US Open: Roger Federer scrapes past Mikhail Youzhny in five-set battle

Federer struggled in large parts of the match, looking rather flat, but came from two sets to one down to record his 17th win over Youzhny in as many meetings.

US Open: Roger Federer scrapes past Mikhail Youzhny in five-set battle
Federer maintained his perfect record in US Open second round matches (Getty/Matthew Stockman)
Roger Federer
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Mikhail Youzhny

Five-time US Open champion Roger Federer survived another huge scare at this year’s edition of the tournament, coming from two sets to one down to defeat fellow veteran Mikhail Youzhny in a tough battle on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Federer, the third seed in New York, was mightily impressive in the opening set and perhaps should have taken a two sets to love lead, though fell flat and was drawn into an almighty battle against Youzhny, who for large parts of the match was not playing like the world number 101 or someone who had a 0-16 head-to-head record against the Swiss. However, with the Russian starting to struggle physically towards the end of the match, Federer eventually pulled through and claimed a 6-1, 6-7(3), 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 victory in three hours and seven minutes.

Federer and Youzhny meet after their match (Getty/Matthew Stockman)
Federer and Youzhny meet after their match (Getty/Matthew Stockman)

It has undoubtedly been a tough start for Federer, who has faced two five-set matches in the first and second rounds in a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in his career, so he will likely be looking to improve in his third round clash, especially considering he hit a staggering 68 unforced errors today. He faces Feliciano Lopez next.

Federer battles through incredibly tough Youzhny test

After a very tough opening round match against Francis Tiafoe, many saw this match as a chance for Federer to record a much more comfortable victory. That didn’t prove to be the case, with Youzhny putting in an admirable effort but ultimately falling short.

The Swiss could not have got off to a better start, dictating play completely and racing to a 5-0 lead in the opening set. He had two points to seal a double bagel, and even though Youzhny managed to save both, the five-time champion had no difficulty in serving out the first set in just 26 minutes. Federer wobbled slightly at the start of the second set, with Youzhny breaking for a 2-0 lead, though three games in a row saw Federer a break up and seemingly in control once again.

Federer was forced into playing five sets for the second match in a row (Getty/Richard Heathcote)
Federer was forced into playing five sets for the second match in a row (Getty/Richard Heathcote)

However, despite losing his advantage, Youzhny continued to play much better than he had in the first set, and his continued consistency paid off as he broke when the Swiss served for a two-set lead. With Federer starting to look a little flat, Youzhny was able to move comfortably through the gears, and motored through the eventual tiebreak to even up proceedings. The Russian, twice a semifinalist at Flushing Meadows, continued to play at a much higher level than his opponent, breaking in the fifth game of the third set and consolidating for a 4-2 lead.

Federer looked slightly lost on court, making uncharacteristic errors and struggling on the backhand side, and failed to pressure Youzhny as he fell two sets to one down. However, with the pressure now well and truly on him, he started to strike the ball cleanly and broke Youzhny, eventually building a 4-1 lead with the Russian starting to show some signs of physical fatigue. Just as in the second set, the Swiss failed to serve out the set, though this time he had the advantage of still being a game away and broke to send the match to a decider.

Youzhny struggled physically towards the end after two strong sets (Getty/Matthew Stockman)
Youzhny struggled physically towards the end after two strong sets (Getty/Matthew Stockman)

Youzhny was now struggling, but survived an incredibly nasty case of cramp to stay on serve in the opening four games of the decider. However, by now Federer was no longer in the slump that had hit him in the second and third set, and eventually broke to build a 5-2 lead. Youzhny, still fighting hard, desperately fought to force Federer to serve for the victory, though a third match point proved too much to save as he was eventually beaten by the 19-time Grand Slam winner for the 17th time.