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World number one Roger Federer produced a stunning opening performance at the US Open last night, then said Novak Djokovic deserved to be the favourite for the title.
Five-times champion Federer ran through his full array of shot-making as he dismissed American Donald Young 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 to reach the second round.
Having won his 17th Grand Slam title with his victory at Wimbledon last month, Federer is many people’s pick to add a sixth US Open crown to his ever-growing resumé.
But the Swiss said the efforts of Serbia’s Djokovic in recent times gave him the edge.
“I still think Novak is the favourite for the title coming in here,” Federer said after his one hour, 34-minute victory under the lights.
“He’s the defending champion, he’s probably won more hard court titles than anyone in the last few years and he also beat me here in the last two years.”
Federer was untroubled by windy and humid conditions at Flushing Meadows as he made world number 81 Young look distinctly second-rate.
“Being back in New York as World No1, it’s crazy and I enjoy it,” Federer said. “It definitely brings out the best in me. The crowds are incredible.”
Olympic champion Andy Murray, who beat Federer for London gold, battled into the second round while defending women’s champion Samantha Stosur, top seed Victoria Azarenka and third seed Maria Sharapova cruised in their openers.
Three-time US Open champion Kim Clijsters stretched her US Open win streak to 22 matches while Czech fifth seed Petra Kvitova and Chinese ninth seed Li Na also advanced on a day where rain halted play for more than two hours.
Britain’s third-seeded Murray, still seeking his first Grand Slam title, struggled at times in dispatching Russia’s 73rd-ranked Alex Bogomolov 6-2, 6-4, 6-1.
Murray put a scare into his supporters by clutching his left leg after a point in the fifth game of the final set but blamed the problem on cramping after being pushed throughout the match, which lasted two hours and 15 minutes. “Just a little bit of cramping. I have to stay better hydrated for the next matches,” he said.
The match began with four breaks of serve. Murray connected on only 28 percent of first serves in the opening set.
“A six or seven out of 10,” Murray said. “I didn’t serve well at the beginning but I won in three sets against a tough player.”
Next up for Murray will be Croatia’s Ivan Dodig, who dispatched Japanese qualifier Hiroki Moriya 6-0, 6-1, 6-2.
Australian seventh-seed Stosur began her repeat bid with a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Croatia’s Petra Martic.
Stosur, seeking her first title since upsetting Serena Williams in last year’s US Open final, fired 10 aces to advance in 51 minutes. Stosur won the first 19 points of her match before a double fault ended her bid for a golden first set.
“You knew you were going to lose one at some point,” Stosur said. “It did pop into my head for a split second. Then I hit the double fault and it was erased.” – Reuters, Sapa-AFP