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AP Photo/Darron Cummings
Tennis

U.S. Open: Venus survives, Serena and Andy Murray thrive

AP Photo/Darron Cummings

Through one round of the most wide open Slam in years, both draws have been as stable as it gets. In a rarity, all top ten seeds in each side won their opener, and even rarer, no woman in the top 20 of the rankings lost their debut. The most prominent players to avoid the upset were the duo in the night session, Serena Williams and Andy Murray, who came in with very different types of chatter around them.

Williams was a total question mark coming in given her shoulder injury, and she looked pretty much like herself, making a point to fire some early bombs on serve against Kate Makarova. Williams wasn’t perfect in the 6-3, 6-3 win that took just over an hour, but it was clear her antennae were up for an accomplished opponent, not just any old run of the mill fodder. Unfortunately for fans looking for a tight match, the Makarova from the semifinals here two years ago against Serena showed up, and she had little to offer in the way in resistance, despite her experience and lefty hooking forehand.

Serena had a much easier time than her sister Venus, who preceded her on Arthur Ashe Stadium. Up a set and a break on Kateryna Kozlova, things got very complicated when Kozlova dug in and turned into a defensive wall from the baseline. Venus began pressing and missing, allowing Kozlova to steal the second set. A tight third set saw it essentially decided by one flinchy game from Kozlova, as Venus kept her nerve when it mattered, surviving 6-2, 5-7, 6-4.

Coming off wins at Wimbledon and the Olympics, but also his first loss of the summer in Cincinnati, Andy Murray was much more Serena than Venus against Lukas Rosol in the nightcap. Just as it looked as if Rosol would have something to offer through an even first four games, it became one way traffic, as Murray tightened his grip and stepped up his play after letting go of the distraction caused by the new crowd reverberations created from the Arthur Ashe roof. Murray looked no worse for the wear after his long summer in a 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 romp.

 

Other Tuesday headlines

— Notable men who advanced without trouble: Stan Wawrinka (outplayed early by Verdasco, but comfortably won in straights after taking first set tiebreaker; did not drop serve all match), Kei Nishikori (cruising through two sets, ended up down a break in the fourth but never really in danger), Grigor Dimitrov, Juan Martin del Potro, David Ferrer (Dolgopolov retired in first set), Feliciano Lopez (Coric retired in first set after tweaking injured knee again), Nick Kyrgios. Sascha Zverev avoided a fifth set with a good breaker over countryman Daniel Brands.

— Notable women who advanced without trouble: Simona Halep (missed a double-bagel after flinching a bit at 6-0, 5-0, match point, still won 0 & 2), Carla Suarez Navarro (double-bageled Pereira), Aga Radwanska (dropped just two games), Timea Bacsinszky (same), Lucie Safarova (over Gavrilova), Nastia Pavlyuchenkova, Karolina Pliskova, Jelena Jankovic. Sam Stosur needed three to dispatch Camila Giorgi.

— Noteworthy names on the women’s side who weren’t as fortunate: Ana Ivanovic (squandered two chances to close first set, collapsed from there; said post-match that retirement is not on the table), Genie Bouchard (fell apart in third set to Siniakova), Laura Robson (played pretty well given injuries, fell in tight three-setter to fellow Brit Naomi Broady), Dasha Kasatkina, Kiki Bertens (to post-hype teenager Ana Konjuh).

— Injury-riddled veteran and former top 10 player Janko Tipsarevic stunned Sam Querrey in four sets. The cycle of tennis: at one Slam, Querrey knocks off World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, ending his Calendar Slam bid. The next Slam? Falls opening round to a player with four ATP-level wins since September 2013, and none on hardcourts.

— The biggest upset of round one? Jared Donaldson pulling away from David Goffin in four sets, 4-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-0. Although has heavily cooled since the spring, this was still very unexpected. Donaldson was on fire, showing the form that helped him take a set off Wawrinka a couple weeks ago. A particularly impressive part for the young American: after failing to serve out the third set, he mentally rebounded and didn’t lose another game.

— Bernie Tomic continued being Bernie Tomic, saying some vulgar things to a person (or group) in the crowd and using it as fuel to mount a comeback…until he’d had enough and lost the fourth set tiebreaker without winning a point, going out to Damir Dzumhur.

— They weren’t as abundant as Monday, but Tuesday had some dramatic five-setters:

  • Dominic Thiem put in a brutal performance against John Millman, though he eventually overpowered the Aussie with his heavy forehand, winning the fourth and fifth sets to hang on.
  • Following the lead of John Isner and Jack Sock, Steve Johnson saved roughly half a dozen match points (a sign of how many there were: no one can seem to agree on the actual number) to come from two sets down and beat Evgeny Donskoy.
  • Fabio Fognini did the same in an emotionally charged match against Teymuraz Gabashvili, with Fognini yelling from the net at a fan(s) in the stand after he had completed his comeback. He also said post-match that Gabashvili grunts louder than Vika Azarenka.
  • Ivo Karlovic set a U.S. Open record for aces, with 61, against veteran Rendy Lu. Karlovic first break of the match couldn’t have come at a better time, as it sealed up a 7-5 fifth set.
  • Viktor Troicki pulled off his second first round comeback from two sets down this year, this time against Radu Albot and a reportedly charged crowd rooting heavily for Albot.

U.S. Open: Venus survives, Serena and Andy Murray thrive
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