New York - Third seed Roger Federer battled to defeat 19-year-old
American Frances Tiafoe in five sets to reach the US Open second round on
Tuesday night in New York.
The Swiss 19-time grand slam winner needed 2hr 37min to down
Tiafoe 4-6, 6-2, 6-1, 1-6, 6-4 to set up a second round meeting with either
Slovenian Blaz Kavcic or Russian Mikhail Youzhny.
The state of Federer’s back injury remains a concern for
fans, which happened over two weeks ago during the final in Montreal.
In his on-court interview with Tom Rinaldi after his
victory, the 36-year-old admitted that his back injury concerns were
responsible for his slow start.
"I was maybe a bit worried with my back issue from a
couple of weeks ago," said Federer, "but eventually I was able to let
Rinaldi then asked Federer how he was feeling physically.
"Extremely well, I wasn’t here last year. I’m here this year so things are
much, much better.
"To get through a five-setter you have to be okay
somehow," Federer said. "So I believe this is going to give me great
confidence in the body and also in my game because preparation was a big
Later in his press conference, the Swiss was asked more
questions by reporters about his slow start, Federer replied, "I don't
think I had the preparation I was hoping to get. Since Montreal, the focus has
been more on the back, making sure I can play the tournament rather than being
well-prepared. I always knew I was going to come in feeling rusty or not great.
"I really struggled early on. I think Frances connected
well. I kind of lost my footing sometimes. My eye wasn't working. I was
misjudging distance. I think I was also being a bit cautious with my movement.
"Then in the second set, it all started to come
together. That was good. But because of the preparation being not the best that
I've had, I was quite up and down."
He was then asked about his "dodgy" back.
"I'm very happy that I'm feeling as good as I'm feeling right now,"
Federer said. "If I had felt that my back was going to get worse every
match, I probably wouldn't have played.
"My hope and my belief is that it's only going to get
better from here because every day that goes by puts me further away from what
happened in Montreal."