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Federer survives early scare to keep US Open dream alive

 

By Eleanor Crooks

Roger Federer overcame another sluggish start to cruise into the third round of the US Open.

The five-time Flushing Meadows champion dropped the first set for the second successive match but overcame World No.99 Damir Dzumhur in four.

Federer, who lost the opening set to Indian qualifier Sumit Nagal in the first round, was broken in his first service game thanks to a wayward volley and a loose forehand into the net.

Dzumhur, of Bosnia, then secured an unlikely double break to take a 4-0 lead on his way to clinching the first set.

The drama almost turned into a crisis as Federer faced a break point in the second, but he survived a long, tense rally to come out unscathed.

From then on the 20-time grand slam champion took control, levelling the match courtesy of a couple of Dzumhur double faults.

Dzumhur gave Federer few more problems and the 38-year-old wrapped up a 3-6 6-2 6-3 6-4 win in two hours and 22 minutes.

"I buckled down and told myself to stay tough and hang with him," said Federer.

"That will help my confidence for the next match."

Three-time champion Rafael Nadal opened his campaign with a dominant win as Australian opponent John Millman could not replicate last year's shock win over Federer.

Nadal's physical state is always a concern but the Spaniard looked sharp in a 6-3 6-2 6-2 victory.

Seventh seed Kei Nishikori beat American Bradley Klahn 6-2 4-6 6-3 7-5 on Louis Armstrong court.

The 29-year-old from Japan was 5-1 up in the fourth set and had four match points before eventually overcoming the World No.108.

The 2014 finalist eased into a one-set lead and was 4-2 up in the second before Klahn fought back to level, however Nishikori reasserted control to secure victory.

Elsewhere, Croatian 12th seed Borna Coric withdrew from the competition with a lower back strain before he was due to play Bulgarian former World No.3 Grigor Dimitrov.

Meanwhile, Karolina Pliskova is through to the third round after a straight-set win over Mariam Bolkvadze under the Arthur Ashe Stadium roof.

The 27-year-old third seed dominated to win 6-1 6-4 against Georgian Bolkvadze, ranked 202 in the world.

Czech Pliskova, the 2016 finalist at Flushing Meadows, hit nine aces in 66 minutes to maintain her bid to regain the World No.1 ranking.

Fifth seed Elina Svitolina saw five match-points saved by Venus Williams in an epic 17-minute ninth game of the second set before eventually overcoming the two-time champion 6-4 6-4 and book her spot in the third round.

• Nick Kyrgios is being investigated by the ATP after branding the governing body "pretty corrupt" following his first-round win at the US Open.

Kyrgios was quizzed about the hefty fine of nearly £100,000 he was handed following his behaviour at the Cincinnati Masters earlier this month.

The volatile Australian smashed two rackets and was abusive towards umpire Fergus Murphy during his defeat by Karen Khachanov.

He told reporters at Flushing Meadows: "ATP's pretty corrupt anyway, so I'm not fussed about it at all."

The 24-year-old could now face a further fine or possibly a suspension. An ATP statement read: "The comments made by Nick Kyrgios will be assessed under the player major offence provision under ATP Rules."

Kyrgios, who beat American Steve Johnson in straight sets to reach the second round in New York, later sought to clarify his comments.

In a statement on Twitter, he wrote: "It was not the correct choice of words and my point and intention was to address what I see as double standards rather than corruption.

"I know my behaviour has at times been controversial and that has landed me in trouble, which at times is granted and valid but my issue is around others whether gaining the same, less of more media attention doing the same or similar behaviour and not being sanctioned."

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