Roger Federer escaped again by the skin of his teeth, and this win came assisted by a muscle cramp that Mikhail Youzhny suffered in the fourth set. Roger, as in the first round against Tiafoe on Tuesday, played a sloppy and error filled tennis, which came peppered with some spectacular shot-making.

Mikhail Youzhny's strong backhand

However, it was Mikhail Youzhny’s consistent and powerful hitting which was truly the find of the match.

Mikhail has always had that powerful single handed backhand and a good enough serve and forehand to beat anyone on his day but those days were far and few in the past. He has a 490-396 win-loss record as a professional player in the ATP and has won 10 titles, with no slams, in the 17 years of his professional career.

Roger takes care of business in the first set

Roger Federer started the match with a forehand winner and immediately moved into his aggressive avatar with an ace and a service winner in the very first game.

The quality of tennis played by Roger was crisp and purposeful, and Mikhail could not win a game until the 5th game of the set. Roger had thirteen winners, and only seven unforced errors in the set. He took care of the break-point opportunities and converted 2 of 5. His first serve percentage was a healthy 71%, and he won 35 of the 56 points played in the set.

Youzhny finds his game while Federer loses the plot

And then out of nowhere in the second set Youzhny picked up his level and started making many of those shots that he was missing in the first.

After being broken in his very first service game, Roger broke Mikhail twice in a row and then lost that advantage by being broken in the ninth game for 5-4 again. Roger, for some unknown reason, began spraying his ground shots especially on the backhand side and ran up his unforced errors count to 20 in the second set alone. Roger's first serve percentage also dropped to 50% from 71% in the first set, and the set was eventually decided by a tiebreaker that Roger lost because of too many errors from him and some inspired tennis from Youzhny.

Not much changed for Roger in the third set and he ran up his unforced error count to 17. His first serve percentage increased to 59% from 50% in the second set. Youzhny earned a break in the fifth game of the set and never relinquished the one game advantage to win the set 6-4.

Roger recovers partly due to Youzhny’s muscle cramps

Roger had no options but to pick up the level of his play in the fourth set, and, like so many times in the past, he found the energy and focus on earning himself an early break in the fourth game to lead 3-1 in the set.

Mikhail’s pain due to the muscle cramps was quite visible and the no treatment policy, of the tournament, for such muscle pains did not help Youzhny’s case.

Playing through the pain and discomfort, Youzhny was able to win back the break for 4-5 in the ninth game of the set. However, he then went on to lose his own service game, and the set, immediately after that. Roger for his part had managed to reduce his unforced error count to 11 and increase his first serve percentage to 65% in the fourth set.

The fifth set was a foregone conclusion, and Federer did his part by keeping the pressure up with 15 winners and 78% first serve percentage. Roger went on to win the set 6-2 and the match 3-2.

Roger, the escape artist

Youzhny’s muscle cramps in the fourth validated how fit Roger is at 36 to win back-to-back 5 set matches. Youzhny played at an insanely high level which took a physical toll on him, and his muscles were unable to cope with the grueling demands of the level required of him to stay in the match with Roger.

Roger, the escape artist, for the second time this week turned, what appeared to be, a losing match into a stepping stone to progress to the third round at the US Open 2017.

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