New York: Five-time champion Roger Federer eased into the second round of the US Open yesterday, beating Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka 6-2, 6-2, 6-4.
The Swiss great, seeded second at Flushing Meadows behind defending champion and world number one Rafael Nadal, improved his perfect record in US Open first-round matches with his 18th win in 18 attempts.
As the opening attraction of the night session on Arthur Ashe Stadium, Federer escaped the worst of hot, humid conditions that punished players earlier in the day.
Nor did he meet much resistance from Nishioka, who was ranked 58th in the world last March before tearing a left knee ligament and sliding out of the top 150.
After rolling through the first two sets with the loss of just four games, Federer cruised to a 4-0 lead in the third. Up 5-1, he was unable to close out the match against Nishioka’s serve, and then was broken on his first attempt to serve it out himself.
Federer, who claimed is 20th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in January, would put the match away two games later, finally sealing the win with a service winner. He next faces France’s Benoit Paire, a 7-6 (8/6), 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7/5) winner over Austrian qualifier Dennis Novak.
Fourth-seeded German Alexander Zverev kept his time in the sun to a minimum with a 6-2, 6-1, 6-2 victory over Canadian lucky loser Peter Polansky.
And Australian Nick Kyrgios, opening the evening action on Louis Armstrong stadium, fired 25 aces and 48 total winners in a 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 victory over Moldova’s Radu Albot.
For many, however, the day was a hard slog and the decision made some two hours in to afford the men a heat break after a third set wasn’t enough to prevent half a dozen retirements.
Italy’s Stefano Travaglia, Argentine Leonardo Mayer, Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis, Russian Mikhail Youzhny and Serbian Filip Krajinovic were all victims of the heat while Romanian Marius Copil succumbed to an arm injury in the third set of his match with seventh-seeded former champion Marin Cilic.
In the women’s section, Maria Sharapova shattered the fairytale return of 39-year-old Patty Schnyder, winning a roller-coaster first round clash 6-2, 7-6 (8/6).
Schnyder, the oldest ever player to make the main draw of a Grand Slam via qualifying, was outgunned by the five-time major champion in the first set and for the majority of the second.
However, she bravely battled back from 1-5 down to 6-6, showing the sort of ability and court-craft which won her 11 titles and once took her to seven in the world rankings.
She even saved three match points in the tiebreaker before Sharapova’s 23rd winner of the night sealed victory shortly before midnight.
Two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova beat Belgian Yanina Wickmayer 6-1, 6-4 and 2017 runner-up Madison Keys downed France’s Pauline Parmentier 6-4, 6-4.