Roger Federer needn't have worried about U.S. Open opener

Roger Federer took Center Court at the U.S. Open tennis tournament here Tuesday, admitting he had the apprehensions of a newcomer.

Which he clearly is not.

This was Federer's 64th consecutive appearance in a Grand Slam event and his 16th straight U.S. Open. He has won here five times and is seeded second, behind Novak Djokovic.

In his most recent tournament, he beat No. 1 Djokovic in the final in Cincinnati, collecting the 87th title of his career.

Still, Federer had had trouble in the past with his first-round opponent, Argentina's Leonardo Mayer. They played once, last year in Shanghai, and Federer struggled to win in three sets, needing to save five match points to do so.

So, when Federer admitted after his 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 romp on the Arthur Ashe Stadium court — "I actually wasn't so confident yesterday and today. I just felt like maybe this could be one of those matches I just couldn't see coming" — it was understandable.

Still, his recent run has made him a solid choice, and surely a sentimental one, to add this title to his record 17 previous majors.

"Now, I'm very relaxed after this match," Federer said.

On the women's side, the No. 2 player, Romania's Simona Halep, was a bit more convoluted in her post-match assessment. She won easily when Marina Erakovic of New Zealand retired with an injury at 2-6, 0-3.

"I came here very confident," Halep said, "because I feel the game … but I still have no expectations."

The expectation of the draw is that she will meet Serena Williams in the final, as Williams goes for her calendar-year Grand Slam.

There were few expectations for U.S. player Donald Young, who has gone from being a young hopeful to, at age 26, a journeyman-in-waiting for a career run. He might have started one Tuesday.

Facing 11th-seeded Gilles Simon of France, on a hot day that did not encourage marathon tennis, Young rallied from two sets and 0-3 down to post a stunner, 2-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.

He got new life when Simon double-faulted three times in one game in the third set. From there, Young never looked back.

He said the U.S. crowd carried him through.

"I give all the credit to them," he said. "Without those guys — if I were in France or somewhere else — I'm pretty sure I would have lost that match.

"To look at those people and they keep giving you energy. You can't let them down."

Young said that, at 0-3 of the third set, he decided, if he was going out, he was going out swinging.

"I was going out, giving him a battle and making him earn it," Young said.

Former champion, Lleyton Hewitt, who is pretty much playing a last-hurrah season of his career, got a break when Aleksandr Nedovyesov of Kazakhstan retired. Hewitt had a 6-0, 7-6 (2), 1-0 lead at the time.

Australia's Hewitt, 34, won the U.S. Open in 2001 and Wimbledon the next year and numbered that U.S. Open final among his greatest moments, a final in which he beat Pete Sampras.

"I felt invincible in the semifinals and final that year," Hewitt said.

No. 5 Stan Wawrinka, this year's French Open champion, got through the first round with a 7-5, 6-4, 7-6 (6) victory over Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain.

The 6-foot-11 Croatian, Ivo Karlovic, out-aced his opponent, 21-1, and beat Federico Delbonis of Argentina, 6-3, 7-5, 7-5. No. 6 Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic beat U.S. wild-card player Bjorn Fratangelo, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4, and ever-present U.S. hope John Isner, seeded 13th, started well with a 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Malek Jaziri of Tunisia.

Danish star Caroline Wozniacki, twice a finalist here and now a part-time resident of New York, beat this year's NCAA champion, Jamie Loeb of North Carolina, 6-2, 6-0. Loeb has just turned pro and was playing as a wild card.

This year's Wimbledon finalist, Garbine Muguruza of Spain, seeded No. 9, beat Carina Witthoeft of Germany, 6-2, 6-4, and two-time major champion Victoria Azarenka of Belarus took out Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic, 6-1, 6-2.

Sixth-seeded Lucie Safarova, also of the Czech Republic and last year's French Open finalist, was upset by Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine, 6-4, 6-1. Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic upset Swiss No. 14 Timea Bacsinszky, 7-5, 6-0.

Twitter: @DwyreLATimes

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