Roger Federer made a brisk start to his 2018 US Open Campaign with a 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 win over Yoshihito Nishioka in Tuesday's night session on Arthur Ashe.
Playing in his 18th US Open the Swiss has never lost in the opening round and he made short work against an opponent who was using his Protected Ranking to get into the main draw, dropping just 8 games and firing 56 winners in 1 hour and 52 minutes.
Quick Match Recap
Federer won the toss, elected to receive and he was in front immediately breaking Nishioka by winning three points in a row from 15-40 for 1-0. The break was soon consolidated and with Nishioka looking a little overwhelmed he was soon down a double break as Roger swept the set 6-2.
Into set two and a similar pattern emerged as Nishioka dropped serve in game one. A 45-second hold put the Swiss 2-0 in front and the double break was soon his back pocket as he moved into a 4-0 lead, saving three break points of his own to get there. Another break point gave Fed a point for 5-0 but Nishioka held and saved another break point in game seven to avoid the breadstick as Roger went on to take the set 6-2.
With the match all but over, Nishioka was again broken in his first two service games at the start of set three as Roger moved into a 4-0 and 5-1 lead. At 5-1 the Swiss held two match points but Nishioka saved both en route to holding which included a funny point at deuce; Fed hits an overhead about 6 feet out, but for some reason, it's not called out and Dumusois calls Adv. Federer. Nishioka wins the next point but Roger just goes to the chair 😆 much to the confusion of the Umpire.
With Roger serving for it in game eight it looked like he'd be winning 2,2 & 2 but he slipped up, saving two break points to make deuce and a third but Nishioka finally got the break at the fourth time of asking to prolong his stay. A hold to 30 from the Japanse made things slightly more interesting at 4-5 but Roger steadied the ship with a hold to 30 to move into the second round.
|Y. Nishioka||R. Federer|
|First Serve % In||64/110 (58%)||55/82 (67%)|
|Win % On 1st Serve||29/64 (45%)||43/55 (78%)|
|Win % On 2nd Serve||27/46 (59%)||13/27 (48%)|
|Net Points Won||7/17 (41%)||31/45 (69%)|
|Break Points Won||1/9 (11%)||6/15 (40%)|
|Receiving Points Won||26/82 (32%)||54/110 (49%)|
|Total Points Won||82||110|
|Distance Covered||7450.7 Ft||7525.7 Ft|
|Distance Covered/pt.||38.8 Ft||39.2 Ft|
Thoughts on the Match
Thankfully I wasn't too nervous tonight. I felt good. I felt like I had a good preparation week. No hiccups there. I think that settles my nerves there. When you do walk out onto Arthur Ashe, you feel like people are there to see the show, enjoy themselves. Sure, they come for the tennis, but it's also sort of a bucket list, wanting to be there… it's great to have played also a good first round against an entertaining first-round opponent.
Solid start here from Roger and it was important to kick things off with a routine win after looking a bit ropey in Cincinnati. His serve was pretty solid and seemed to be moving well from the get-go. 56 winners, 15 break points created and saving 8 of the 9 break points faced is decent reading. Other than that I'm not getting carried away as he was playing an opponent who has no real weapons or a set strategy to win points and is on the comeback from a serious injury.
Overall I thought Nishioka played just ok. He's got great speed and quick hands but he played way too deep behind the baseline and looked a little shell-shocked with how little time Roger gave him on the ball. He was competing but hard but it looked a bit man vs boy out there and he only really settled into the match when he broke at the tail end of set three but it was too little too late. Roger just rushed him and overpowered him from the baseline. Interestingly Fed's groundstrokes were up about 10mph from Cincy, that is probably down to the court being a little slower giving you more time to swing but either way at least he was ripping it.
So is Fed ‘back'? Greg Rusedski seems to think so during his commentary (Side note, I think him and Petchy are a poor combination on Amazon Prime as they don't really work that well together) as he was singing his praises throughout. I think you can argue he never really went away as his results are still good, just his level has dropped a touch of late and more guys seem capable of beating him. So for me, it's too early to say if that's changed after beating Nishioka and he's still third or fourth favourite for me at this year's Open.
Predictions vs. Paire
Next up is Benoit Paire who defeated Dennis Novak in four sets. A good win for him but I was tracking the live scores and it looked a very topsy-turvy match. Novak served for the first set at 5-4 but lost it in the tie-break and he was a break up at 4-2 in the third before losing that 7-5. He was then up a break twice in the fourth before again losing it in a tie-break. I wasn't watching but that looks like a bit of a choke job to me and a match where Paire could easily have lost in straight sets.
And straights is where I think Thursday's match against Federer is going as I can't see Paire doing too much damage. I'm fairly sure he'll play some tremendous points here and there, but over the course of the match Roger will be too solid, they've practised together plenty of times and Roger has the measure of him dropping just one set in 6 meetings.
What are your predictions? Did any of you see the Paire match? Let me know in the comments.