NEW YORK, Aug 31 (Reuters) - Five-time champion Roger Federer was pushed to the limit for the second time in two matches but the Swiss forced his way past Russia’s Mikhail Youzhny while top seed Spaniard Rafa Nadal fought back from a tricky position to defeat Japan’s Taro Daniel at the U.S. Open on Thursday.
Third seed Federer’s back issues had hampered his preparation for the year’s final major and the results were apparent on court as the sluggish Swiss made an uncharacteristic 68 unforced errors.
After letting the advantage slip midway through the match, Federer pounced on a cramping Youzhny to seal a 6-1 6-7(3) 4-6 6-4 6-2 victory in three hours and seven minutes to reach the third round.
“These five set battles are actually a lot of fun,” Federer, who faces Spaniard Feliciano Lopez next, said in a courtside interview after the match. “I feel quite warmed up now.”
Nadal, who could meet Federer in the semi-final for their first meeting at Flushing Meadows, was a set and a break down before switching gears to beat Japan’s Taro Daniel 4-6 6-3 6-2 6-2 in two hours and 53 minutes.
“It’s true that I didn’t play very well tonight but it’s also true that I‘m through to the next round,” two-time champion Nadal, who plays Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer next, said.
Things were not easy for women’s world number one Karolina Pliskova either. The top seed, a finalist at Flushing Meadows last year, lost the first set before swatting aside American Nicole Gibbs 2-6 6-3 6-4. Up next for the Czech is China’s Zhang Shuai, who beat Japan’s Risa Ozaki 6-0 6-3.
Latvian 12th-seeded Jelena Ostapenko, seeking her second grand slam this year after claiming the French Open, defeated Romania’s Sorana Cirstea 6-4 6-4 while world number four Elina Svitolina joined her in the third round by downing Russia’s Evgeniya Rodina 6-4 6-4.
Argentine Juan Martin del Potro, who claimed his only grand slam at this event in 2009, saw off Spain’s Adrian Menendez-Maceiras 6-2 6-3 7-6(3).
Unseeded Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov upset 15th-seeded Tomas Berdych 3-6 6-1 7-6(5) 6-2 to set up a meeting with Serbian Viktor Troicki while seventh seed Grigor Dimitrov was another shock loser, going down 7-5 7-6(3) 6-3 to world number 53 Andrey Rublev.
Czech Republic’s 23rd-seed Barbora Strycova became the 15th seeded women’s player exiting the event in the first two rounds after she lost 6-1 6-1 to American Jennifer Brady.
Highlights from day four of the U.S. Open tennis championships on Thursday (all times GMT):
- Top seed Rafa Nadal battled past Japan’s Taro Daniel 4-6 6-3 6-2 6-2 in two hours and 53 minutes to enter the third round.
- Nadal next faces Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer.
- Ninth-seed David Goffin edged Argentine Guido Pella 3-6 7-6(5) 6-7(2) 7-6(4) 6-3 after four hours and 19 minutes on Court Five.
- The Belgian will meet 18th seed Gael Monfils in the third round.
- Sixth seed Dominic Thiem of Austria recorded 40 winners on his way to a 6-4 6-4 4-6 7-5 victory over American Taylor Fritz in the second round.
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- Five-time champion Roger Federer survived a second consecutive five-set encounter, beating Russia’s Mikhail Youzhny 6-1 6-7(3) 4-6 6-4 6-2 to reach round three.
- The third-seeded Swiss will next face Spaniard Feliciano Lopez.
- American Shelby Rogers beat 25th-seeded Australian Daria Gavrilova 7-6(6) 4-6 7-6(5) in the second round after three hours and 31 minutes on Court 10, the longest women’s singles match in U.S. Open history.
- World number 53 Andrey Rublev has pulled off one of the upsets of the tournament, beating seventh seed Grigor Dimitrov 7-5 7-6(3) 6-3 in the second round.
- Dimitrov was one of the pre-tournament favourites after lifting the title in Cincinnati earlier this month.
- Argentine Juan Martin del Potro reached the third round with a 6-2 6-3 7-6(3) win over Spain’s Adrian Menendez-Maceiras.
- Del Potro, seeded 24th, claimed his only grand slam title at Flushing Meadows in 2009.
- World number one Karolina Pliskova came back from a set down to claim a 2-6 6-3 6-4 second-round victory over American Nicole Gibbs.
- Pliskova will meet China’s Zhang Shuai or Japan’s Risa Ozaki in the next round.
- Unseeded Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov beat 15th-seeded Tomas Berdych 3-6 6-1 7-6(5) 6-2 to seal a third round spot.
- The 28-year-old will face Serbian Viktor Troicki in the next round.
- 13 of the top men’s seeds have exited the competition in the first two rounds so far along with second seed Andy Murray, who pulled out before the start of the tournament due to a hip injury.
- World number four Elina Svitolina has progressed to the third round after beating Russian Evgeniya Rodina 6-4 6-4.
- The 22-year-old has reached the third round of the tournament for the third consecutive year as she targets a first grand slam title.
- 12th-seeded Latvian Jelena Ostapenko defeated Romania’s Sorana Cirstea 6-4 6-4 to book a spot in the third round.
- The 20-year-old French Open winner has progressed past the second round of the competition for the first time and will be targeting her second grand slam title of the year.
- Czech Republic’s 23rd-seed Barbora Strycova is knocked out after a 6-1 6-1 defeat by American Jennifer Brady, who books a spot in the third round during her debut campaign at Flushing Meadows.
- Strycova is the 15th seeded women’s player to exit the competition in the first two rounds.
- Fourth-seeded Ukrainian Elina Svitolina takes on Russia’s Evgeniya Rodina in their second round match at Arthur Ashe Stadium on day four, followed by world number one Karolina Pliskova’s game against American Nicole Gibbs.
- Men’s world number one Rafa Nadal and Swiss ace Roger Federer will play their second round matches against Japan’s Taro Daniel and Russia’s Mikhail Youzhny respectively at the main showcourt later on Thursday.
- French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko kicks off the action at Louis Armstrong stadium against Romania’s Sorana Cirstea.
- Czech Republic’s 23rd-seeded Barbora Strycova will play American Jennifer Brady at Grandstand stadium. (Compiled by Hardik Vyas, Aditi Prakash and Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Mark Heinrich, David Evans, Richard Balmforth, Neville Dalton)