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With Jokes Aside, Federer Ready To Get On With The Rest Of The 2019 U.S. OPEN

By Ricky Dimon

Nagal…. Nadal…. It was just too easy to make jokes non-stop for four straight days after the qualifiers were placed in the U.S. Open draw. I am guilty as charged. And so is every other member of the media–and every other tennis fan. Maybe even some players, too.

Even after Roger Federer finished off his surprisingly competitive 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 victory over qualifier Sumit Nadal during first-round action on Monday night, the name comparisons with Rafael Nadal continued.

“Did you think for a second it was Nadal?” ESPN commentator Brad Gilbert unsurprisingly asked Federer following the 38-year-old’s victory that required two hours and 30 minutes of play.

“No,” Federer stated simply, with a smile.

It was not as difficult as a typical Fedal match, to be sure, but Nagal did account himself extremely well. The 22-year-old Indian stole the first set from a break down and almost two hours later he had a chance to get back on serve in the fourth set with a 0-40 lead as Federer served for the match at 5-4. But the underdog could not convert and Federer finally reached the finish line.

“I guess maybe how he handled the moment,” the Swiss said when asked if anything surprised him about Nagal’s performance. “(It’s) never easy to come out and play your best. Even though it’s kind of what you live for, you dream about, playing on the big stage. So I think he did that very well.

“I think his game is based on being really consistent, moving well, moving the ball around well. Sort of very much a clay-courter. That’s also the surface he’s played basically the entire year almost. I think he knows what he can bring. That’s why I think he’s going to have a very solid career. But, of course, it’s not the game that comes out with the biggest surprises. It’s really consistent. I think he did it very well tonight.”

As for Federer’s game, will will likely have to raise his level if he wants to avoid another early-round loss like last year’s fourth-round exit at the hands of John Millman.

The world No. 3 compared his game to his 5 o’clock shadow as the jokes continued on court with Gilbert: “Rusty.”

Next up for Federer on Wednesday is Damir Dzumhur, while Lucas Pouille potentially awaits in the third round prior to a possible fourth-round meeting with familiar foe David Goffin. A rematch of the epic Wimbledon final against Novak Djokovic would come in the U.S. Open semifinals.

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

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