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Federer Still Looks Like Federer


Roger Federer plays Grega Zemlja at the U.S. Open on Tuesday.

Two days into the U.S. Open, it's shaping up as a lousy tournament for young stars looking to usurp the game's established greats.

A day after Rafael Nadal and the Williams sisters all won their first-round matches with ease, Roger Federer defeated Grega Zemlja in straight sets Tuesday while up-and-comers Jerzy Janowicz and Grigor Dimitrov lost.

Federer, the foremost member of the sport's old guard, entered the match with a No. 7 world ranking, his lowest since 2002. At age 32, he may well be in the twilight of his career. But the scene at Ashe Stadium was typical for the five-time Open champ, with fans snapping photos of him at every opportunity and Federer making quick work of an inferior opponent.

He received a raucous ovation both before and after his 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 win over Zemlja, whose strongest resistance was too little, too late. After Zemlja took a 5-4 lead in the third set, Federer won the next three games to close out the win. He'll face Carlos Berlocq in the second round.

Federer and Zemlja had been scheduled to play Monday night, but rain pushed back the match until late Tuesday afternoon.

"There wasn't much rhythm out there, but I was happy the way I played, you know, overall," Federer said. "I mean, it's a first round, after all. There was a bit of a breeze. Should have played at night. Played during the day. Overall, I'm pleased to be in the next round."

In an on-court television interview after the match, Federer was asked what advice he could offer to recreational players over the age of 30 on how to keep playing well as they age. "My advice?" Federer responded. "I think it's mostly to enjoy it."

Janowicz, the No. 14 seed, was the highest-ranked men's player to lose during the day session. He was upset by Maximo Gonzalez, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2, though his ailing back gave him as much trouble as his opponent.

Janowicz said he injured his lower back during a routine workout Saturday, which rendered him barely able to move in the days leading up to the match. "The day after it happened, I couldn't turn my body, I couldn't rotate my back, I couldn't sit," he said.

A pain-killing injection before the match helped Janowicz take the court, but the 22-year-old Wimbledon semifinalist was clearly limited by the injury. At one point, he even tried to serve underhanded. "My push," he said. "I wouldn't call it a serve."

The severity of the injury was unclear, but for the moment, it resulted in a missed opportunity for Janowicz, who was placed in the weakest quarter of the draw. "I was in really good shape," he said. "That's why I'm frickin' disappointed."

Dimitrov, the No. 25 seed, lost to Joao Sousa, 6-3, 3-6, 4-6, 7-5, 2-6. Milos Raonic, another rising star, bucked the early-tournament theme by defeating Thomas Fabbiano, 6-3, 7-6(6), 6-3. Raonic, a 22-year-old Canadian, will play Pablo Andujar in the second round.

Corrections & Amplifications
Roger Federer is playing a forehand in the photo accompanying this article. A previous version said he was serving.

Write to Brian Costa at

A version of this article appeared August 28, 2013, on page A24 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Thirtysomething and Still Playing Tennis? Federer's Got Some Advice.

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