NEW YORK, Aug 29 (Reuters) - Roger Federer was pushed to five sets in the opening round of the U.S. Open for the first time in 17 years before the Swiss third seed overcame American Frances Tiafoe 4-6 6-2 6-1 1-6 6-4, while Japanese teen Naomi Osaka stunned women’s champion Angelique Kerber 6-3 6-1 on a rain-hit Tuesday.
After his great rival and potential semi-final opponent Rafael Nadal had cruised into the second round with a 7-6(6) 6-2 6-2 win over Serbian Dusan Lajovic at Flushing Meadows, Federer was expected to advance with similar ease.
However, backed by a raucous home crowd that got louder under the roof at the Arthur Ashe stadium, teenager Tiafoe had other ideas and came close to producing one of the biggest upsets of the event.
Tiafoe took the first set in which Federer committed 18 unforced errors. The 19-times grand slam winner switched gears to take the next two, easing fears that the back injury that forced him out in Cincinnati two weeks ago was not acting up.
The American teen, who has lost the pair’s only previous meeting in Miami this year, was not done just yet and sprung to life to level the match at two sets apiece.
Federer, who turned 36 this month, was broken while serving for the match at 5-3, but relied on his experience to close out the contest in two hours and 37 minutes.
“This is why I come back to New York, to experience these emotions,” Federer said after the match.
Only nine matches were completed on the second day as heavy rain lashed the venue, forcing the organisers to postpone the remaining ties to Wednesday.
With a defeat to the hard-hitting Osaka, Kerber became the second defending women’s champion to lose in the first round after Svetlana Kuznetsova in 2005. The German has not won a title this year and has struggled in the majors.
Last year’s finalist and top seed Karolina Pliskova had no such trouble against Poland’s Magda Linette, scoring a 6-2 6-1 win, while Madison Keys trumped Belgian Elise Mertens 6-3 7-6(6).
Highlights from day two of the U.S. Open tennis championships on Tuesday (all times GMT):
- Swiss Roger Federer survives a scare before battling past American teenager Frances Tiafoe 4-6 6-2 6-1 1-6 6-4. It was the first time since his U.S. Open debut in 2000 that the third seed had been taken to five sets in his opener.
- Madison Keys beats Belgian Elise Mertens 6-3 7-6(6) in front of her home crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium
- The 15th seed will meet compatriot Ashley Kratzer or German Tatjana Maria in the second round.
Mats Point: Pliskova aggression will win a slam
Nadal takes first step towards Federer showdown
Women’s game in good shape despite Halep upset
Osaka just getting started after beating Kerber
Defending champion Kerber stunned by Osaka
Pliskova outclasses Linette to reach round two
U.S. Open order of play on Wednesday
- French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko recorded a 6-2 1-6 6-1 first-round victory over Spain’s Lara Arruabarrena.
- The first-round match was moved to Arthur Ashe Stadium from Court 17 after play on outer courts was cancelled due to rain.
- Latvian Ostapenko will meet Romania’s Sorana Cirstea in the next round.
- World number one Rafa Nadal beat Serbian Dusan Lajovic 7-6(6) 6-2 6-2 to reach the second round.
- Nadal improved his first round record at Flushing Meadows to 13-0.
- The top-seeded Spaniard will meet Japan’s Taro Daniel or American Tommy Paul in the next round.
- All outer-court matches, except Jelena Ostapenko v Lara Arruabarrena, have been cancelled due to rain as play continues under the roof at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
- French Open champion Ostapenko leads 6-2 1-6 3-1 against Spaniard Arruabarrena and the match could be completed on the centre court in the evening session.
- Japan’s Naomi Osaka beat last year’s champion Angelique Kerber 6-3 6-1 to reach the second round.
- Sixth seed Kerber is the second defending U.S. women’s champion to lose in the first round after Svetlana Kuznetsova in 2005.
- World number one and top seed Karolina Pliskova hit eight aces to help book a spot in the second round of the tournament with a 6-2 6-1 win over Poland’s Magda Linette.
- The 25-year-old was a finalist at Flushing Meadows last year and is looking to seal her first grand slam title this time around.
- Czech Republic’s Barbora Strycova, who is the 23rd seed at the tournament, also progressed to the second round with a 6-1 6-3 win over Japan’s Misaki Doi. (Compiled by Hardik Vyas and Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru; Editing by Ed Osmond, Peter Rutherford and John O‘Brien)