There is seldom a dull moment in the evening matches at the U.S. Open tennis tournament.
Tuesday was no exception. It was time for Roger Federer to get back to work, and for the occasion, he brought along a friend, some guy named Michael Jordan. Actually, he had only met Jordan Monday.
"He was my hero of all sports," Federer said later, indicating that a legend in his own right can still get goose-bumpy meeting another legend.
Jordan sat in Federer's box and Federer wore new shoes that are a brand collaboration with Jordan. Their meeting was obviously a forced marriage by Nike, but both seemed to be enjoying it.
During the third set, an overwhelmed and dazzled opponent, Marinko Matosevic of Australia, stopped and pointed at Jordan and said something about wanting to be like Mike.
Oh yes, they also played tennis. Federer won, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (4), and made his first official step in his pursuit of a sixth U.S. Open title and an 18th major championship.
Much has been made of his turning 33 earlier this month. He has answered by establishing the best record on tour so far this year at 50-9. Also the best on hard courts, 33-5.
The 29-year-old Matosevic spent much of the night looking toward his friend's box in amazement, as Federer stroked shot after shot past him, around him and even over him.
It really was never going to be a fair fight. Matosevic hadn't won a match in a Grand Slam tournament until the French Open this year. He had lost in his first 12 tries.
Federer, on the other hand, is playing his record 60th consecutive major, and holds Grand Slam records with 17 titles, 23 consecutive semifinals (2004-10) and 10 straight finals (2005-07).
Federer had 41 winners and 10 aces in Tuesday's match, and his only less-than-favorable statistic was three for 14 in break-point conversions.
That was just incidental stuff on yet another night of celebrity at the U.S. Open.
"I'm so glad Michael came into the world of tennis," Federer said, "and to come and watch me was special."
Federer said he loved to play basketball, but that, while his jump shot looked good, "the results aren't always the best."
In the late night match, before the evening sellout crowd of 23,771, top-seeded Serena Williams ran through 103rd-ranked Taylor Townsend of Washington, D.C. It took 55 minutes and the score was 6-3, 6-1.
Williams' U.S. Open record — she has won five titles here — went to 73-9 and she said afterward she liked playing at this major so much, "I never want to stop."
Progress for U.S. men
Two U.S. male players, in a group oft-criticized as underachievers, made their way through the first round.
The best of them, 15th-ranked John Isner, got through a competitive 7-6 (5), 6-2, 7-6 (2) win over UCLA's Marcos Giron, last year's NCAA champion, who turned pro in July with a year of college eligibility left.
Sam Querrey, No. 57, fought through a long five-setter on a hot day, beating Maximo Gonzalez of Argentina, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.
Querrey may have been almost as quick in the interview room as he was on the court. He was asked how he felt about the growth of tennis in the United States.
"Is it growing?" he said.
Then he was asked about players running marathons and getting Subway endorsement deals.
"I like Quiznos," he said.