After two days’ play in the 135th edition of US Open at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in the Flushing Meadows, New York, most men and women’s higher ranked players sailed into the second round. Japanese no.4 seed Kei Nishikori has been the biggest casualty so far, going down to unseeded Frenchman Benoit Pair in five sets on Monday. No.3 seed Andy Murray of GBR was given a scare by Australia’s Nick Kyrgios before coming through in four sets. Men’s defending champion and no.9 seed Marin Cilic also cruised to the second round along with no.5 seed Stan Wawrinka. In women’s singles draw, no.3 seed Maria Sharapova withdrew at the eleventh hour due to her right leg injury. However, three-time defending champion Serena Williams scored an easy first round victory along with no.2 seed Simona Halep of Romania and no.4 seed Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark. But no.6 seed Czech Republic’s Lucie Safarova, no.7 seed Serb Ana Ivanovic and no.8 seed Karolina Pliskova of Czech Republic made first round exits.
On Monday, Japan’s no.4 seeded player Kei Nishikori was the first-round victim against Benoit Paire of France. The last year’s finalist began by losing the first set 4-6 but he came back into the reckoning by taking the next two for a 2-1 set lead before the start of the fourth. Nishikori came close to winning, when he held two match points in the tiebreak against Paire. But the Japanese let the opportunity slip by and the Frenchman succeeded in forcing the decider. The hard-serving Frenchman matched Nishikori in the final set and broke him once to win at 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 7-6, 6-4. Joining Nishikori on the exit route were three seeded women. No.6 seed Czech Lucie Safarova became the first-round 4-6, 1-6 loser to Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko; no.7 seeded Ana Ivanovic of Serbia lost to unseeded Slovakian Dominika Cibulkova 3-6, 6-3, 3-6 while no.8 seed Karolina Pliskova also of the Czech Republic was beaten 6-2, 6-1 by American qualifier Anna Tatishvili.
World no.1 and top seed Novak Djokovic opened his US Open campaign with an overwhelming 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 victory over Brazil’s Joao Souza while no.2 seed Roger Federer faced no challenge from Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer in another 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 win. Former world no.1 and no.8 seed Rafael Nadal of Spain lost a set against Croatian teenager Borna Coric before outlasting his opponent 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4. But the other one from the big four club, no.3 seed Andy Murray was in some trouble against Australia’s temperamental star 20-year old Nick Kyrgios. Murray won the first two sets easily but lost the third as Kyrgios produced a forceful game. However, the experienced Scot kept his nerves and won at 7-5, 6-3, 4-6. 6-1. Murray broke the brilliant but unpredictable Australian seven times before finishing in 2 hours 43 minutes. In the second round on Thursday, Murray will face Adrian Mannarino of France.
In other notable men’s singles matches, no.5 seed Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland shook off a third-set challenge from Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas before winning at 7-5, 6-4, 7-6 in 2 hours 14 minutes; defending champion and no.9 seed Marin Cilic of Croatia reached the second round with a 6-3, 7-6, 7-6 victory over Argentinian qualifier Guido Pella; Frenchman Nicolas Mahut defeated American Sam Querrey 7-5, 7-6, 7-5, while Spain’s no.31 seed Guillermo Garcia-Lopez took five sets before beating Serbia’s Janko Tipsarevic 7-6, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-1.
Among women, three-time defending champion Serena Williams didn’t have to work too hard as her Russian opponent Vitalia Diatchenk retired in the second set with Serena leading 6-2, 2-0. Romania’s second seed Simona Halep also had an identical second-round progress, when her opponent from New Zealand Marina Erakovic retired in the second set, when Halep led 6-2, 3-0. No.4 seed Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark defeated American wild card Jamie Loeb 6-2, 6-0 and no.5 seed Czech Petra Kvitova defeated German qualifier Laura Siegemund 6-1, 6-1. Among other women singles player reaching the second round were the US trio of Venus Williams, Coco Vandeweghe and Madison Keys; Germany’s no.11 seed Angelique Kerber, her compatriot no.18 Andrea Petkovic and no.20 seed Belarusian Victoria Azarenka.
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