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Roger Federer put on a show in front of Michael Jordan to reach the second round of the US Open. Federer tweeted a picture with the former basketball great and Jordan was in the Swiss star’s box as he opened his campaign at Flushing Meadows with a 6-3 6-4 7-6 (7/4) win over Marinko Matosevic.
Australian Matosevic is a feisty competitor but it was not long before he was being forced to admire Federer’s shots.
Federer was really turning on the style by this point, and a ‘tweener’ shot between his legs that hit Matosevic had Jordan in stitches. When Federer broke serve again in the seventh game of the third set, it appeared the end was nigh, and Matosevic tried to lighten his darkening mood by engaging with Jordan, pointing at him and saying, ‘I just want to be like Mike’.
Federer had only faced two break points in the match, saving both of them, but an unexpected lapse allowed his opponent to hit back.
When Federer trailed 3-1 in the tie-break, a fourth set looked like it might be on the cards, but the second seed only lost one more point and finished off the victory with an emphatic smash – Jordan no doubt approving of the air he got.
Federer, who plays Matosevic’s countryman Sam Groth in the second round, said: “Marinko has got a big game, I was never quite sure what to expect. I’m happy I came through. It was a bit more difficult than I thought it would be in the third set when I had a break. But it’s always good to win tie-breaks.”
Meanwhile, Serena Williams began her quest for a third straight US Open title with a convincing win over American teenager Taylor Townsend. Williams described 18-year-old Townsend as the future of tennis ahead of the meeting but showed she is still very much the present in a 6-3, 6-1 victory.
The 32-year-old said: “I just come out and play. This was the first slam I won and I love to come back. I never want to stop.
“Taylor’s incredibly talented. She’s such a great person, I love her and I love that there’s so many great Americans. We have so much to look forward to.”
Agnieszka Radwanska’s US Open woes continued yesterday (Wednesday) as China’s Peng Shuai toppled the fourth seed Pole 6-3, 6-4 to reach the third round.
Radwanska, a former Wimbledon finalist who counts this year’s Australian Open among two other grand slam semi-final appearances, had hoped to make it past the fourth round at Flushing Meadows in her ninth attempt.
But the 39th-ranked Peng put paid to that, breaking Radwanska three times en route to the victory sealed with a backhand winner on her third match point – her 28th winner of the contest.
“She’s tough to play,” said Peng, who beat Radwanska at the same stage of the US Open in 2010. “I kept running, I fought. It was amazing. I will try to keep going.”
Peng’s best prior US Open showing was a round of 16 appearance in 2011.
Although Peng has failed to lift a trophy in six WTA finals appearances, she has tasted victory in doubles. In February she became the first Chinese player to reach No1 in the world when she went top of the doubles charts thanks to her success with Hsieh Su-Wei.
Radwanska came into the tournament in a positive frame of mind after winning the title in Montreal earlier this month but the Pole has never found the US Open a happy destination.
She said: “It always is disappointing (to go out), especially in the first week of a grand slam. But I think here it’s not really a new thing for me unfortunately.
“There is just something here that I can’t really pass those rounds. I have couple of years to try. Hopefully one day I will do it.”
Radwanska did not feel she gave a bad performance, saying: “Every game was pretty tight. But I think in the important moments she was just playing a little bit better.”
There was disappointment, too, for 21st seed Sloane Stephens, who from a set and 3-0 up against Johanna Larsson slumped to a 7-5, 4-6, 2-6 loss. There was a notable victory, meanwhile, for 17-year-old Belinda Bencic, who defeated 31st seed Kurumi Nara 6-4, 4-6, 6-1.
In other early action, French 22nd seed Alize Cornet dismissed Slovakia’s Daniela Hantuchova 6-3, 6-3 to reach the third round – matching her best US Open run.
Hantuchova had won six of their nine prior encounters, including at the 2012 Olympics. But Cornet controlled this one, breaking Hantuchova four times en route to the win in an hour and 22 minutes.
With top seed and two-time defending champion Serena Williams having a day off, world No2 Simona Halep was the top seed in action. She reached the third round with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Jana Cepelova.