To mark the debut of $ 150 million retractable roof of the Arthur Ashe Stadium, US Open managers brought the iconic pop-rock legend Phil Collins on the first day of the 2016 US Open. Collins doesn’t play tennis but he is known for blowing away the roofs with his Grand-Stand singing performances. The singing sensation has retired from public performances but in a fitting gesture, he obliged the US Open authorities by making another appearance for christening the retractable roof that has taken several years in the making. Earlier, to conclude the day-time session at Arthur Ashe, Rafael Nadal made short work of Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin in three sets and before Novak Djokovic lost a set against Poland’s Jerzy Janowicz on his way to his first-round victory, Collins began his masterful show with one of his greatest hits “In the Air Tonight”.
Tennis was forgotten for a while in New York, when the celebrated Phil Collins took center-stage at the Arthur Ashe Stadium. The singing maestro was making a special and rare appearance after announcing his retirement six years ago. It was the US Open organizers’ grand idea of christening the newly constructed retractable roof of the Stadium with Collins in their midst. The spectacular performance was televised live by a host of international broadcasters across the globe and Collins truly gladdened people’s hearts with his immortal renderings to headline the opening night ceremony.
While Collins’ magical show still lingered, top-seeded Djokovic began the tennis proceedings immediately afterwards. During the Rio Olympics, Djokovic had injured his right elbow and upper arm and he is still having trouble with it. He played his first round match against Jerzy Janowicz of Poland. In the middle of the first set, however, the Serb summoned the services of a medical trainer. He couldn’t get back into action until treatment on his arm was completed. Though he won the first set, Janowicz stole the second from him. Later, Djokovic found his consistency and came through with a 6-3, 5-7, 6-2, 6-1 victory over the Pole. During the on-court interview, Djokovic sang and dance in appreciation of Phil Collins’ phenomenal performance earlier. Commenting on the Serbian’s impromptu reaction, Collins said he was very proud of Djokovic’s mini performance. The maestro went on to add that, after he has done so much in tennis, Djokovic could do some touring with a singing artist.
Earlier in the day, fourth seeded Rafael Nadal didn’t face any problem against Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin. The Rio Olympic men’s doubles gold-medalist Spaniard, who missed the French Open and Wimbledon with injury to his left wrist, played a flawless game by defeating Istomin 6-1, 6-4, 6-2. The second match of this year’s US Open featured women’s no.2 seed Angelique Kerber of Germany playing against Slovenia’s Polona Hercog. Kerber began by beagling the Slovenian and didn’t need to play any further as Hercog retired after trailing 0-1 in the second set.
In the Louis Armstrong stadium, Spain’s women no.3 seed Garbine Muguruza lost the first set against Belgian qualifier Elise Mertens before winning the next two for a 2-6, 6-0, 6-3 victory. In opening day’s biggest shock, Britain’s Kyle Edmunds defeated no.13 seeded Frenchman Richard Gasquet 6-2, 6-2, 6-3. The Brit played powerfully and didn’t allow Gasquet to settle down. However, another Frenchman Gael Monfils went through by beating Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller 6-4, 6-2, 7-6. Monfils, however escaped unhurt after his accidental collision with a courtside clock in trying to chase a ball from Muller. The clock toppled over and broke but Monfils moved away in time. In an absorbing match between two Americans, twentieth seeded John Isner almost exited the tournament against his 18-year-old compatriot Frances Tiafoe. The teenager had a match point against Isner, who finally survived with a 3-6, 4-6, 7-6, 6-2, 7-6 victory.
Women’s no.1 seed Serena Williams and men’s second-seed Andy Murray are yet to begin their US Open campaign. However, with Djokovic and Nadal plagued with injury concerns and Roger Federer missing the US Open for the first time since 1999, Murray has the best chance to win at New York. If he does, it will be the second time for him after he won here in 2012. As for Serena, a good first-service percentage and consistency will be the only issues for her, if she were to add further to her 22 Grand Slam victories.