Grand SlamsRoger FedererUS Open

Federer Negates Nagal in US Open First Round

The Swiss came from a set down to progress 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 into Round Two

Roger Federer is through to round 2 at Flushing Meadows after overcoming a dreadful start against qualifier Sumit Nagal to progress 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 in two hours and 30 minutes.

The win means Federer has qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals and also maintains his first-round match win streak in majors which is now at 62 dating back to 2003.

However, it wasn't plain sailing from the Swiss as Nagal took advantage of a dire first set to get in front but couldn't stretch his lead once Federer had cut down his unforced error count.

Next up for Federer is Damir Dzhumur after the Bosnian saw off qualifier Elliot Benchetrit also in four sets.

Quick Match Recap

Federer USO 1R 2019

Federer won the toss and elected to serve. The Swiss was forced to deuce, but a couple of moves forward saw him hold for 1-0. 

With Nagal not known for his serving prowess, he was quickly down a break as Federer broke to fifteen. However, two double faults from the Fed Express in game three helped Nagal get back on serve.

The Indian qualifier then held for 2-2 before Federer got back in the lead with a hold to thirty for 3-2. An exchange of holds to thirty from both saw the scoreboard tick over to 4-3.

A comfortable hold from Nagal saw him level at 4-4 and then a dreadful service game from Federer meant the Indian moved up 5-4.

Nagal needed no second invitations, serving it out to thirty to take the opener. The first set saw Federer's serve and forehand all over the shop, landing just 48% of first serves, winning 31% behind the second and firing 19 unforced errors.

Into set two and some more sloppy play saw Federer pegged to deuce before holding for 1-0.  The Swiss was then able to fashion multiple breakpoints, seeing three pass him by before Nagal hit back to back double faults to drop serve.

A hold to fifteen consolidated the break for Federer, and he was able to move up a double break for 4-0. A speedy hold put Roger up 5-0 and although Nagal held for 1-5 Roger was able to level at a set all, converting his seventh set point of the game to take it 6-1.

Set three kicked off with Federer ripping some groundstrokes to break for 1-0. A hold to thirty consolidated the break for 2-0 and Roger was able to move through the gears to forge a 4-1 lead, significantly cutting his unforced error count to do so.

With Federer's numbers getting progressively better he was able to take the third set 6-2, winning 9 out of 9 at the net and limiting Nagal to just 33% of points won behind his first serve.

Into the fourth and Federer was able to strike early again, breaking in the opening game for 1-0. The break was then consolidated after a couple of deuces for 2-0 to put Federer well on the way.

Nagal then got himself on the board with a hold for 1-2 before taking advantage of a sloppy Federer service game that featured a double fault at deuce to break back.

Federer was able to break again instantly, then consolidate for 4-2 and after maintaining his advantage, he was soon a game away at 5-4. 

With not having served for a match since Wimbledon it was somewhat inevitable the Swiss slipped to 0-40, but he rattled off two aces to make deuce, saved a fourth break point before converting his first match point to move into Round 2.

Match Stats

  R. Federer S. Nagal
Aces 12 0
Double Faults 7 4
First Serve % In 79/131 (60%) 68/107 (64%)
Win % On 1st Serve 56/79 (71%) 40/68 (59%)
Win % On 2nd Serve 25/52 (48%) 18/39 (46%)
Net Points Won 33/50 (66%) 7/17 (41%)
Break Points Won 7/13 (54%) 3/13 (23%)
Receiving Points Won 49/107 (46%) 50/131 (38%)
Winners 61 17
Unforced Errors 57 32
Total Points Won 130 108
Distance Covered 4688.6 ft 4923.2 ft
Distance Covered/pt. 19.7 ft 20.7 ft


Thoughts on the Match

Federer Nagal 1R

I think trying to forget the first set is never easy I guess in a first-round, under the lights. People expect a different result. I expect something else. I just wanted to pick up my game really, start to play better. I was able to do that. That was a relief, going up 3-Love in the second set, realising that it is on my racquet. I wasn't serving consistently enough. I was hitting double faults that usually I don't do. Also, I was just hitting too many unforced errors. I was in two minds, I guess, I was able to clear that a little bit. Maybe it's not a bad thing to go through a match like this. It was very similar at Wimbledon when I dropped the first set there as well in the first round. At the end, you look at the last three sets, and they were good. That's encouraging. Federer on his win over Nagal at the US Open

A winning start for Roger here but not the most clinical of performances. The first set was one of the worst I've seen him play for a while, making just 48% of first serves, hitting 19 unforced errors and winning just 31% behind his second serve.

Based on that level I assume Nagal was wondering what all the fuss was about as a guy who serves at 100mph and doesn't even like hardcourts had the upper hand from the baseline and deservedly won the first set.

Fortunately, Roger started getting his act together as the match wore on and once he'd become more familiar with conditions, the Wilson balls and cut down his errors he was able to power through the next three sets without too many problems. The third set being the pick of the bunch in terms of stats and he'll be happy to get through in four.

As for Nagal, he gave a good account of himself. He's got an average serve for the top level, but he got around the court well, and his inside out forehand was able to get him on top in a few of the rallies.

Most of his best plays were reactive though and over five sets that is going to be difficult to win matches against the best. Once Federer started keeping the ball in the court, the number of points he was able to win dried up and the rest is history.

Predictions vs Dzhumur

Next up is Damir Dzhumur who like Federer beat his qualifier opponent in four sets. Dzhumur has had a reasonably poor year with a couple of injuries thrown in which saw him briefly slide out of the top 100.

The Bosnian has even dropped down to the Challenger level in recent weeks in a bid to get some matches, and his win here at the US Open is his first Grand Slam victory of the season. 

Federer has played Dzhumur twice before, winning both matches comfortably and he's practised with him a ton, so he has plenty of information on his game.

In a lot of ways, he plays like Nagal; not the tallest guy and no real weapons but has excellent court coverage so will make a lot of balls. Nagal favoured his forehand, running around the backhand with a lot of success whereas Dzhumur is stronger on that side.

The main thing for Federer is to avoid a disaster start like he did today, Dzhumur has four top ten wins on his resume so has far more experience than Nagal. On form, Federer in straight sets.

What did you guys think of the win over Nagal? Predictions against Dzhumur? Let me know in the comments.


Huge fan of Roger Federer. I watch all his matches from Grand Slam level right down to ATP 250. When I'm not watching or writing about tennis I play regularly myself and have a keen interest in tactics, equipment and technicalties of the sport.

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    1. Thanks Jon for nice write up as always. Have only watched the highlights, but getting hopes from the dramatically improved stats from the last 3 sets. Many times the pattern of slow starting didn’t mean a lot, he wins anyway. I hope for that. His movement seems alright? All those 1. serves not in, and lots of df’s? Something with his hand again?

    2. Cheers, His movement was fine. Probbaly the best bit about his game tbh last night.

      No issues with his hand. We need to stop this if he plays poorly he’s injured malarkey!

  1. Luckily I only woke up at end of set 1!!
    Try similar to 1R at Wimby but here I also think practising in day time and then playing night is hard to adapt to in first match.

    You say it all Jon so onwards and hoping it doesn’t get too hot….

    1. Yeah he seemed to mention the balls in the presser, but he’s had a week with them so ample time. I think just rusty overall and Nagal did play pretty good for the most part. Whippet like on the court.

  2. I had a feeling he might drop a set first time round but 7 double faults? He’s had a lower count than that in some whole tournaments! Hoping he can work himself into better form as the rounds progress.

  3. Let’s hope for improvement as the week goes on, especially with the serve since that is a large part of Fed’s success and of course of tennis in general. Go Fed!

  4. I have no doubt, Fed can rise his game to defeat Dzumhur. But I don’t see in Fed potential to go deep.
    USO is not Fed’s favorite slam. Nishikori can be end-station. If not, it’s Djoker. Would not be surprised if Fed fails earlier.
    Many are looking for some special problems (hand, back, whatever). I think, the problem is age. Every day harder to control the game against hard hitting and hard serving opponents (they are more and more, not only in Top10.

    Shanghai and maybe London mor probable to give him a title.

  5. Unluckily I woke up in the middle if set 1 because of call from the plant that killed by (until then peaceful) sleep. Not being able to fall asleep again, I went to the living room only to watch Fed doing his self-destruction magic in the second half of set one. Then I watched him win set 2 and went back to bed. No dice. I only slept 1.5 hours more until 7 am. I had checked that Fed had won. Today I’m walking around like a zombie, pissed of for work problems and for Fed not having compensated me with a late night relaxing show! Hahahaha!
    But really, if he does not get his act together soon I don’t seem him going beyond round 3 or 4.
    The service went from “terrible” to “so-so” as the match progressed however, the last match game was a microcosmos of the match until then. Luckily, the service replied “present” at the critical time. As for the other shots, it was clear that he tuned his game progressively in technical terms: less FH errors, less BH sailing long, better returns.

    And, yes, he can thank the Fortune because Nagal missed a few forehand shots at critical points by a few cm, and the double fault at set 2 to hand the first break was an undeserved gift.


    1. Agree, the level needs a significant bump. But in some ways similar to the Lloyd Harris match although don’t think he’s served as bad as he did last night in a while…

  6. Thanks for the write up Jonathan.
    Didn’t see the match but,the horrible clothes,the scruffy beard,the 57 unforced errors and the double faults makes me rather glad I didn’t.😎
    Still,a win is a win and I think he dropped the first set in the first round at Wimbledon.
    Whereas he played brilliantly in the first round last year and then look what happened.
    So by using a sort of reverse psychology he should do well from here on in.
    He will certainly need to.

  7. The outfit is terrible. Why all those white rims and stripes? With a few more it could be called the “Fed-Tron” design. Argh.
    Really, we need a revolution in sports clothing design. What we have now is appalling.

  8. Thanks for the write-up, Jonathan. I watched the whole match. Among the four sets, the first and 4th were not at all comfortable to watch. UFE count and BF were unbelievably high; his FH misfired so much. I don’t remember a match in which Roger had 7 DFs. Balls flew away from Roger’s racket as if strings were like springs and Roger hit so many balls long and wide, just unreal. Moreover, Roger rushed so many shots as if he had a dinner date to catch after the match. Not sure what you make it, Jonathan, is ball very light? In addition, serving at big points, Roger just could not find the 1st serves at some of key points. I hope that he is now used to the conditions so that he can get through the next few rounds a bit easier.
    Allez Rog!

    1. He said in press that the balls aren’t very lively. So not taking spin much, perhaps that’s why he was struggling to keep it in the court. But he’s had a whole week with them…

      1. He can come on court with a full santa beard so long he goes through his matches with little fuss 😂

  9. I was able to watch the whole match . The first set was ugly after the quick start . The first sign of pressure (serving at 4-4) Federer got broken easily, missing simple shots. The forehand particularly was all over the place. I think this is not being used to playing at night as Jonathan said.

    I think that he is still carrying that Wimbledon loss around. It took him 7 set points or something to finally convert and win the 2nd set. He would win the deuce point easily and then play passively on the ad side. It was nerves I think as he hadn’t won a set for a while. That seemed to free him up until the very last game where he predictably slipped to 0-40 when serving for it. But fortunately he seemed to remember who he was and then made 2/3 first serves to get back to deuce.

    I think he is moving well actually, just his timing is off. The courts are slowish and high bouncing annoyingly. Horray! More 50 shot rallies won with an error. In particular the spin is really important here and Federer wasn’t used to it.

    He will play better in the 2nd round. I am hoping next match is a day one and Djokovic gets the night match on Ashe.

    1. Yeah the forehand was a joke, the serve perhaps even worse. He moved well I agree, just not very convincing in his play. Hopefully improves round by round, still won which is key.

  10. Felt bad to have missed his match and thought omg when I heard he said it was a horror show in the morning. But then thanks to your analysis I feel relax now and can watch reply with total ease! Fed always gets the first night match after days of practice under the sun and some people think it’s his advantage? Hope he will play the day match next which is the decent time in Europe. Hope for a good show!

    1. Tbf I think he does request night matches a lot too…

      I guess he could practice at night but even in his pomp he didn’t bother so can’t see him doing it now. But I hope day too, better for watching and not being half asleep!

      1. In day session the air humidity will be around 60% today, while it reaches 90% in the night session. Good choice for Fed. Does he ha interest for meteorology?

  11. I read a post from someone who was in Ashe the last .2 years that it is really a giant sauna. It is something to do with the way the roof is built, there is no air circulation. This makes the conditions very heavy in there and harder to breathe (remember Miliman?) I think this is why Federer has had problems there the last few years. It’s very hard to hit through the court with the heavy air . Miami is humid too but that is played in March, not August; big difference. Thinking about this, it makes 2017 and 2018’s defeats make more sense (note in 2018 he beat Kyrgios in a day match, when conditions are probably better, before losing to Miliman in a night match).

    It might sound like complaining but if you watch highlights of the US Open in 2006-2012 I believe it was much faster then.

    1. Yes, it is a sauna. I was there last year and the roof does prevent any air to circulate. I would stand on the concourse to just breathe in some fresh (well, sort of) air. The roof covers so much of the stadium which is great for shade but very heavy air.

    2. The humidity is the same for both players though. Djokovic has historically been poor in ultra humid / warm conditions but coped last year…

      Agreed on the speed though, the court is slow, Fed said the same in practice and that the balls are dead. I saw some of Rafa’s practice and even he was hitting fairly flat on both wings.

  12. I’ve changed my mind about the outfit. When I look at the collar, I think Catholic Priest. Doesn’t look good on. Hoping he wears the one from Cinci in day matches.
    I watched the 1st set then had to go out. The 1st time in my life I didn’t mind doing that. With Fed, it is so unpredictable these days. That is the hard part. Controlled aggression went on a walk-about. Hope that was the “bad” match of the tournament.
    Did any fans actually think they were going to see a Fedal match?
    Well, onwards and upwards! Thanks for the post, Jonathan. I wish Fed was as consistent as you!

    1. That Nagal joke has been done to death 😆 even Brad Gilbert tried to get it on the act, Fed was like 🤨

      You didn’t miss much for the next 3 sets, some ok points, that’s about it. Nagal prob had the better shotmaking.

  13. ¿Someone knows what the shit happened with Steiner and the ATP?
    Clearly it wasn’t about those interviews, they found the excuse.

    1. All the info I have seen is from the NY Times piece. They said for unauthorised interviews. Is there more too it? Dunno, maybe but what?

      Seems like a harsh rule, but one he probably will have known. I’ve never seen any interviews with umpires before while they are working so he must have known there was a risk. Imagine how many requests Carlos Ramos had last year!

      1. He said literally in one of those interviews that the Wimbledon final was his first and last GS final for sure… Clearly he knew this was coming.

    1. Yeah I am not a huge fan of it either to be honest, not dreadful but I wouldn’t wear it. I saw someone post a picture on twitter with it on, didn’t look like a good fit or look. The clothes were wearing him, not the other way around.

  14. I don’t mind the tuxedo outfit. But … as the New York Post writes: “The unshaven Federer moved to 19-0 in first-round Open matches. ‘I played like my beard today — rusty,’ Federer said. ‘I’m going to shave it off for the next match.’”

    Yes, please, Mr Federer! Lose the beard, not the match!!

      1. Well,I am not.
        I would imagine (though I don’t know obviously)that it must be itchy.
        From a ladies point of view,okay if you don’t have to kiss them😊
        Chance would be a fine thing!!

      2. Sorry, Jonathan, an unshaven Roger looks more than rusty….he promised to take it off for the next match…with a win let us hope!

      3. As long as the serve goes ⬆️and the errors go ⬇️, I’ll be happy with Round 2 (assuming a WIN over Džumhur of course!)

  15. Is anyone watching the Rublev vTsitsy match?
    Too close to call,but shows why Fed found him very difficult in a best of three and never having played him before.

      1. I am afraid that he is getting a bit of a reputation for being a time waster/prima donna.
        He left the court in the middle of the second set to go to the bathroom leaving Rublev
        hanging around on court for five minutes and visibly annoyed.
        The leg business was weird,he seemed to be cramping,had treatment for it(I thought that was against the rules)and then began running and serving as usual.
        You feel that if a player cannot play four sets without cramping(allegedly)they were unlikely to go very far in the tournament.
        Rather a shame because I like his game,he is good at the net and plays with more variety than many of the young ones .

  16. Was impossible to see the match (had to be up for work at 5, like today…) and haven’t had a chance to see highlights, but I don’t think this kind of thing you can look too deep into. He’s capable of reaching the semis no matter how he’s playing, now I maintain that he doesn’t have it right now mentally to beat Djokovic (I, personally, don’t think he will ever do it again, in a slam, unless he manages to beat him in best of 3 beforehand, but that’s aside from the point), and from what I’m reading his level would reflect that. I think losing to Djokovic in a semi final would make the season a good one overall anyway (not a great one, would have been a great one with a slam win) slam-wise, so I wouldn’t be too disappointed.

  17. Wow, after R1 there is a huge drain of seeded players:
    * Thiem
    * Khachanov
    * Tsitsipas
    * Auger-Alliasime
    * Fognini

      1. Thiem had still virus and should have withdrawn. Did not see others, so don’t know, what was wrong with them. They say, Tsitsipas had some problem with leg. But I guess, primarily his problem was Rublev and shoelaces – with this 2 factors you must get a problem with legs 😉

    1. Yes,an extraordinary first round.Even Fed and Warwinka dropping sets.
      Also Bautista Agut out in five sets.
      Of course Djoker and Nadal sail through in straits.😡

  18. Thanks for the excellent write up as always.
    I missed the match! But Cheers.
    This new outfit will helpful to Federer. Hoping Federer will soon end the US Open with winning the Cup.

  19. Thiem is out so less nonsense from his fan to deal with. Roger was lucky to play Nagal as a Rublev might have taken him out. Hope Roger picks it up from R2. Funny how poorly Tsitsi has been performing since he made the big statement before FO that he is ready to start winning the big ones along with other nextgen mates. Nick looks to be in good nick, but it is too much to expect from him to play well without getting in trouble for an entire tournament.

    1. Thank you 🙂 Thiem was ill and had zero fitness. Yeah – nonsense was he has not withdrawn. And your logic is poor. After Thiem is out, I will have more time to post here about Fed, hahaha …

  20. I wonder what virus Thiem has? Epstein Barr? .I would suggest rest or he could go the way of Robin Soderling.
    Happy for Pospisil, big win for him considering only back on tour for a month or so. He could inch his way up if he stays healthy and doesn’t choke in the big moments. 🙂
    Of course the William sisters are front and centre as usual. Serena could be 200th in the ranking and would still be prime time on AA.
    I see Shapo is trialing Youzhny as a coach. I say a very good move. Felix really had no answers.
    I saw part of the ST vs Rublev match. Strange one but now ST is seeing how hard it is to be consistently in the mix.
    And NK is usual self with Steve Johnson not impressed.
    The crowd at the USO are constantly talking, walking around, arriving late to their seats. Not cool.
    Go Roger! Hope to see some of the match.

  21. The man had a grand total of two competitive matches on HC between Wimbledon and this tournament, it’s understandable he’d be a little rusty. But he got it done. He’ll only improve the next couple rounds.

    Hoping for low humidity and mild temperatures throughout the tournament. Probably a vain hope, but hoping nonetheless.

    Katyani, one match down, only six to go before he captures the title!

  22. Federer has a cakewalk until the SF even playing badly. Once there who knows what can happen. I see too much pesimism here.

  23. Well I watched the first set – 6-3 for Dzumur, 4-0 at one point. Federer looks really lost out there, missing shots left and right. He might be out today, I’m serious, he really looks like he’d not be there. Maybe he’ll pick it up in the 2nd.

  24. Oh dear.
    That first set was quite excruciating to watch.
    The forehand!Once the mightiest stroke in tennis ,in that set an unforced error machine.

      1. But he still came on..? Well I didn’t watch, just followed livescore. You are worried? Then I’m too.

    1. Annie, I was more fortunate than you. I started watching around when he saved BP in the opening game of set 2, then went on to break in the next game. So I have no idea how badly he played in set 1. Ignorance is bliss 🙂

      Still, he won in four with his B+ game against a surprisingly spry opponent. Still a couple rounds to go before he has to be really sharp. Plenty of time to adjust to the conditions.

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