Taking years off the lives of his fans in the process, Roger Federer is still alive at the US Open.
In a match that looked every bit like two ailing men over 35 playing tennis, Federer won ugly over Mikhail Youzhny in the second round, 6-1, 6-7 (3), 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.
Federer looked to be cruising after a stellar opening set, but he failed to serve out the second set and the fourth, though he still managed to snag the latter to force a deciding set.
Though he again downplayed his back issues after the match, Federer’s game was obviously limited, though not exactly as it was in the first round against Frances Tiafoe. He also won that match in five sets. Meanwhile, Youzhny, 35, eventually felt the effects of playing four sets on Wednesday, caused by rain on Tuesday, even falling to the court early in the fifth set.
By improving to 17-0 over Youzhny, Federer passes Andre Agassi for second among Open Era men with 80 wins at the US Open. It’s also the first time he’s begun a major with two five-setters, as well as the first time he’s won them back-to-back in New York.
Federer managed another escape, something many of his peers have not engineered in the early rounds at Flushing Meadows. Cincinnati champion Grigor Dimitrov was the latest big name to fall, sluggishly losing in straights to Russian teenager Andrey Rublev.
On the women’s side, top seed Karolina Pliskova bounced back from a slow start to beat Nicole Gibbs, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, and Shelby Rogers edged out Dasha Gavrilova in the longest women’s match in US Open history. Rogers prevailed 7-6 (6), 4-6, 7-6 (5) in 3:31, surpassing the 2015 record of 3:23 when Johanna Konta beat Garbine Muguruza in the second round.