NEW YORK –– When Roger Federer led Mikhail Youzhny by a set and a break in their second-round US Open match on Thursday, it seemed for all the tennis world like he was headed toward a walk in the park.
After all, Federer entered with a 16-0 career mark against the 35-year-old Russian journeyman and this latest encounter looked like it could end in about 90 minutes. Federer was actually coming off a day in the park, having practiced in Central Park during his day off on Wednesday, when he said 20 courts worth of people stopped playing to watch him play. Youzhny, by contrast, had spent 3 hours, 6 minutes on court Wednesday in his first-round match.
But the match took several dramatic turns, with Youzhny getting the better of the 19-time major champion for two sets before Federer finally prevailed, 6-1, 6-7(3), 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 in 3 hours, 8 minutes.
Federer, who didn’t lose a single set en route to his eighth Wimbledon title this summer, has now lost four sets through two matches here and has spent 5 hour, 45 minutes on court. He has played back-to-back five-setters to open a major tournament for the first time following his five-set win over American Frances Tiafoe under the lights on Tuesday.