Roger Federer on Wednesday survived a first-round scare as he rallied from a set down to edge Frances Tiafoe 4-6, 6-2, 6-1, 1-6, 6-4 in a five-set thriller at the U.S. Open.
The 19-year-old American Tiafoe enjoyed an almost-perfect match at his home Grand Slam, in the world’s biggest tennis arena, Arthur Ashe Stadium.
He gave his all and matched against one of his childhood idols, Federer, shot for shot.
However, it had to end with defeat for Tiafoe after 2 hours and 37 thrilling minutes, as Federer survived in his quest for an unprecedented 20th major title, 4-6, 6-2, 6-1, 1-6, 6-4.
Tiafoe jumped out to a 2-0 lead against the five-time US Open champion and stayed ahead to take the first set.
The Maryland native served out the set to love as he bullied Federer, pushing the Swiss from side to side with his forehand.
It was reminiscent of their lone meeting from earlier this year at the Miami Masters, when Tiafoe challenged the decorated vet with power in a tight 7-6, 6-3 Federer win.
But Federer eventually settled his game, taking the second and third sets.
Tiafoe raged back with a 24-minute 6-1 fourth set to level the match, but couldn’t consistently out muscle Federer as the Swiss broke Tiafoe to close out the match.
The 36-year-old improved to 17-0 in first-round action in New York and has still not lost a first-round match at a Grand Slam since 2003 Roland Garros, when he fell to Peru’s Luis Horna.
It was Federer’s first match in New York since 2015, after he missed last year’s US Open because of his knee injury.
The Swiss star who has never lost before the third round at the US Open will now look to continue that streak when he meets Slovakia’s Blaz Kavcic or Russian Mikhail Youzhny in the second round.