Roger Federer overcame a sloppy start to advance to the second round of the US Open at Flushing Meadows on Monday.
Federer was taken to four sets by Indian newcomer Sumit Nagal, the world No.190 who had never earned a tour-level victory and only qualified for the year’s final Grand Slam last week.
Nagal came out swinging and even put a rare look of incredulity on the faces of those inside third-seed Federer’s box.
The 22-year-old Indian used impressive court coverage and sent heavily-spinning shots over the net during his dream start to take the first set, but his legs started to look more wobbly as the match wore on and Federer righted the ship for a 4-6 6-1 6-2 6-4 win.
The Swiss joined compatriot Stan Wawrinka in the second round, who was battling at the same time across at Louis Armstrong Stadium to subdue teen-aged qualifier Jannik Sinner.
Wawrinka, the 2016 champion in New York, eventually won 6-3 7-6(4) 4-6 6-3 to set up a battle with Frenchman Jeremy Chardy.
Federer, playing in his first Grand Slam since he failed to convert two championship points on his own serve against Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon, was down 0-40 while serving for the match but stepped up to win six of the next seven points to hold for the win.
“I thought I played like my beard today, I was rusty,” Federer, who was sporting a few days worth of stubble, said in his on-court interview.
“I’m going to clean it up for my next match.”
Up next for Federer, who is seeking a record-extending 21st career Grand Slam title, will be Bosnia’s Damir Dzumhur, who beat Frenchman Elliot Benchetrit.
The third seed is a five-time US open champion but has not won the title in Flushing Meadows since 2008. He subsequently advanced to the final in 2009 and 2015, but fell to Juan Martin del Potro and Novak Djokovic respectively.
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