By EDDIE PELLS / The Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — Roger Federer will stroll into the third round of the U.S. Open.
Kei Nishikori — he might crawl.
Second-seeded Federer breezed through his match at steamy Flushing Meadows on Thursday, defeating Germany’s Andreas Beck 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 in Arthur Ashe Stadium — a match that ended simultaneously with Nishikori’s upset win over No. 11 Marin Cilic over on Court 13.
But they didn’t start at the same time.
Federer needed 1 hour, 41 minutes, while Nishikori’s win in the 95-degree weather was a strength-sapping, cramp-inducing, injury break-filled marathon that took one minute short of five hours.
“I’m pretty tired, of course,” Nishikori said. “I was cramping from the second set. But I kept fighting, fighting.”
Question now is, how fast can he recover? This is his fifth match at Flushing Meadows — a span that began not this week, but last, when he won three times to make it into the main draw from qualifying.
Nishikori is trying to duplicate his run from two years ago when he became the first Japanese man to reach the fourth round at the U.S. Open since 1937.
Federer, meanwhile, is trying to make his seventh straight U.S. Open final. Keeping things quick and easy during the first week has been key to all that success and against Beck, he stayed with the plan.
The five-time champion served 15 aces, hit 29 winners and won dozens of short, easy points for his second straight easy match this week.
“It’s the perfect start, sure,” Federer said. “I played Monday, had two days off. I had another easy one physically today, and here I am in the third round feeling like I’m completely in the tournament.”
Federer wasn’t the only one to breeze. Before his match, Caroline Wozniacki, the top seed on the women’s side, put a 6-0, 6-0 thumping on Chang Kai-chen of Taiwan.
“I’ve been playing really good tennis,” said Wozniacki, who has lost a total of two games in two matches.
No. 4 seed Jelena Jankovic defeated Mirjana Lucic 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 for her second straight three-set victory. No. 7 Vera Zvonareva, No. 11 Svetlana Kuznetsova and No. 15 Yanina Wickmayer also advanced.
On the men’s side, No. 6 Nikolay Davydenko of Russia lost 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 to Richard Gasquet of France. Davydenko, who broke his wrist earlier this year and is still rounding into form, called the loss inexplicable.
“I don’t know if it’s the problems with my wrist, or the problem with my head,” he said.
Gasquet is part of a good week for his country, which sent 12 players into the second round — a record for the French at the U.S. Open.
American Mardy Fish enjoyed a straight-set victory, though the biggest news for the Americans came from 18-year-old Trice Capra, who is making a run at becoming this year’s Melanie Oudin.
The day after Oudin, the sensation of last year’s U.S. Open, was quietly ousted, Capra pulled off a second-round upset over 18th-seeded Aravane Rezai of France. Capra, a wild-card entry ranked 371st, is the youngest player left in the women’s field and the lowest-ranked.
“I think she’s pushed all of the Americans to do better,” Capra said of Oudin. “I mean, for sure, I talk to Melanie a lot, and I will for sure ask anything about Maria Sharapova.”
Sharapova would be next for Capra if the Russian gets past her match later Thursday against Iveta Benesova.
Also playing Thursday night — No. 3 seed Novak Djokovic.