Armstrong Stadium. The No. 18 seed was playing in the fourth round at Flushing Meadows for the first time in five years while Fognini was coming off an upset of two-time champion Nadal. On Sunday, though, the Italian was unable to register back-to-back wins against the Spanish lefties, with Lopez winning 82 per cent of first serve points and taking advantage of Fognini’s 40 unforced errors. “The way they were playing, it was just amazing,” Lopez said of the Fognini-Nadal match. “I was watching the match in my room. I couldn’t believe how good they were playing, especially Fabio, how many winners he was able to hit in that fifth set (70 winners for the match). Yeah, I was thinking about him playing this way against me. I was scared. But obviously tennis is always different. Every match is completely different. My game is another game. I think I played a great match here today. I was very aggressive. My serve was working. Every time I come in, I find a way to win the point. I was very quick also in the net. So, yeah, I think I have to be very happy, because (beating) Fabio in straight sets after the way he was playing is such a great result.” Novak Djokovic was made to work hard by an inspired Roberto Bautista Agut in the fourth round of the US Open on Sunday. The top seed prevailed 6-3 4-6 6-4 6-3 after 3 hours and 3 minutes of gruelling baseline tennis. Djokovic finished with 42 winners and 37 unforced errors, while Bautista Agut struck 34 winners and committed 28 errors. The Spaniard, No. 23, came into the match with a 0-9 record against the Big 4 guys (0-21 in sets). The 1st set, punctuated by long rallies, went to the favourite, who converted on his fifth break point. Sensing that his usual brand of consistent play would not be enough to challenge his opponent, Bautista Agut began to strike his forehand with increased aggression. The change in tactics proved effective, as the Spaniard pushed Djokovic far behind the baseline and came back from a *2:4 (15/40) deficit to claim the 2nd set. “I started allowing him to control the rallies,” said Djokovic. “I didn’t do what I did for set and a half, which was after few balls stepping in and taking control. If you give him an opportunity, if you drop your level, he’s a kind of a player, similar to David Ferrer, who is going to get on top of you.” Djokovic found another gear in the 3rd set but Bautista Agut fought hard until the last point, breaking the 2011 US Open champion when he served for the match at 5:2 in the 4th set before succumbing one game later. “Credit to him for fighting, for making me work,” said Djokovic. “It was a very physical match. I played over three hours, and I’m just glad that I managed to stay tough.” Stan Wawrinka is into the quarter-finals of the US Open after denying home hope Donald Young 6-4 1-6 6-3 6-4 on Monday afternoon in front of a packed Arthur Ashe Stadium. The World No. 5 advanced to his sixth consecutive Grand Slam quarter-final and third straight at the US Open. He has reached the last eight at all four majors this year, having never previously accomplished the feat. “I’m happy,” said Wawrinka. “I think I started the third set really well again. I was physically there trying to play again more aggressive the way I start the match also. I think we play just a little bit more than two hours, so it was quite a quick match. Some good moments on the court. I was feeling better. Mentally I was there. It was a good win for me.” Wawrinka fired 52 winners including 11 aces, converting on all four break chances during the 2-hour and 9-minute affair. Young dominated in rallies of nine shots or more (11-3), but was unable to maintain the momentum after leveling the match at one set apiece. Wawrinka surged to a 5:0 advantage in the 3rd, and the two-time Grand Slam champion would not look back. Kevin Anderson is through to his first Grand Slam quarter-final after derailing 2012 champion Andy Murray 7-6(5) 6-3 6-7(2) 7-6(0) under lights on Louis Armstrong Stadium. The big-serving South African notched his first upset of a Top-10 player at a major in his 16th attempt with the 4-hour, 18-minute victory (the longest match at this year’s US Open) over the World No. 3. “I felt I played one of the best matches of my career,” said Anderson. “To do it at this stage, at this round, to get through to the quarters the first time in a Grand Slam definitely means a lot to me.” Seven times before Anderson had fallen in the fourth round in Slam play. This was just his second win over the Scot in seven encounters and his aggressive tactics showed. He clocked 25 aces and won 41 of 58 points at net. He out-hit Murray in t he winners department, 81-49, but committed 57 unforced errors to the typically consistent Scot’s 20. “It goes way back to my preparations,” said Anderson. “I’ve got a great team behind me, from my coach to my fitness trainers, my physical trainers. I’ve been working with a sports psychologist, as well. I think that’s been a big benefit for me, just being more comfortable in these big positions. Today it feels good to take a little step and actually beat one of the best guys in the world in the fourth round of a Slam.” Murray was bidding to reach his 19th consecutive Grand Slam quarter-final (he missed the 2013 French Open due to injury). He had reached the quarter-finals or better the past five years and was coming off a solid build-up, having won the Masters 1000 title in Montreal and reaching the semi-finals in the Cincinnati Masters 1000. But after losing his opening two matches of the US Open Series and falling in the third round in Cincinnati over the US summer swing, Anderson had also worked his way into form, winning the title in Winston-Salem. With his win the Johannesburg native becomes the first South African to reach the US Open quarter-finals since Wayne Ferreira in 1992. In the crucial opening set, Anderson played a wonderful half-volley at 5-all in the tie-break, and converted his first set point with a powerful forehand down the line. He led *5:1 (40/30) in the 2nd set when nerves crept to his behaviour, and was forced to save at the net a break point at 5:3, to ultimately build a 2-0 lead in sets after his fifth set point. Murray came back from 0:1* (15/40) in the 3rd set & took the set with an ace out wide on his first opportunity, and fend off two break points at 1:2 in the 4th. Heading into a third tie-break for the match, it was Anderson who bolted out of the blocks, cracking a forehand service return winner cross-court to surge to *3:0. He made it 5:0 with an ace down the T (25 aces in total to Murray’s 19) and when the Scot missed wide after a long rally, Anderson had six match points. He took the match on his first chance, ripping a forehand at Murray’s feet. “I was definitely feeling it in terms of fatigue,” said Anderson. “It was a very physical match. I was trying to balance conserving energy but at the same time showing some emotion. I felt at least I found a good balance there. Maybe I wasn’t ecstatic, all sorts of jumping up and down, but inside I definitely found a really good balance.” Roger Federer defeated John Isner 7-6(0) 7-6(6) 7-5 on Monday night in a match with one break of serve after 37 games played. Bearing down against the big-serving American, Federer struck 55 winners and only made 16 unforced errors while saving all five break points faced (in two different games of the 2nd set). “John is one of the best servers in the game,” said Federer during his post-match on-court interview with ESPN. “Especially the pace on his second serve, it’s unreal. You just have to hang around and not drop your own serve. I guess that was the key to the match.” In his 1st set, Federer came up empty on three break opportunities, but raised his game at a critical moment to sweep Isner 7/0 in the tie-break. Prior to the match, Isner had never been shut out in 428 tour-level tie-breaks contested (272-156). “I think it started with a good pickup by me,” reflected Federer. “He hit and charged the net so I had to hit a tough pass. Then I served really well, had a few looks on his second serves and had perfect timing on them. You have to get a bit lucky to win a tie-break 7/0 against John, but as long as you win the tie-break, the score doesn’t really matter.” The Swiss used his experience to escape a 0/40 deficit on serve in the 2nd set (struck three service winners in a row) to force another tie-break, which he won after going 3:5*. “At 0/40 I thought the set could be getting away in a hurry, but I just tried to make him earn it,” Federer said. “I was hoping to get some first serves in. I did that and the next thing you know, you’re back in the game. It was clearly a crucial game, the way we were serving.” (in the end Isner was better in aces: 17-15) The five-time champion, aged 34, joins fellow 30-and-over players Lopez, Tsonga and Wawrinka in the quarter-finals. There have not been four quarter-finalists who are 30 years or older at the US Open since 1982 (Jimmy Connors, Tom Gullikson, Guillermo Vilas and Kim Warwick). Federer will take on Richard Gasquet in the quarter-finals. The World No. 2 holds a 14-2 lead in Head2Head series, and is 2-0 against the Frenchman at Grand Slam level (Wimbledon 2006 and 2007). Gasquet booked his place in the final eight by overcoming a slow start against Tomas Berdych, ultimately winning 2-6 6-3 6-4 6-1 to improve their H2H to 7-6. The World No. 12 was broken twice by the Czech in the 1st set, but saved the next four break points to win in 2 hours and 27 minutes. As there was 4-all in the pivotal 4th set, Gasquet won eight consecutive points. “I started badly,” admitted Gasquet, who has yet to win a set against Federer in major tournaments. “I was not feeling confident on the court. He was playing great. I think the second set was really important for my confidence. I started to return better, serve much better than the start of the match. It was a great match for me and a big victory. Of course, I’m a little bit tired now, but in two days I will be fresh, no problem.”
Novak Djokovic was broken for the first time at the US Open this year, but improved his H2H record against Andreas Seppi to 11-0 with a 6-3 7-5 7-5 win over the Italian. His 203rd Grand Slam win puts him sixth on the all-time list (tied with Pete Sampras), and second among active players behind Federer. “I can’t underestimate the quality of my opponent today,” said Djokovic. “He’s not afraid to go out on a big stadium and play his best against big players. He won against Federer earlier this year in Australia. He’s a good player and it’s a good win.” Djokovic had not lost to an Italian opponent since he was defeated by Filippo Volandri in Umag 2004 (31-0 since), but was challenged by an aggressive Seppi, who hit 38 winners and converted on 21 of 25 net approaches. “I didn’t want to get into a fourth set,” said Djokovic. “I didn’t close out the match at 5:4. He played a very good game. I got a little bit tight. I came up with some big serves, but generally was a really, really tough three sets. Just glad to get through this one.” Flamboyant Italian Fabio Fognini produced a stunning comeback win over Rafael Nadal laced with 70 winners to reach the fourth round in the early hours of Saturday morning. In a pulsating match that finished around 1.30 a.m, Fognini’s dazzling shot-making officially ended Nadal’s streak of winning at least one Grand Slam title a year for 10 straight years after the 3 hr., 46 min., battle. Nadal had been a perfect 151-0 at Grand Slam level after winning the first two sets. Eighth-seeded Nadal looked to be cruising, leading two sets to love, and 3:1* in the 3rd set, before the Italian surged back to claim his third victory over the Spaniard this year 3-6 4-6 6-4 6-3 6-4 in one of the best matches of the season. It was a remarkable turnaround from Fognini. He had never beaten a Top 10 player on hard courts in 17 previous attempts. After dropping the first two sets, Fognini turned in one of the most breathtaking shot-making displays of the year. He clubbed forehand and backhand winners from all parts of the court with exquisite timing that belied the amount of effort behind them. He also attacked the net regularly, winning 39 of 52 approaches. In a rollercoaster final set, the players held their opening serves but then exchanged seven consecutive breaks (!) before Fognini served out the match at 5:4. Earlier, in a pulsating 8th game of the set, Nadal rallied from 40/0 on Fognini’s serve and ultimately saved four game points before leveling the set at 4-all. But Fognini responded with four clean winners to break the Spaniard to ‘love’. The Italian improved to a 10-9 career mark in fifth sets (fifth time from 0-2); Nadal slipped to 17-6. Fognini said that his high-risk, high-reward strategy was needed to beat Nadal. “Well, with Rafa you have to try that, because otherwise if you run – he start running at the beginning and you finish at the end of the week. It’s not easy. It is a really special win. If you want to play against him and if you want to do something different, you have to take risks. That’s the only thing.” Nadal paid tribute to Fognini’s shot-making. “He played great. It was not a match that I lost, even if I had opportunities. It’s a match that he won. So accept. I’m not happy that he played better than me, but that’s what happened. I fought until the last point all the time, with a good attitude. But it was not enough to win today. I lost a couple of matches like that this year… I enjoyed the crowd. Was amazing support out there. Just a very special feeling to be out there with that support.” Defending champion Marin Cilic smashed his racquet, but survived a five-set tussle with Mikhail Kukushkin to reach the US Open fourth round, edging the Kazakhstani 6-7(5) 7-6(1) 6-3 6-7(3) 6-1 in 4 hours and 11 minutes on Louis Armstrong Stadium (the first beyond 4-hour match this year in New York). Cilic narrowly avoided going down two sets to love as he fought back from a break down in the 2nd set to level the match – at 5:6 he saved a double set point with two service winners. Having clinched the 3rd set and earned a break advantage in the 4th, Cilic looked poised to complete the comeback. But Kukushkin pegged the Croat back and was the stronger in the subsequent tie-break to force a deciding 5th set. Kukushkin could not maintain his high level in the decider, though, and Cilic took advantage with two service breaks to clinch victory. “Playing on a big court with a full house, that’s going to give you some extra motivation in the situations like today when I was set and 5:2 down,” said Cilic. “I was in the thought process that I am going to stay on the court as long as necessary. I was feeling that I wasn’t playing so well and then the ball wasn’t coming off my racquet really well. So I always focused on getting my legs in the best position and trying to make the match as physical as possible. Over time things got better, so that was pleasing.” The right-hander, who is coached by Goran Ivanisevic, improved to a 21-13 mark on the season, which has been blighted by a shoulder injury. The 27-year-old Kukushkin came into Flushing Meadows having failed to win back-to-back tour-level matches since finishing runner-up in Sydney in January. Benoit Paire has kept up his strong form after stunning fourth seed Nishikori in the first round on Monday and advanced to the fourth round with a 7-6(3) 6-1 6-1 victory over Spanish No. 26 seed Tommy Robredo. In the last game of the match Paire saved eight break points to hold after 12 deuces (recently he won a service game also against Djokovic in similar fashion, in Cincinnati). Donald Young has advanced to the fourth round of the US Open for the second time, recovering from a slow start to upset 22nd seed Viktor Troicki 4-6 0-6 7-6(3) 6-2 6-4. Troicki’s seventh defeat despite a 2-0 lead (more – 8 – lost only Brian Gottfried, in years 1974-82). Young, who reached the final 16 of his home slam in 2011, needed 3 hours and 33 minutes to clinch the win. The 26-year-old Young had two match points at 5:3, but sealed the victory in the following game with a forehand winner down the line. It’s only the second time in his career that Young has come back from a two-sets-to-love deficit. He first achieved the feat against 11th seed Simon on Tuesday. “Showing you can fight and come back is a great feeling at the end of the day,” said Young. “It was 90 per cent you guys, 10 per cent me. I am so happy to be able to do it in front of you guys, thanks for the support,” he told the crowd on Grandstand, which chanted “U-S-A” throughout the match. It definitely did [feel a bit like Davis Cup]. I was on the other end of a match like this earlier this year in Scotland against Andy Murray, so to have you guys 100 per cent for me felt amazing. I really appreciate that,” he said, later adding that he may not have won the match if it had been played anywhere else. The American credited part of his success to improvements in his strength and conditioning. The Atlanta resident next meets fifth seed Stan Wawrinka, who dispatched Belgium’s Ruben Bemelmans 6-3 7-6(5) 6-4 in 1 hour and 57 minutes. Wawrinka saved two break points at 5:4, 15/40 before clinching the win with a forehand winner. Young and Wawrinka split their two previous meetings, with the American’s victory coming in the second round of the 2011 US Open. “It’s going to be an exciting match for sure; he’s playing at home… he’s a great fighter,” said the Swiss, later adding that he watched part of Young’s match against Troicki. “He’s a tough player, he improved a lot especially [in] his attitude on the court, he’s fighting way more,” Wawrinka added. “I’m looking forward to going out there and battling again,” said Young. “I’m sure it’s going to be a battle, every match is going to be one. I’m happy to be able to push forward. This is what you put the hours in the gym for.” Roger Federer needed just 1 hour and 33 minutes to dispatch Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3 6-4 6-4 on Saturday. The second seed advanced to the Round of 16 in New York for the 15th consecutive year, extending his H2H series to a perfect 10-0 against the German. Federer fired 27 winners including five aces. He conceded his first break of serve since Wimbledon, when Kohlschreiber broke to love in the 4th game of the 2nd set. Federer had held in 78 consecutive service games in Cincinnati and the US Open combined. He improved to 19-0 against Germans, and is just six match wins from becoming the first player to claim 300 at the Grand Slam level (294-48). “Today I got off with a good start and held my serve throughout the first set,” said Federer. “Then, I lost a little bit on my serve. There was hardly any rallies anymore. I couldn’t play as many rallies as I was hoping to, especially on the return games, because I thought he was doing a good job doing the 1-2 punch. Then that’s not much rhythm, to be quite honest.” Up next for Cilic will be Jeremy Chardy, who defeated David Ferrer 7-6(6), 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 to move into the fourth round of the US Open for the first time. In the crucial 1st set tie-break, Ferrer led 3:0 on serve, having beaten Chardy in their previous six meetings (not leads 7-2 in H2H overall). Cilic is 1-1 against Chardy and defeated the Frenchman in the round of 16 at Wimbledon last year. Tomas Berdych was on the brink of falling behind two sets to none against Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, but the Czech saved a set point & survived the Spaniard’s test, prevailing 6-7(2) 7-6(7) 6-3 6-3. Berdych needed 3 hours and 22 minutes to book his spot in the Round of 16 for a fourth consecutive year, firing 53 total winners to defeat World No. 31 Garcia-Lopez. The Czech draws level H2H against the Spaniard at 3-3, having dropped their most recent meeting at Monte Carlo. “I felt good all the way through,” said Berdych. “The first set wasn’t the best. I had a set point and had my chances, but wasn’t able to make it. He played quite well and unfortunately didn’t happen to win the first set. Then, it was a close second set and I was on top of him and playing well. It was a matter of time to take my chances and that’s what I did.” Berdych will renew his 10-year-old rivalry against Richard Gasquet with a quarter-final berth at stake. The series is tied at 6-6, with the Czech winning in straight sets this year in Doha and Madrid. The World No. 12 Frenchman downed Bernard Tomic 6-4 6-3 6-1 in just under an hour and a half, dominating in points under four shots (60-43). He hit 43 winners to Tomic’s 23. Andy Murray moved into the fourth round of the US Open with a 6-3 6-2 7-5 victory against Thomaz Bellucci on Saturday night. The Brit won 100 points to his opponent’s 80 during the 2 hour, 13 minute match. He is now 12-0 against southpaws in 2015, with Bellucci becoming the latest victim. “I don’t mind playing against left-handers,” said Murray. He next meets Kevin Anderson, who ousted Dominic Thiem 6-3 7-6(3) 7-6(3) saving a set point with a forehand winner in the 2nd set. Anderson has won 12 sets this year being a point from losing them – more than anyone on the tour. John Isner has advanced to the last 16 not being even force to play at 5-all in his eight sets of three matches!
Novak Djokovic’s dominance on serve has continued at this year’s US Open with the World No. 1 cruising past Andreas Haider-Maurer 6-4 6-1 6-2. The 2011 champion has not faced a break point in either of his opening two matches and against World No. 53 Haider-Maurer, he won 83 per cent of his first-serve points and 77 per cent of second-serve points in the 1-hour, 31-minute affair on Arthur Ashe Stadium. He finished with 27 winners to just seven from his opponent. The curtain came down on Mardy Fish’s professional tennis career on Wednesday as he was beaten by 18th seed Feliciano Lopez. The American almost pulled off the upset victory as he served for the match in the 4th set, but fatigue and cramp hindered his challenge in the subsequent fifth set and Lopez took advantage to prevail 2-6 6-3 1-6 7-5 6-3 in 3 hours and 11 minutes on Louis Armstrong Stadium. “No, I wasn’t quitting,” said Fish. “I was just cramping. I mean, both sides of both legs, if I moved anywhere close to three or four steps, two or three steps, it would go. You would have had to carry me off the court. I was definitely not stopping at that point. We have played a lot of matches. I have had some success against him. I was playing fine. Certainly put myself in an opportunity to win the match… It will probably sink in a little bit later when I start feeling a little bit better.” Eighth seed Rafael Nadal needed 2 hours and 41 minutes to turn aside Diego Schwartzman 7-6(5) 6-3 7-5 on Wednesday at the US Open. It was his 750th tour-level match win. The diminutive 5’7″ Schwartzman put up a mighty fight in racing to an early break lead in the third set, before Nadal rebounded in time to close out the match in straight sets. “I think I served well today,” said Nadal. “My serve was working well. I think I had the match under control at the beginning playing well.” In one of Day 3’s biggest upsets, Mikhail Kukushkin toppled 17th seed Grigor Dimitrov 6-3 7-6(2) 2-6 4-6 6-4 in 3 hours and 38 minutes. The 27-year-old Kazakh, who is coached by his wife, saved six of 12 break points, though he didn’t face one in the decisive set. Kukushkin has had a tough 2015, failing to win through to the third round of an ATP World Tour tournament since January. Benoit Paire, who scored the biggest win of his career by knocking out Nishikori in the first round, continued his victorious ways. The Frenchman saw off Turkey’s Marsel Ilhan 6-3 3-6 6-4 6-3 in just over two hours. By reaching the third round in New York, the 26-year-old Paire equalled his previous best result at a Grand Slam and has now reached the round of 32 at all four majors. Paire will meet 26th seed Tommy Robredo, who defeated big-serving Australian Sam Groth in straight sets saving a set point in the mid-set. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga overcame Marcel Granollers 6-3 6-4 6-3 in 2 hours and 3 minutes. The 30-year-old Frenchman never faced a break point. “Last time I played against him I lost, so I’m happy,” said Tsonga. With the victory, Tsonga set up a third-round showdown against Ukraine’s Sergiy Stakhovsky. Stakhovsky earlier defeated countryman Ilya Marchenko 6-4 7-6(2) 4-6 6-4. David Ferrer is through to the third round of the US Open for the 10th time in his past 11 appearances after beating Filip Krajinovic 7-5 7-5 7-6(4) on Wednesday at Flushing Meadows. The 33-year-old Ferrer has compiled a 38-9 match record this season. Next up for Ferrer will be France’s Jeremy Chardy, who defeated Martin Klizan 7-5 6-4 7-6(1) in just over two hours to reach the third round in New York for the second time in seven visits. Chardy came into Flushing Meadows in good form, reaching the semi-finals of the Rogers Cup in Montreal. Belgian 14th seed David Goffin saved 23 of 29 break points as he survived in five sets to beat Ricardas Berankis 5-7 6-4 3-6 6-2 6-1. Goffin’s next opponent, No. 23 seed Roberto Bautista Agut, also prevailed in five sets, edging Pablo Carreno Busta 4-6 6-4 6-0 2-6 6-4. Bautista saved a mini-match point at 4-all in the decider. Fifth seed Stan Wawrinka was made to work hard for his place in the third round of the US Open, overcoming Korean teenager Hyeon Chung 7-6(2) 7-6(4) 7-6(6) on Thursday at Flushing Meadows. One of the brightest young stars on the ATP World Tour, 19-year-old Chung tested Wawrinka until the final point. The Korean led by a break in the 2nd set and had a set point in the 3rd-set tie-break, but was denied by the Swiss, who clinched victory in just over three hours. “I’m happy to get through, it could have been more than three sets… he played some great tennis in those tiebreak and I’m happy to win this match,” said Wawrinka. “[He] can be really good, for sure, he’s young and already playing well,” he said of his opponent. The 30-year-old Wawrinka has reached at least the quarter-finals in the first three majors of the season and was a semi-finalist at the US Open in 2013. As he bids to reach the fourth round in New York, he will face Ruben Bemelmans, who advanced when Jack Sock was forced to retire from their contest due to heat illness, complicated by cramping. Sock had been leading 6-4 6-4 3-6 2-1. “It’s going to be exciting for me [and] the first time I’ll play against him,” said Bemelmans of Wawrinka. “He’s an amazing player, he’s achieved so many things. I’m going to go out and give everything I have and enjoy [it] on the court and not put too much pressure on [myself].” Thomaz Bellucci dismissed the challenge of Japanese teenager Yoshihito Nishioka with a 6-0 6-3 6-4 victory in 1 hour and 40 minutes. The 30th seed from Brazil is through to the third round of a major for the first time since 2011 Roland Garros, where he lost to Gasquet. Donald Young took down Aljaz Bedene 3-6 6-4 6-4 6-2 in 2 hours and 46 minutes to reach the third round. The American posted back-to-back wins in New York for the first time since 2011 (fourth-round) and will face Viktor Troicki, who outlasted serve-and-volleyer Rajeev Ram 7-6(10) 6-4 3-6 6-3 saving two set points in the tie-break. Lleyton Hewitt has bowed out of the US Open to compatriot Bernard Tomic. The younger Aussie prevailed 6-3 6-2 3-6 5-7 7-5 in a tense battle that lasted 3 hours and 27 minutes. The No. 1 Australian fired 25 aces and saved two match points in his first ever meeting against Hewitt, who was contesting his final US Open. Tomic converted his second match point with a forehand winner, ending the veteran Australian’s efforts to mount his first comeback from a two-sets-to-love deficit at Flushing Meadows. “I left it all out there again,” Hewitt said, adding that he’d miss the atmosphere in New York. “Night matches are really special at the Open,” he said. Hewitt was also bidding for a seventh comeback from two sets down. He has now played 57 five-set matches (32-25) – the most in the Open Era (58) experienced Ivan Lendl (36-22). The 34-year-old, who won his first Grand Slam at the US Open in 2001, has contested 15 of the past 16 US Open tournaments at Flushing Meadows and as runner-up to Federer in 2004. “He goes out, like at Wimbledon, on his terms: five-set thriller again, full stadium, I’m sure just the best atmosphere, he deserves it,” Federer said of Hewitt. “He was a big challenge in my career, to understand how in the world can you be so tough physically and mentally at such a young age, it was for me the impossible thing to understand”. The Swiss said Hewitt made him work harder in practice, get his act together on the court, “play tough but fair”. “He changed the game to some extent, I think he can be very proud of that because he was the player [who] just wouldn’t miss, [the] best counter-puncher [we’d] ever seen at that point…” Hewitt, who is planning to retire after next year’s Australian Open, said the one rival he’ll miss competing against the most is Federer. “He’s a huge legend… it was difficult playing him tonight. What a privilege it was today, for me,” Tomic said of Hewitt. “It was a very emotional match for both of us,” he said, adding that he squeezed out the win by refusing to play defensively on big points. “You have to go for it…I came out [on top] of a few matches this year like this because I did the right thing in these positions.” Tomic has reached the third round of the US Open for the first time, and next meets 12th seed Richard Gasquet, who overcame Dutchman Robin Haase 4-6 6-3 7-6(4) 6-4 being two points away from a 1-2 deficit in sets. No. 15 seed Kevin Anderson needed just 1 hour and 32 minutes to dispatch American ‘wild card’ Austin Krajicek 6-3 6-4 6-2. The 29-year-old Anderson fired 20 aces and never faced a break point. Andy Murray lived to fight another day at Flushing Meadows after downing Frenchman Adrian Mannarino 5-7 4-6 6-1 6-3 6-1 on a sweltering Thursday (3 hours 21 minutes), thereby completing his eighth comeback from two sets down. Mannarino, who has reached the third round of the US Open in the past two years, dictated play in the first part of the match, striking 30 winners to Murray’s 23 in the first two sets. The left-hander was close to lose both sets he sensationally won: *4:5 (30-all) in the 1st set & *3:4 (30/40) in the 2nd set – served an ace. “I’m proud of the way I fought,” said Murray. “It was not an easy match to come through at all. [Mannarino] was making it extremely difficult for me, as well. Thought he played some really, really good tennis. He has such an unorthodox game, I didn’t really feel that comfortable at many points out there in the match. But, yeah, I was happy, very happy with the way I finished the match stronger than him.” The World No. 3 found his level and stormed back to the take the next three sets in 95 minutes. He will face Bellucci in the next round. The Brazilian won the pair’s lone meeting (2011 Madrid on clay) 6-4 6-2. “In these conditions, obviously it can take its toll later on in the tournament,” said Murray. “But unfortunately you don’t always have the luxury of winning matches in straight sets. Sometimes you have to fight through. Maybe if you’re not playing your best, just find a way to get through. Thankfully the last three sets were fairly comfortable in terms of scoreline; otherwise I could have been out there much longer. I’ve played matches much longer than that, but it’s not easy to recover in these conditions.” Jiri Vesely survived 43 aces from Ivo Karlovic to take down the No. 21 seed 7-6(3) 3-6 3-6 6-2 7-6(4) in 3 hours and 32 minutes. The 22-year-old Czech only converted 2 of 13 break point chances, and took the match despite having won fewer points (153-155) than his opponent. Roger Federer has moved through to the third round of the US Open in a canter, making light work of Steve Darcis 6-1 6-2 6-1 on Thursday night. The five-time champion needed just 80 minutes to see off the Belgian’s challenge on Arthur Ashe Stadium and has not been broken now in his past 72 service games. “I was able to mix it up, was attacking, was also staying back some. I was pretty much all-out attack as much as I could,” Federer said. “Obviously I have to manage that against different players when the scoreline isn’t maybe so one-sided.”
Novak Djokovic made an explosive start to his mission to win a third Grand Slam title of 2015 with a 6-1 6-1 6-1 win over Brazilian Joao Souza. And he hopes his fellow title contenders were watching. “With a dominant win like the one today, it adds to your confidence, your self-belief,” said Djokovic. “But it’s also making a statement for everybody that is out there watching. We are all watching each other’s matches. We are all seeing how each other progresses. It’s important you’re out on the court with the right intensity and you’re sending a good message, and I’ve done so.” In the next round, Djokovic will face Andreas Haider-Maurer, who outlasted Vasek Pospisil 6-4 3-6 6-7(0) 6-0 6-1. Pospisil looked to run away with the match after a dominant showing in the 3rd-set tie-break (saved two set points at *4:5 & won 14 consecutive points, then lost 10 straight games), but began experiencing leg cramps and faded down the stretch. David Ferrer overcame a slow start to knock out Radu Albot of Moldavia 4-6 7-5 6-1 6-0. The two-time semi-finalist (2007 and 2012) is on the comeback trail and was taking part in his first match since losing in the second round of Nottingham in June. After dropping the 1st set, Ferrer was broken by Albot while serving at 5:4 in the 2nd set. The 33-year-old found his rhythm and controlled play thereafter, breaking nine times in the 2 hour and 46 minute win, his first since Roland Garros. Last year’s US Open runner-up Kei Nishikori is out of the 2015 championships after Benoit Paire saved two match points to defeat the fourth seed 6-4 3-6 4-6 7-6(6) 6-4 on Monday in New York. The 26-year-old Paire came into Flushing Meadows on the back of a first-round loss to Korean teenager Hyeon Chung in Winston-Salem last week, but held his nerve to edge Nishikori in 3 hours and 14 minutes. “It’s always very sad to lose in the first round, but I think he was playing good tennis,” said Nishikori. “I don’t think I played badly. Didn’t play great, but still, it’s never easy first match. He’s a good player. I will try to think about the next one, and I hope I can come back strong next year.” Having dropped the 1st set, Nishikori seemed poised for victory as he turned the score line around and held two match points at *6:4 in the 4th set tie-break. However, the Japanese pushed a forehand wide on his first opportunity on serve and was denied on his second on Paire’s serve. The Frenchman then clinched his first set point chance when Nishikori netted a backhand. Paire secured an early break advantage in the 5th set and went on to close out victory in the first match of the day on Louis Armstrong Stadium. The right-hander goes on to face Turkey’s Marsel Ilhan, who was leading 6-0 2-6 6-4 3-2 when Radek Stepanek retired from their match (one of nine retirements in the first round – the most in the tournament history). “I had match point and I kind of lost a little bit my forehand,” said Nishikori. “Tie-breaks can go both ways so maybe I lost a little bit of concentration, but he was hitting good serves, too. Especially in the first couple of games in the fifth set I lost my concentration and he returned well, too. Credit for him, too, playing good tennis with these conditions.” Playing in his final tournament, Mardy Fish put his impending retirement on hold as he defeated Marco Cecchinato 6-7(5) 6-3 6-1 6-3 in just under three hours. Cecchinato has a 0-8 main-level record after the match. The 33-year-old Fish announced at the start of the summer that he would be ending his tennis-playing career after his 13th appearance at Flushing Meadows. Rafael Nadal has avenged a defeat to Croatian young gun Borna Coric to reach the second round of the US Open on Monday night. The Spaniard, returning to Flushing Meadows for the first time since winning his second US Open title two years ago, came into the match having lost to his 18-year-old opponent in their only prior encounter – at the quarter-final stage in Basel last October. But under lights on Arthur Ashes Stadium, the No. 8 seed ensured it would not be back-to-back defeats against the teenager, emerging 6-3 6-2 4-6 6-4 in 2 hours and 46 minutes. “I think I played great. The first two sets I played a very high level of tennis,” Nadal said. “Seriously, then I get a little bit tired… But then in the fourth I recovered little bit. I played again more aggressive.” Fifth seed Stan Wawrinka has shaken off a third-set wobble to claim a second-round berth at the US Open on Tuesday, with a 7-5 6-4 7-6(6) victory over Albert Ramos. The 2-hour, 14-minute win takes the 30-year-old Swiss native’s Head2Head against the Spaniard to a perfect 5-0. He clocked 53 winners to the 27-year-old’s 25, breaking on five of his 12 opportunities. The match looked to be heading to a 4th set when the Spaniard broke for the chance to serve out the set at 6:5. Wawrinka, though, steadied to force the tie-break and took the match on his third match point when Ramos hit a backhand error. His win books a second-round clash with Korean young gun Hyeon Chung, a 6-3 6-1 6-2 winner over Australian James Duckworth. Second year running in New York a 5th set tie-break was required in a match of Joao Sousa. Last year the Portuguese ousted Frank Dancevic, this time lost to Ricardas Barankis 2-6 2-6 6-4 6-2 6-7(4) after 3 hours 34 minutes. In the late phase of the decider, berankis was close to vomiting but somehow survive erasing a bad memory of wasted match points at 6:5. More successful in coming back from a 0-2 deficit was Donal Young. The American stunned Gilles Simon 2-6 4-6 6-4 6-4 6-4 after exactly the same amount of time what Berankis needed. Young trailed *0:3 in the 3rd set. On a day when the mercury was soaring and taking a heavy toll on players, Wawrinka was thankful he had a later start. He did not consider the heat to have had any great bearing on his match. “I start at 5 p.m., so it’s not that hot for me, just humid,” he said. “Maybe I’m lucky to play that late and not during the day with the sun. I think, apart from the fact it’s really humid, it was not a big deal for me tonight.” Later, 2012 champion Andy Murray finished strongly in a tricky first-round encounter with dangerous Australian Nick Kyrgios, reaching the second round with a 7-5 6-3 4-6 6-1 victory under lights. The Scot led his 20-year-old opponent 3-0 in their H2H series coming into the contest, including straight-sets triumphs in the quarter-finals of this year’s Australian Open and in the third round of the French Open. World No. 2 Roger Federer dismissed Leonardo Mayer 6-1 6-2 6-2 in a US Open first-round clash he had been very wary of since the draw was made. The Swiss recalled his battle with Mayer from the Shanghai Rolex Masters last year, where Mayer had five match points, as one of the “luckiest” matches he has ever won, and feared a difficult contest with the Argentine at Flushing Meadows. But Federer was untroubled against Mayer in the final match of the Arthur Ashe Stadium day session, cruising into the second round in just 77 minutes. The right-hander hit 29 winners to just 13 unforced errors and broke serve six times. Fresh off a title run at the Winston-Salem Open, Kevin Anderson denied 17-year-old qualifier Andrey Rublev 7-6(1) 6-7(5) 7-5 6-3 after 3 hours and 23 minutes. Rublev’s first Grand Slam match, he broke Anderson just once – in the opening game of the match. The usually calm South African got a code violation after the 2nd set when he smacked the ball outside the stadium. Anderson pounded 32 aces and will next face ‘wild card’ Austin Krajicek in the second round. Krajicek notched his first US Open victory with 3-6 7-6(6) 7-6(6) 7-6(1) over Santiago Giraldo, saving double set point in the first tie-break & a triple set point in the second. Also falling on Tuesday were 18-year-old Alexander Zverev 6-7(0) 6-2 6-0 2-6 6-4 to countryman Philipp Kohlschreiber and American teens Jared Donaldson and Frances Tiafoe. Donaldson dropped a 7-6(7) 6-0 7-6(4) decision to Lukas Rosol, while Tiafoe fell 7-5 6-4 6-3 to Viktor Troicki, who came to New York having lost six matches in succession (since Wimbledon). Australian teenager Thanasi Kokkinakis has succumbed to brutal conditions in a cruel exit. Kokkinakis threatened to pull off a major upset before having to retire with severe cramping against 12th-seeded Frenchman Richard Gasquet. The score was locked at two sets apiece at 4-6 6-1 4-6 6-3 from Gasquet’s perspective when the 19-year-old was forced to call it a day after losing two games of the deciding set (2:55 hrs). After seizing a 2-sets-to-1 lead, Kokkinakis dropped eight straight points serving at 2:2 (30/0) in the 4th set. “I’m pretty shattered,” he said. “It’s just frustrating ’cause I started playing good tennis. I was getting fired up. At 1-all (30/0) in the fourth set, I was bouncing the ball. Then immediately I started to feel my forearm go. I’m like: ‘Oh, no, this is bad’. I didn’t feel tired physically either, which is the most frustrating thing about it. I actually felt all right.“