Top seed Roger Federer faced American Donald Young in a much talked-about R1 match. Young was the promising junior who was once the no. 1 junior player in the world (for reference sake, Young is only nine months younger than Juan Martin del Potro — they are both from the ’88-’89 generation of tennis players, that also includes Marin Cilic). Since the junior days, Young has publicly sparred with the USTA, and had numerous coaching changes. Young also came into the USO with a recently broken losing streak — he had lost 17 matches in a row before finally notching a win over Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer at Winston-Salem last week.
Given the potential many see in Young, his R1 match-up with Federer seemed like a tantalizing one on the surface. Could Young make a big statement in front of a home crowd (even as the McEnroe brothers, so closely involved with the USTA, commentated the match and seemed to call attention to every perceived weakness in Young’s game?)
In the first set, Federer served at 85%. He began the match with a series of shanks and errors but eventually hit a strong FH that was more Federer-esque and broke the Young serve. He closed out the first set, 6-3.
Federer then broke early to go up 2*-1 in the second set. However, Young earned his first break point of the match and broke to get back on serve at 2-2, when Federer hit a FH out wide. Young started to play with a little more momentum after recouping the break, hitting a nice FH that kept Federer looking slightly hesitant behind the baseline.
However, Fed broke the Young serve again, to go up 3*-2. He was not at his best (as the top seeds need not be in early rounds). However, Federer resumed command of the match, with a speedy service game to hold at 15. He hit wrong-footing FHs after running Young side to side on the court.
Fed then went DTL on two consecutive points — the first on a smash from the baseline (it was as tricky as it sounds) and then a second that was a FH at full speed. He then forced Young into netting a volley, to take BP and go up 5*-2 in the second set. Young reached deuce when Federer served for the second set, but the top seed hit an unreturnable serve, to take the second set 6-2. Fed only served at 57% in the second set (to Young’s 70%)
The third set played like a more straightforward version of the second set. Federer broke early to go up 2*-1. He seemed to play conservatively against the wind (there were extremely humid conditions too). That did not stop him from hitting a crowd-pleasing point, a beautiful FHDTL to hold 4-2.
Young retaliated with a decent FH as well, which he managed to bring out for a winner to hold at 2*-4. However, his weaker BH is also evidenced during the point. Given how his opponent was Federer, it’s not too disheartening that he was wrong-footed and outplayed on many occasions during the match.
Federer reached MP at 40-30 5*-4, but he then hit a long FH that brought the game back to deuce. Federer responded with a sharply angled FH that Young misread, bringing another MP for Fed. Facing a second serve, Young showed his best play at match-point down, with a double-handed cross court angled BH. While impressive, it did not stop Federer from winning the match on an unreturnable serve.
Overall, Federer served quite well and his FHs were impressive, although his BH showed the occasional wobble. It was a lopsided match, although not nearly as lopsided as some may have imagined. It was a solid 1 hour and 34 minutes of play for Federer, who next faces Germany’s Bjorn Phau.