As draws go, this was a tough one. Someone needed to be the sacrificial lamb to Roger Federer. And when Devin Britton heard the news, he was surely less than thrilled.
“I didn’t really believe it at first,” said the 18 year-old from Mississippi. “Thought it was just a bad joke. No, and then started getting texts on my phone and realized it was true.”
To say Britton was overmatched is an understatement and it took just one hour and 28 minutes for the best player in the world to finish off his first round match, 6-1, 6-3, 7-5.
Yet, it wasn’t always a walk in the park. The first break of the match went to Britton.
“I was pretty excited after the break,” Britton said. “And I got broken ant Love. I think I lost 13 or 14 points after that. I was thinking, I’m up a break. This is awesome. Then it only lasted about 30 seconds.”
At least he has a sense of humor. Many players would look at being Federer meat an insult, especially in their first open. Britton, though, took at is a challenge, at least not to get embarrassed.
“My goal was not to get crushed,” he laughed. “And make it interesting for a while. At least which I thought. I got up a break a couple of times and that was fun the little time it lasted.”
This was Britton’s first Open as a professional. He came to New York three years ago as a junior, but was sent home after a couple of days. Before Federer, he said he faced, Marcos Baghadatis and Benjamin Becker, but no one on the class as Federer (Is there anyone who is?) and certainly there’s a difference.
“It’s just slightly different,” Britton said. “I mean, he’s the best. It’s a little different than those guys that were ranked 80 or 90. He’s obviously got plenty of confidence right now. This is his sixth, going for his sixth US Open in a row. I wasn’t expecting too much.”
So Britton was reduced to spectator as Federer went about his business. It took him two sets to realize that this was the US Open and was able to make a game of it in the third. By then it was too late.
Now this young man from Mississippi will hand around New York for a few days. He is looking to get into the doubles tournament as a wild card.
As for Federer, he’s off to the second round on what should be a long tournament for the five time champion. Next up is German Simon Gruel, ranked 65th in the world, which is a little higher than Britton’s 1370th ranking.
“It was a tricky match more for me,” Federer said. “I was playing a guy who had nothing to lose obviously.”
Yet this is Federer, who just never loses.