Roger Federer was left to battle another five-setter before he advanced to the third round at Flushing Meadows while both top seeds Rafael Nadal and Karolina Pliskova dropped a set apiece before winning their second round matches.
Federer, who had needed a five-setter against Frances Tiafoe in his opening round match, looked to be cruising to a much easier win in his second round encounter against Russia’s Mikhail Youzhny on Thursday at the US Open.
He took the first set 6-1 but the Russian came back strongly to win the next two sets including the second in a tie-breaker. A stunned Federer, who had gone into the match with a 16-0 head to head record against Youzhny, fought back from there to complete a 6-1, 6-7 (3-7), 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 victory over the Russian.
Federer said while he was happy to have made the third round it was his poor preparation that was responsible for his underwhelming performances so far.
“My preparation hasn’t been good at all here. I knew I was going to maybe struggle early on. Maybe I struggled more than I would have liked to.
“But I’m still in the draw, which gives me a chance.”
The Swiss legend will now play the 31st seeded Feliciano Lopez, a player against whom he has won 12 matches and lost none.
In another second round encounter, Nadal lost the first set to Taro Daniel of Japan but came back strongly to close out the match in four. He won 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.
Nadal faces Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer for a place in the round of 16.
In the women’s section of the draw, the top seeded Pliskova made a poor start as well before coming through against USA’s Nicole Gibbs. She now faces Zhang Shuai in the third round.
French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko also made the third round with a straight-set win over Sorana Cirstea, while fourth seeded Elina Svitolina dropped eight games in her victory against Evgeniya Rodina.
Upsets of the Day at the US Open:
Grigor Dimitrov, who won the Cincinnati Masters recently, was one of the dark horses going into the competition, but he bit the dust against Andrey Rublev. The seventh seed went down in straight sets to his Russian opponent. This frees up Nadal’s quarter of the draw which now has the ninth-seeded David Goffin as the highest seed remaining.
15th seeded Tomas Berdych has been a semi-finalist here but he was sent packing by Alexandr Dolgopolov, who went into the match with a cloud of match-fixing hanging over a match he participated in not so long ago. Dolgopolov won 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2.
Fifth seeded Caroline Wozniacki also bowed out to Ekaterina Makarova, losing in three sets.