Roger Federer’s streak of reaching the third round of the U.S. Open remained alive Thursday when he swept through Frenchman Benoit Paire 7-5, 6-4, 6-4 at New York.
The Swiss star is now 18-for-18 in reaching the third round of the event. He delivered 27 winners while winning in 1 hour, 56 minutes.
Federer didn’t feel particularly sharp in the 90-degree heat but took advantage of Paire’s 47 unforced errors.
“I think it was a bit sort of up and down,” Federer, who had 39 unforced errors, told reporters afterward. “I think it’s always tricky against Benoit, because there’s a lot of tactics going on. Never quite the same point. Sometimes he plays very deep in the court, then he plays up in the court. That’s maybe why you draw errors out of each other rather than winners at the end.
“The match maybe doesn’t look as good. Plus he covers the court very well. Sometimes you have a tendency to overplay, as well. But overall, I’m happy. I think it was not a bad performance by any means by me. I can be pleased, so it’s all good.”
The five-time U.S. Open champion will face Australian Nick Kyrgios in the third round. The 30th-seeded Kyrgios was a 4-6, 7-6 (6), 6-3, 6-0 winner over Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert in his second-round match.
Kyrgios is well aware that he faces a tough task in trying to slay Federer on the big stage in New York.
“I definitely know that I won’t be the favorite, the crowd favorite here,” Kyrgios told reporters. “I go into that match with zero expectations. I do believe I can beat him. I have done it before. It’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m going to be looking forward to it. I can’t do anything differently. I’ve got to recover.”
Though Kyrgios is ready for the challenge, many will be tempted to look toward the quarterfinals for Federer, where a potential matchup against Novak Djokovic looms. The sixth-seeded Serbian bested American Tennys Sandgren 6-1, 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-2 in their later match.
The Wimbledon and Cincinnati champion made up for a large gap in aces (11-6 for Sandgren) and winners (44-31) by breaking his opponent seven times. Djokovic will next play 26th-seeded Frenchman Richard Gasquet, who cruised past Serbian Laslo Djere 6-3, 7-6 (5), 6-3.
“It’s a work in progress still. We are working daily on trying to perfect the game and put it together. Obviously (the) last couple months have been really, really good in terms of results,” Djokovic said. “That’s what’s exciting about this sport and about my game in general, is that I still feel there are certain elements in my game that need some betterment. That’s why you hit the practice courts daily and try to perfect the game.”
Djokovic is 24-22 in his career against Federer.
Fourth-seeded German Alexander Zverev reached the third round at the U.S. Open for the first time by posting a 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 win over lucky loser Nicolas Mahut of France.
The 21-year-old Zverev recorded 42 winners and converted all five break chances against Mahut.
“This was always the grand slam that I didn’t play my best ever. Not even that I lost, but just game-wise. Game-wise, I never felt comfortable here. Finally I do,” Zverev told reporters in reference to his previous three appearances. “I feel like I’m playing well. I feel like today, (Mahut) was a tough opponent. He had a few matches here already.”
Zverev faces another German in the third round in Philipp Kohlschreiber, who registered a 6-7 (1), 6-3, 6-2, 6-0 win over Australian Matthew Ebden.
Also advancing was seventh-seeded Croatian Marin Cilic, who beat Polish qualifier Hubert Hurkacz 6-2, 6-0, 6-0, and 10th-seeded Belgian David Goffin, who posted a 6-2, 6-7 (1), 6-3, 6-2 victory over Robin Haase of Netherlands.
Portugal’s Joao Sousa upended 12th-seeded Pablo Carreno Busta 4-6, 6-3, 5-7, 6-2, 2-0 when the Spaniard retired during the fifth set. In another upset, Australia’s John Millman notched a 6-1, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 victory over 14th-seeded Italian Fabio Fognini.
Also, No. 13 seed Diego Schwartzman of Argentina recorded a 6-2, 6-0, 5-7, 6-2 victory over Spain’s Jaume Munar; 17th-seeded Lucas Pouille of France knocked off Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-4, 6-3, and Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin produced a 7-6 (5), 6-2, 6-3 upset of 23rd-seeded Hyeon Chung of South Korea.
No. 21 seed Kei Nishikori of Japan won 6-2, 5-4 when Frenchman Gael Monfils retired in the second set.
—Field Level Media