Failing to convince: Nadal-Federer U.S. Open showdown just about alive

To take an analogy out of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s never-ending quote book, Roger Federer is like a fellow ‘fine wine’ of tennis. The Swiss man looked more like a 21-year-old at Wimbledon this summer, rather than a 36-year-old, as the tennis legend won SW19 at a canter without dropping a set.

Such was the Swiss’ dominance, many tipped the 19-time Grand Slam winner to be favourite for the US Open; he’s already won it five times. Withdrawals from Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic gave RF fans further encouragement that their man could clock an unthinkable 20 Grand Slam titles.

However, so far this tournament, the Swiss man has failed to replicate such summer form, and has now gone the distance in both his opening two-round victories at Flushing Meadows:

More concerningly for Federer, the five-set victory over Mikhail Youznhy was against a fellow veteran with Youznhy at 35, and also a player on the circuit Federer has beaten 16 times over his career:

“I feel quite warmed up by now, I haven’t played a lot of guys with cramps in the past ten years. It’s hard to watch and I was feeling a bit for him.’

This wasn’t about the back, but I may be more tired than usual.”

— Roger Federer

Both men looked all of the 71 years between them, as the pair slugged it out on the Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Elsewhere, Rafa Nadal looked slightly less labourish in his four-set victory over Japan’s,  Taro Daniel. The Spaniard still lost the first set and admitted if he was going to take his third crown at FLushing Meadows he would need to drastically improve on this performance:

“It’s a very important victory. It’s true I didn’t play very well but I’m through to the next round.

I need to improve a lot of things but I am here to try to improve every day. I’m going to work tomorrow to find better feelings and I really believe I’m going to do it much better.”

— Rafa Nadal

So, two favourites for the tournament are through to the third-round, but both have failed to look convincing in victory. The pair could still meet in the semi-final, but Federer’s age and back issues could mean the Swiss legend falls short at the business end of the tournament.

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