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Roger Federer def Frances Tiafoe 46 62 61 16 64
If rain were still an issue in Arthur Ashe Stadium, Tuesday’s prime-time match with Frances Tiafoe and Roger Federer would be among the mandatory rain-delay replays. Not to sound trite, but it was a absolute thriller. Sure, Roger slapped 56 unforced errors to Tiafoe’s 49, but the caliber of winners and dramatic break opportunities kept fans foaming.
19-year-old Tiafoe launched the first salvo, breaking the 19-time Major champion right after the warm-up. Roger missed the Open last year. It was his first sortie under the roof. Fans were sure he’d sort it out, find his rhythm, and dispatch the World #60 with his standard elegance and efficiency. It never came, and Tiafoe didn’t waver. Frances held the rest of the way and found himself up 1-0 against the greatest of all time in his first match on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The old man strikes back
At 36-years-old, Roger Federer is 17-years older than Frances Tiafoe. Let that sink in. The reigning Australian Open and Wimbledon champion was not about to let some raw, Next-Gen talent derail his historic season. Sets two and three were vintage Federer; Tiafoe’s belief wavering with each implausible angle, each unexpected volley.
Tiafoe was clutch in the fourth
After three sets, it was step-up or become Roger’s 1,116th career conquest. Frances stepped-up. He broke Federer after the first and second sit-downs to force a decider.
The dramatic decider
In the 5th, Arthur Ashe Stadium erupted as Roger went up a break in game-4. Ten minutes later, down 2-5, Tiafoe saved match point, rifled two clutch winners past the 5-time champion, and broke Roger to keep the match alive. Electric. Drowning in adrenaline, the weight of the match like a Dodge truck on his deltoids, Tiafoe fell behind 15-40, 30-40, and finally capitulated.
Next to the Sharapova / Halep clash, Tuesday night was one of the most-memorable Flushing openers in recent history. Roger will continue his quest for a 6th US Open title, 20th Major win, and 3rd Grand Slam trophy of 2017 against Russia’s Mikhail Youzhny on Thursday.