In the first round of the US Open 2002, Roger Federer defeated world no. 157 Jiri Vanek 6-1, 6-3 4-6, 7-5 in just over two hours, scoring only his second victory after s-Hertogenbosch in June. World no. 13 lost the ground completely in the last couple of months, suffering early losses at Roland Garros, Wimbledon, Toronto and Cincinnati and dealing with his first coach and friend Peter Carter's tragic death.
Despite the victory, the Swiss wasn't happy with the way he performed, mentioning lack of confidence and matches in his legs but hoping to raise his level in the following rounds. Federer suffered three breaks and converted seven out of 15 opportunities on the return, delivering a late break in the fourth set's closing stages to seal the deal and advance into the second round, scoring his first Major win since the Australian Open.
"The only thing that helps right now is to win a few matches because I haven't been winning at all lately. I'm missing the encounters, despite having a lot of practice in between. You get bored with practicing the whole time because you want to go out there and play matches and compete.
Roger Federer made a winning start at the US Open 2002.
That's missing a bit right now; I would love to get a few more of those here in New York; it would make me happier. I still don't feel great, but I have to be satisfied with how I advanced into the second round.
I don't see much positive out of this match as I didn't feel very well; it will get better, hopefully. That late break felt good; it does well for the confidence. We were going back and forth all the time. I tried to put more balls into play and go with safe shots, but that's not always good, especially if you miss break chances or get broken.
It's not easy to hit hard and hope it goes in. Also, my footwork is not right as it used to be; that's related to confidence. It's easier when you are winning; you are up a break, and you can relax a bit more on the return in the next games as well, trying some different things.
It's a different thing when you are down a break; you have to come back, and there's no time to try stuff. It's tougher on your mind when you are always down. Right now, I have to watch out for everybody, and I'm a bit careful, which is normal after a couple of bad months.
I hope it will be a good match against Michael Chang and that I can play well right from the start," Roger Federer said.