Angry Federer denies influencing US Open schedule after rout of Evans

‘I have heard this shit too often now. I’m sick and tired of it - that, apparently, I call the shots’

Roger Federer reacted angrily on Friday when it was suggested he had pressured the US Open to schedule his third-round match against Dan Evans at noon. The five-times champion won the contest in an hour and 20 minutes, the shortest completed match of the tournament.

“I have heard this shit too often now,” Federer said, in an uncharacteristic outburst. “I’m sick and tired of it – that apparently I call the shots.”

Evans, still heavy-legged from his rain-delayed four-set match against Lucas Pouille the previous day, left miffed that Federer, a renowned night owl at Flushing Meadows, had an obvious advantage.

The Birmingham player was reluctant to lay the blame for the unhelpful scheduling directly on Federer – who had completed his quick second-round match under the roof on the Arthur Ashe stadium on Wednesday, when rain washed out matches on the outside courts – but he was not happy when his new friend, rested and sharp, blew him off the court to win 6-2, 6-2, 6-1.


Evans and Federer bonded in Switzerland recently when he was invited to train with the 20-time Major champion for three days but that relationship may come under a little pressure now.

Evans, plainly exhausted despite the brevity of the match, said when it was put to him that Federer’s team might have asked for a daytime match: “If that is the case, it’s tough on me, isn’t it? But that wouldn’t be the first time the higher-ranked player has had pull, so to speak. Also, the tournament obviously would rather Roger be going through that match than me. So it’s understandable, yeah.”

He wondered if there was a 24-hour rule in place to help players recover in time for their next match. “I actually asked the ATP guy and that wasn’t the case. I don’t know. It would have been nice to be second or in a night match. I’m not sure who plays Novak [Djokovic, in the second night match], but someone’s going to get the short straw, and it was me.”

Asked if he had requested a later start, he smiled. “Do you think a guy with my ranking [58] has any say in that? There are probably about four people in this tournament who have a say when they play. Maybe three. But it was an honour to play on Ashe. It’s an amazing court. But it was tough. I could feel from the get-go that I was a bit slow.

“Him being totally fresh and me battling yesterday – I didn’t get out of here until going on 6pm – just complete polar opposites, isn’t it? Trying to beat him feeling tired, stiff, playing four sets yesterday, it’s near on impossible. He played pretty much no-error tennis.”

Federer, normally the epitome of politeness, was close to losing his temper but did not wholly deny the suggestion that influence was brought to bear. “I don’t remember that I asked for something. It’s maybe nice to be out of the sun, as well. I don’t know. But I definitely didn’t do it intentionally. I don’t even know if the team asked for day. I knew there were questions to have a preference.

“But that doesn’t mean, like, ‘Roger asks, Roger gets’. Just remember that. Because I have heard this shit too often now. I'm sick and tired of it – that, apparently, I call the shots. The tournament and the TV stations do. We can give our opinion. That’s what we do. But I’m still going to walk out there, even if they schedule me at four in the morning.”

He conceded the timing was not ideal for Evans, whom he likes and admires as a player. “It was always going to be a competitive advantage for me,” he admitted. “But I have been there. I know what you’re talking about. You could definitely argue that the scheduling was not in his favour. It’s not fair for me to play my match under the roof, get it done, sit back, relax the next day while he’s battling out a three-hour match against Pouille. The problem already starts there.

“That’s tennis. That’s entertainment, and the show must go on. I’ve lost matches this way. I’ve won some this time. Luck was on my side. There you have it. I understand if Danny is a little bit frustrated.”

The match was a predictable anti-climax, given that Federer hit an irresistible streak of form at the very moment Evans found the task beyond him. Federer’s serving was phenomenal, Evans’s dire. And that underpinned nearly every exchange. As Evans said: “I think he won 92 per cent of his first serves. And that’s not good for me. I just couldn’t get in his games. Getting up on my serve, he returned well when I did get my serve in [51 per cent of the time, 41 per cent on second serve].”

Federer did not drop a point on his own serve in the second set, by which time the match, which had started brightly, had ceased to be a contest. There was a hush over the huge stadium as the crowd were in look-away mode, perhaps feeling as sorry for Evans as they were delighted for Federer. – Guardian