Federer shows genius in US Open win
Roger Federer lit up the opening day of the US Open with another moment of sheer genius during his first-round victory at Flushing Meadows.
Federer had won the first set against Argentina's Brian Dabul and was 5-3 up in the second when he conjured up a winner from between his legs with his back to the court.
Dabul looked to have played the perfect lob which landed just inside the baseline, but Federer came up with a mirror image of his famous winner in his semi-final against Novak Djokovic last year.
The world number two achieved a standing ovation from the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd, while a wave of his arms suggested Federer could not believe the shot himself.
To his credit, world number 96 Dabul saved five break points in that game and four in his previous service game before Federer eventually served out for the set on his way to a 6-1 6-4 6-2 victory in 93 minutes.
Speaking about the shot between his legs, Federer said: "I thought I was a bit late and had to give it one last push to get there but thought I could do this again.
"It's different because Novak was at the net but I've only hit a few in my life and to do two on Centre Court in night sessions is amazing.
"I feel very much at home here, I've always played some good tennis, six straight finals and would like to go there again this year and I'm excited to be back and playing well."
The only disappointing aspect of Federer's performance was converting just five of his 19 break points, but the 16-time Grand Slam winner said: "I had a lot of chances but credit to Brian too, his first time in a major and on centre court and I think he did a good job."
Only two seeds lost on the opening day, with France's Paul-Henri Mathieu handing 32nd seed Lleyton Hewitt his first defeat in the opening round of the US Open, winning 6-3 6-4 5-7 4-6 6-1.
Hewitt, a former winner here, dismissed talk of retirement and said: "I still believe I can improve as a player. When I play my best tennis, like in Halle (in June, when he beat Federer to win the title), I still feel like I can match it with anyone."
Fernando Gonzalez was the other seed to fall, the 27th seed forced to retire injured from his match with Croatia's Ivan Dodig after Dodig won the second set 6-1 to level the contest.
Elsewhere, American Andy Roddick celebrated his 28th birthday by beating France's Stephane Robert 6-3 6-2 6-2, but fifth seed Robin Soderling had a far tougher time against Austrian qualifier Andreas Haider-Maurer before winning in five sets.
France's Gael Monfils also needed five sets to beat American Robert Kendrick, the 17th seed winning 3-6 6-3 6-4 6-7 6-4 on Court 11, while sixth seed Nikolay Davydenko beat American Michael Russell 6-4 6-1 6-3 to set up a second-round clash with France's Richard Gasquet.
Croatia's Marin Cilic, the 11th seed, also advanced with a 7-5 6-3 6-1 win over Illya Marchenko, while Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain, the 22nd seed, thrashed Martin Klizan of Slovakia for the loss of just four games.
Federer felt his between-the-legs shot this year was more technically difficult than his similar effort against Djokovic last year, but saw the 2009 shot as the more important in the context of the match.
"The importance of last year's was probably a little bit more important just because I think it was 0-30 to go 0-40, two points away from the match, and it was a semi-final," the Swiss said.
"So obviously that has a little bit of an impact, too.
"But maybe in terms of difficulty this one was harder, because I had the feeling I had to run a longer distance and I was further back somehow, I felt.
"I had to really give the last big push at the end. I didn't have time to set it up. So I felt like this one was incredible again. I turned around and couldn't believe the shot landed in the corner.
"The ovation was fantastic. The crowds went wild. You could see from my reaction I couldn't believe it."
A tight game could be in prospect here. Northampton have been keeping things very tight of late and ...
by Gareth Purnell
18 May 2013 02:01 AM
I can’t ever watch games of football or rugby without wistfully wondering what it must be like to be...
by Martin Ayres
16 May 2013 05:10 PM
Since PSG’s exit to Barcelona in the Uefa Champions League quarter-final in April, PSG have been sur...
by Matthew Riding
15 May 2013 02:37 PM
Aleksandar Kolarov accused of abusing Manchester City fans in ugly end to season
The Last Word: As David Beckham bows out, spare a thought for the ordinary players facing a crueller end
Arsene Wenger says Arsenal 'need stability and to strengthen in the summer' after qualifying for Champions League
Sam Wallace: The second coming of Jose Mourinho at Chelsea will be a reunion that can only end in tears
James Lawton: When will Arsène Wenger's Arsenal enter the Champions League as anything but a disposable asset?
- 1 Notes from a small island: Is Sealand an independent 'micronation' or an illegal fortress?
- 2 British business: We need to stay in the European Union - or risk losing up to £92bn a year
- 3 The moral case on tax avoidance is overwhelming - and we all know Google wants to do the right thing
- 4 Sam Wallace: The second coming of Jose Mourinho at Chelsea will be a reunion that can only end in tears
- 5 It’s official: thanks to Stephen Hawking's Israel boycott, anti-Semitism is no more
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.