Federer edges Youzhny in 5 sets at US Open; Nadal needs 4

Federer after the hard-fought win played down concerns over his back injury. Thursday afternoon, with the Ashe Stadium roof open, it was Youzhny's turn to stretch Federer to the limit.

But the veteran survived to register his 79th win in NY and set-up a second round match-up with either Russia's Mikhail Youzhny or Blaz Kavcic of Slovenia. But while fans of Federer can give their nails a break after Tuesday's anxiety-inducing match, it's hard not to be concerned about Federer's form. Since Montreal, the focus has been more on the back, making sure I can play the tournament rather than being well-prepared.

After a wild Wednesday on the third day of the 2017 U.S. Open, Day Four will bring a close to the second round in singles while ushering in the start of the doubles draw at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows. I was maybe a bit anxious about my back issue but was eventually able to let go.

"Being honest, it (the noise) is a little bit too much", said Nadal, who won the 2010 and 2013 US Open crowns. I've done that hundreds of times. Honestly, if I had felt going into this tournament that my back was going to get worse every match, I probably wouldn't have played. Youzhny said he was not surprised to see Federer, the reigning Australian Open and Wimbledon champion, needing two five-setters to reach the third round.

"I was maybe a bit anxious with my back issue from a couple of weeks ago", said Federer, "but eventually I was able to let go". There was signs of rustiness as the five-time champion had to miss Cincinnati following a back injury and the Swiss legend conceded he did not have the ideal preparation in the lead-up to the US Open. "It went my way tonight so I'm very happy".

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Perhaps more importantly, Tiafoe played one of the best matches of his career, and managed to make Federer look overmatched for at least two of the five sets. "I think we both enjoyed ourselves out here tonight and you guys [the crowd] made it very special for us to keep fighting so I'm very happy with the match".

While Federer did drop that second set in a tiebreaker, he recovered from his slip-up in the fourth. Youzhny joked afterward that if any cramping led to a life-threatening situation, and he still was not able to get treatment because of the rules, "You then say 'bye-bye'".

At 1-all in the deciding set, Youzhny stumbled and collapsed to the court, grabbing at his right leg as he appeared to cramp up after whiffing on an attempted running swat at Federer's lob.

"I look at things differently now. When I was hitting the ball big, he wasn't really doing much except staying steady with me".


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