New York: Roger Federer made a narrow escape in a tense five-set thriller Tuesday, sorting out worries about a back injury and poor preparation to reach the second round of the US Open.
The 19-time Grand Slam champion outlasted 70th-ranked US 19-year-old Frances Tiafoe 4-6, 6-2, 6-1, 1-6, 6-4 in a shockingly tough battle that boosted his hopes of a deep run on the New York hardcourts.
"I think this is going to give me a lot of confidence," Federer said. "It's important to go through all of these emotional roller coasters early. That pressure is not fun but it's what you have to go through."
The match was Federer's first since losing the Montreal final to Alexander Zverev nearly three weeks ago. He withdrew from Cincinnati with a sore back the following week.
Third seed Federer will next meet either Russia's Mikhail Youzhny, who is 0-16 against him, or Slovenia's Blaz Kavcic, 0-1 against Federer, as the Swiss chases a record sixth US Open crown.
The 36-year-old, who won this year's Wimbledon and Australian Open crowns, took the US Open titles from 2004-2008.