US Open 2017

First-round jitters: Roger Federer stretched to five sets on his return to the US Open

The 36-year-old Swiss prevailed 4-6, 6-2, 6-1, 1-6, 6-4 against Frances Tiafoe.

Roger Federer survived a five-set battle to defeat American teenager Frances Tiafoe and reach the US Open second round on Tuesday, keeping his bid for a record sixth New York title alive.

The 36-year-old Swiss, chasing his third major of the year and 20th of his career, prevailed 4-6, 6-2, 6-1, 1-6, 6-4 to avoid losing in the first round of a Slam for the first time since the 2003 French Open.

The fast and furious duel under the roof of Arthur Ashe Stadium was one of only nine matches to be completed as torrential rain swept 55 matches off Tuesday’s schedule. At times, Federer also looked as if he was about to disappear with the deluge, struggling with a back injury as well as the all-out assault of Tiafoe, the big-hearted 19-year-old son of immigrants from Sierra Leone.

But the veteran survived to register his 79th win in New York and set-up a second round match-up with either Russia’s Mikhail Youzhny or Blaz Kavcic of Slovenia.

“It was more than a test. We enjoyed it out there, we kept fighting, trying and it was exciting,” said Federer, who finished with 17 aces, 41 winners and 56 unforced errors.

“I had a slow start. I was worried about the back injury. In the fifth set, it was a coin toss and it went my way tonight so I am very happy. I am feeling extremely well. This will give me great confidence,” added Federer, who missed the 2016 tournament with injury and was playing under the $150 million Ashe roof for the first time.

The back problem, which Federer suffered in losing the Montreal final to Alexander Zverev and ruled him out of the Cincinnati tournament, restricted his movement in the opening set. World No. 70 Tiafoe claimed it on the back of an uncharacteristic 18 unforced errors by the Australian Open and Wimbledon champion.

Federer swept through the next two sets before Tiafoe leveled by storming through a 24-minute fourth set. In the decider, Federer broke for 3-1 but wasted a match point as he served at 5-3 and was broken by the American. But Tiafoe’s nerve failed him in the 10th game and the match was over when he dumped an off-balance forehand into the net.

The win took Federer’s first-round record in New York to 17-0 while world number one Rafael Nadal, a two-time champion in New York, went to 13-0 after the French Open winner claimed a 7-6 (8/6), 6-2, 6-2 win over Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic.

Round-up of the day

The 31-year-old Spaniard was critical of the noise inside the Ashe stadium, which was amplified to distracting levels by the roof, which was closed for virtually the whole day.

“I understand it’s a show, but under the roof we need to be a little bit more strict about the noise. All the noise stays inside, and this is difficult,” said Nadal.

With play on the outside courts trimmed to a mere 90 minutes, it means 87 singles matches will be staged on Wednesday. Japan’s Naomi Osaka was one of just seven women to get through to the second round, aided by playing under the roof.

The world number 46, born in Japan to a Haitian father and Japanese mother, clinched a 6-3, 6-1 win over sixth seed Angelique Kerber, who became the first women’s defending champion to lose in the first round since Svetlana Kuznetsova in 2005.

Osaka, who surrendered a 5-1 final-set lead on the same court in losing to Madison Keys in the third round 12 months ago, fired 22 winners as Kerber went tumbling out of the world’s top 10 as well as the tournament.

“At 4-1, I was hoping I don’t do what I did last year,” said the 19-year-old Osaka, who admitted suffering a brief flashback to her tearful loss to Keys.

Kerber is the third top seed to go out in the first round after number two Simona Halep and seventh-seeded Johanna Konta lost on Monday.

World No. 1 one Karolina Pliskova, the runner-up in 2016, eased past Poland’s Magda Linette 6-2, 6-1 on the back of eight aces and 29 winners. French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko downed Spain’s Lara Arruaberrena 6-2, 1-6, 6-1 in a match relocated from Court 17 to Ashe.

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“My body instantly craves chai and samosa”

German expats talk about adapting to India, and the surprising similarities between the two cultures.

The cultural similarities between Germany and India are well known, especially with regards to the language. Linguists believe that Sanskrit and German share the same Indo-Germanic heritage of languages. A quick comparison indeed holds up theory - ratha in Sanskrit (chariot) is rad in German, aksha (axle) in Sanskrit is achse in German and so on. Germans have long held a fascination for Indology and Sanskrit. While Max Müller is still admired for his translation of ancient Indian scriptures, other German intellectuals such as Goethe, Herder and Schlegel were deeply influenced by Kalidasa. His poetry is said to have informed Goethe’s plays, and inspired Schlegel to eventually introduce formal Indology in Germany. Beyond the arts and academia, Indian influences even found their way into German fast food! Indians would recognise the famous German curry powder as a modification of the Indian masala mix. It’s most popular application is the currywurst - fried sausage covered in curried ketchup.

It is no wonder then that German travellers in India find a quite a lot in common between the two cultures, even today. Some, especially those who’ve settled here, even confess to Indian culture growing on them with time. Isabelle, like most travellers, first came to India to explore the country’s rich heritage. She returned the following year as an exchange student, and a couple of years later found herself working for an Indian consultancy firm. When asked what prompted her to stay on, Isabelle said, “I love the market dynamics here, working here is so much fun. Anywhere else would seem boring compared to India.” Having cofounded a company, she eventually realised her entrepreneurial dream here and now resides in Goa with her husband.

Isabelle says there are several aspects of life in India that remind her of home. “How we interact with our everyday life is similar in both Germany and India. Separate house slippers to wear at home, the celebration of food and festivals, the importance of friendship…” She feels Germany and India share the same spirit especially in terms of festivities. “We love food and we love celebrating food. There is an entire countdown to Christmas. Every day there is some dinner or get-together,” much like how Indians excitedly countdown to Navratri or Diwali. Franziska, who was born in India to German parents, adds that both the countries exhibit the same kind of passion for their favourite sport. “In India, they support cricket like anything while in Germany it would be football.”

Having lived in India for almost a decade, Isabelle has also noticed some broad similarities in the way children are brought up in the two countries. “We have a saying in South Germany ‘Schaffe Schaffe Hausle baue’ that loosely translates to ‘work, work, work and build a house’. I found that parents here have a similar outlook…to teach their children to work hard. They feel that they’ve fulfilled their duty only once the children have moved out or gotten married. Also, my mother never let me leave the house without a big breakfast. It’s the same here.” The importance given to the care of the family is one similarity that came up again and again in conversations with all German expats.

While most people wouldn’t draw parallels between German and Indian discipline (or lack thereof), Germans married to Indians have found a way to bridge the gap. Take for example, Ilka, who thinks that the famed differences of discipline between the two cultures actually works to her marital advantage. She sees the difference as Germans being highly planning-oriented; while Indians are more flexible in their approach. Ilka and her husband balance each other out in several ways. She says, like most Germans, she too tends to get stressed when her plans don’t work out, but her husband calms her down.

Consequently, Ilka feels India is “so full of life. The social life here is more happening; people smile at you, bond over food and are much more relaxed.” Isabelle, too, can attest to Indians’ friendliness. When asked about an Indian characteristic that makes her feel most at home, she quickly answers “humour.” “Whether it’s a taxi driver or someone I’m meeting professionally, I’ve learnt that it’s easy to lighten the mood here by just cracking a few jokes. Indians love to laugh,” she adds.

Indeed, these Germans-who-never-left as just diehard Indophiles are more Indian than you’d guess at first, having even developed some classic Indian skills with time. Ilka assures us that her husband can’t bargain as well as she does, and that she can even drape a saree on her own.

Isabelle, meanwhile, feels some amount of Indianness has seeped into her because “whenever its raining, my body instantly craves chai and samosa”.

Like the long-settled German expats in India, the German airline, Lufthansa, too has incorporated some quintessential aspects of Indian culture in its service. Recognising the centuries-old cultural affinity between the two countries, Lufthansa now provides a rich experience of Indian hospitality to all flyers on board its flights to and from India. You can expect a greeting of Namaste by an all-Indian crew, Indian food, and popular Indian in-flight entertainment options. And as the video shows, India’s culture and hospitality have been internalized by Lufthansa to the extent that they are More Indian Than You Think. To experience Lufthansa’s hospitality on your next trip abroad, click here.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Lufthansa as part of their More Indian Than You Think initiative and not by the Scroll editorial team.