When Roger Federer is serving well and his forehand clicks, he is as irresistible now at 32 as he ever was in his glory years.
He showed that last week in Cincinnati when he gave Rafael Nadal one of his few serious frights since the one the Spaniard suffered at Wimbledon and, apart from briefly suffering through impatience towards the end, he showed it on day two of the US Open against a markedly lesser opponent, the 62nd-ranked Grega Zemlja.
The Slovenian did well to last an hour and 33 minutes with the Swiss on the main Arthur Ashe stadium, in a match held over from a rain-hit Monday evening. Federer, desperate to make a point with those critics who have written him off as a major contender since his recent fall to No7 in the world, was superb in winning 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 to remain on track for a 32nd encounter with Nadal in the quarter-finals. He will be comforted by his impressive stats: 85% of points won on his first serve, with 12 aces, backed up by 35 clean winners, the last of them a forehand volley to wrap it up.
Federer, who has won this title five times, rushed through the first set in under half an hour, the first four games whizzing by in 11 minutes. The set had gone before most fans had tried the popcorn. Ditto in the second … and then a break for Zemlja in the eighth game of the third to level, briefly.
For Jerzy Janowicz, his first match also went by in a blur – and defeat. The Pole rose dramatically from the sort of obscure backwaters that Dan Evans has been treading to take a set off Andy Murray in the 2013 Wimbledon semi-finals but on Tuesday lost in three sets to the Argentinian qualifier Máximo González.
It was the second shock of the tournament, not quite as big as Evans's first-day win over 11th seed Kei Nishikori but unexpected nonetheless. Janowicz, seeded 14, hit 53 unforced errors, an appalling statistic in a match lasting two-and-a-quarter hours, perhaps explained by the back trouble he was having. González was solid in the 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 win.
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