Reporting from New York — It was only a single shot in a match that had no moments of uncertainty for five-time U.S. Open champion Roger Federer.
It came from deep in the back of the court, when Federer was almost running into the wall; it was born partly of desperation but also partly of confidence, a forehand hit between his legs, across the court and skipping across the sideline, a winner past helpless Brian Dabul of Argentina.
The night session crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium roared and Federer offered a little bow and a sheepish smile. The 29-year-old wasn’t going to be tested by Dabul, who is ranked 96th in the world and who owns only a single Grand Slam tournament victory compared with Federer’s 204. The 204th was the 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 first-round U.S. Open win Monday.
“I don’t think I could do this again,” Federer said, even though he hit an almost identical shot here last year against Novak Djokovic.
Federer said that maybe the ‘tweener he knocked past Djokovic last year was more important because it came at a more crucial time, in a semifinal against a contender. “But in terms of difficulty,” he said, “maybe this one was harder.”