What to think of the not-so-sharp Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal amidst a decimated men’s field at this year’s US Open?
In second-round play on Thursday the top-seeded Nadal dropped the first set against unheralded Japanese Taro Daniel 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2. Federer took it one step further, needing five sets to put down an injured Mikhail Youzhny 6-1, 6-7(3), 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.
“[My back is] better than the first round, so I’m happy,” Federer said afterwards. “Yeah, this match wasn’t about the back, which is good. This is more just a grind. I felt different, completely different, the way it played and everything. But I’m really, really happy I got through.”
Federer will next meet No. 31-seeded Spaniard Feliciano “F-Lo” Lopez. Nadal will face Argentine Leo Mayer.
No. 6 Dominic Thiem and No. 9 David Goffin were other Top 10 winners on the day, with the Austrian defeating American Taylor Fritz 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 7-5, and the Belgian outlasting Argentine Guido Pella 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-7(2), 7-6(4), 6-3.
“I think there are many players out there, like also Taylor, who make it really, really tough for players like me because they take away all my time,” Thiem said after beating the American. “They play flat. It’s really tough for me to turn the defense what they push you into offense. Well, these matches like today, you just have to win. That’s what I did. That’s why I’m pleased.”
Lower-seeded victors Thursday were No. 11 Roberto Bautista Agut, No. 18 Gael Monfils needing five sets to subdue American Donald Young, No. 24 Juan Martin del Potro, No. 30 Adrian Mannarino, and No. 33 Philipp Kohlschreiber.
On the upset tip Thursday were Russian Andrey Rublev who in straight sets shocked No. 7 Grigor Dimitrov 7-5, 7-6(3), 6-3, and Alexandr “The Dog” Dolgopolov who took advantage of a back-addled No. 15 Tomas Berdych 3-6, 6-1, 7-6(5), 6-2.
“I think my style of the game is just to play aggressive, to try to play my rhythm because I have quite, I think in my opinion, quite well rhythm, that I can play, compete with many good guys,” Rublev said after upsetting Dimitrov. “I think this is one of the main things of my game…In the end, I was little bit lucky. I make a good few returns. I hit maybe few points close to the line. In the end I break.”
Not-quite-highlights to look for on Friday on the Federer-Nadal off day at the US Open include Denis Shapovalov vs. Kyle Edmund, (10) John Isner vs. (23) Mischa Zverev, and (28) Kevin Anderson vs. Borna Coric.
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