You are here

Nadal takes first step towards Federer US Open showdown

By Reuters - Aug 30,2017 - Last updated at Aug 30,2017

Rafael Nadal of Spain competes against Dusan Lajovic of Serbia during their Men’s Singles tennis match at the 2017 US Open Tennis Championships in New York on Tuesday (Anadolu Agency photo by Mohammed Elshamy)

NEW YORK — World No. 1 Rafa Nadal dismissed Dusan Lajovic 7-6 (6), 6-2, 6-2 to ease into the US Open second round on Tuesday, setting the Spaniard on a collision course for a long overdue Flushing Meadows showdown with Roger Federer.

While the year’s final Grand Slam is only just under way tennis fans have circled September 8 when, if all goes to form, Nadal and Federer would meet in the last four to decide a place in the final.

One of the great rivalries in sport, Federer, a five-times US Open winner and Nadal, twice champion, have clashed 37 times over the years, but never have they stood across the net on Flushing Meadows’ hardcourts.

On French Open clay, Wimbledon’s manicured lawns and in Australian heat, the elegant Swiss maestro and muscular Spaniard have played for titles and while no trophy would be on the line a New York meeting would still have the Big Apple buzzing.

Federer survived a first round scare from Frances Tiafoe as the Swiss ground out a 4-6, 6-2, 6-1, 1-6, 6-4 victory over the American teenager before a raucous crowd at the US Open on Tuesday.

Federer looked more relieved than overjoyed when Tiafoe’s forehand found the net on match point to keep his hopes of a 20th Grand Slam title alive.

The 19-year-old Tiafoe broke Federer in the first game of the match and bellowed out a loud “Come on!” when his forehand winner found the line to capture the opening set. 

Federer, who has won this year’s Australian Open and Wimbledon since taking a six-month break last year, soon found his groove once he broke Tiafoe to take a 3-1 lead in the second set and reeled off nine of the next 10 games. 

“Today I won. That’s the most important thing for me,” Nadal told reporters. “I believe that I am ready.”

After a sluggish run-up to the US Open that included a shock round of 16 loss to Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov in Montreal and another to Australian Nick Kyrgios in the Cincinnati quarter-finals, Nadal needed a few games to find his range against the 85th-ranked Serb.

The 21-year-old, chasing a first US Open win, showed no sign of nerves, using his stylish groundstrokes to grab the early break on the way to 4-2 lead, the four games as many as he won in his only other meeting with Nadal, a round of 16 loss at the 2014 French Open.

But a steely Nadal found his comfort zone, breaking back at 5-5 to force the opener to a tiebreak that he took 8-6.

A ruthless Nadal delivered the young Serb another tennis lesson, breaking his opponent at the first opportunity in the second and third sets to improve his record in first round US Open matches to 13-0.

“Tough beginning of the match,” said Nadal, who will next meet American Tommy Paul or Japan’s Taro Daniel.

“The important thing is to win because is normal that you have some nerves at the beginning and you get a little bit tight at the beginning of the tournament. 

 

“So important thing is be through and that’s what I did today.”

up
58 users have voted.

Add new comment

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
11 + 9 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.

Newsletter

Get top stories and blog posts emailed to you each day.