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NEW YORK (AP) — This trick shot by Roger Federer was most definitely real.
He's even hit it before.
The five-time U.S. Open champion was up at the net when his first-round opponent, 96th-ranked Brian Dabul of Argentina, lofted a lob. Federer spun around to sprint toward the baseline. A couple of steps before reaching the wall behind the court at Arthur Ashe Stadium, and with his back to the net, Federer swatted the ball between his legs. The shot landed in a corner beside Dabul, who raised his eyebrows and shrugged.
"Only he can do that," Dabul said.
It was part of a remarkable 46-4 edge in winners for Federer during his 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 victory Monday night. It also was the highlight at Flushing Meadows on Day 1 of the tournament, when past U.S. Open champions Andy Roddick, Venus Williams and Kim Clijsters all advanced, as did surprise 2009 quarterfinalist Melanie Oudin, while 2001 champion Lleyton Hewitt lost in the first round at New York for the first time.
The sublime bit of shotmaking was nearly identical to a back-to-the-court, through-the-legs passing winner Federer hit against Novak Djokovic in the 2009 U.S. Open semifinals.
"This one was incredible again," Federer said. "I turned around and couldn't believe the shot landed in the corner."
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