Tennis: At this point in his career, Roger Federer recognizes the importance of a little extra work.
That’s why the owner of a record 17 Grand Slam titles, and the man who spent more weeks ranked No. 1 than any other, was out there on a U.S. Open practice court late Tuesday afternoon, putting in some training time shortly after finishing off a 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 victory over 62nd-ranked Grega Zemlja of Slovenia in the first round.
At 32 and holding his lowest ranking, No. 7, in more than a decade, and coming off a stunningly early exit at the previous major tournament – one of a series of newsworthy losses lately – Federer is OK with making some concessions. He insists his passion for tennis is still there.
“I’m in a good spot right now,” Federer said. “I want to enjoy it as long as it lasts.”
He made it sound, though, as if it isn’t as easy to enjoy things the way his results have been going.
Federer entered Tuesday 32-11, a .744 winning percentage that doesn’t sound too bad, until you consider his career mark at the start of this season was .816, and he’s had years where he went 81-4 (.953). and 92-5 (.948). He’s only won one tournament in 2013, which would be great for some guys, but Federer topped 10 titles three times, and hasn’t won fewer than three in any season since 2001.
As fan favorite Federer took the first step toward a possible quarterfinal meeting with nemesis Rafael Nadal, an unknown teen from the United States made a Grand Slam breakthrough Tuesday. Victoria Duval, a 17-year-old qualifier who is ranked 296th, pulled off quite an upset, eliminating 2011 U.S. Open winner Sam Stosur 5-7, 6-4, 6-4.
Other seeded women on the way out were No. 17 Dominika Cibulkova, No. 20 Nadia Petrova and No. 31 Klara Zakopalova.
No. 2 Victoria Azarenka, the 2012 U.S. Open runner-up and a two-time Australian Open winner, needed 10 minutes and six break points to take the first game against 99th-ranked Dinah Pfizenmaier, then dominated the rest of the way en route to a 6-0, 6-0 victory.
Her 65-minute match in Arthur Ashe Stadium came after top-seeded Novak Djokovic began his bid for a second U.S. Open title, and seventh major trophy overall, with nearly as swift and simple a result, beating 112th-ranked Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania 6-1, 6-2, 6-2.
“I played every point like it’s a match point,” said Djokovic, who recently added former top-10 player Wojtek Fibak as a coaching consultant.
Other straight-sets winners included No. 5 Tomas Berdych and No. 10 Milos Raonic. On a day that American men went 5-2, led by No. 13 John Isner and No. 26 Sam Querrey, a handful of seeded players made quick departures. No. 14 Jerzy Janowicz of Poland, a semifinalist at Wimbledon last month, was the most surprising to go, although he was treated by a trainer for a painful back during a 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 loss to 247th-ranked qualifier Maximo Gonzalez of Argentina.
Other losers included No. 15 Nicolas Almagro, No. 25 Grigor Dimitrov and No. 28 Juan Monaco.
Haas put deal together with Busch
Auto racing: Tony Stewart may be the front man of his race team but co-owner Gene Haas is still very much a player.
Haas made that perfectly clear Tuesday in taking full responsibility for hiring 2004 NASCAR champion Kurt Busch as Stewart-Haas Racing’s fourth driver.
Haas courted Busch while Stewart was out with a broken leg. Stewart learned of his plans and urged Haas to slow down, but Haas said he overruled Stewart and moved forward with an offer to Busch.
Busch accepted a multiyear deal to join SHR, which will double in size from two full-time cars just two years ago to four cars in 2014.
• Truex has fractured wrist: An MRI has confirmed that Martin Truex Jr. fractured his right wrist in a wreck during Saturday night’s race at Bristol.
Michael Waltrip Racing said that that Truex has a scaphoid fracture and sprain. He’s been fitted with a special cast that allows him to grip the steering wheel and he is expected to finish the season after being cleared by NASCAR.
Truex currently holds the first wild-card position with two races to go to set the 12-driver field for the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
Arrest warrant issued for Titus Young
Miscellany: A judge in Newport Beach, Calif., issued an arrest warrant for Titus Young after the former Detroit Lions wide receiver missed a fourth court hearing on an 11-count criminal case.
Young, 24, has failed to appear at several court hearings, including one on Aug. 6, when the judge ordered him to be in court Tuesday.
Young’s father has said his son started changing after sustaining a concussion early in his rookie year with the Lions in 2011.
Young, a second-round draft pick in 2011, was released by the team in February.
He has pleaded not guilty to four felonies and seven misdemeanors after being arrested outside a home in San Clemente, Calif., on May 10.
The arrest came after a string of erratic behavior that began five days earlier in neighboring Riverside County.
• Moreno wins fourth stage of Spanish Vuelta: In Fisterra, Spain, Daniel Moreno of Spain timed his final sprint perfectly to win the fourth stage of the Spanish Vuelta while Vincenzo Nibali of Italy overtook veteran American rider Christopher Horner to claim the overall leader’s jersey.
• Arsenal in Champions League for 16th straight year: Arsenal will play in the Champions League for a 16th consecutive season, and 10-man Schalke scraped into the group stage along with them.
With a 3-0 lead over Fenerbahce from the first leg, Aaron Ramsey scored twice at the Emirates Stadium to ensure Arsenal’s 2-0 victory and its advance 5-0 on total goals.
Schalke moved on despite U.S. midfielder Jermaine Jones being sent off.
The German club won 3-2 at PAOK Salonika of Greece and advanced 4-3.