Teen sensation Cori "Coco" Gauff stages grand recovery to overcome Anastasia Potapova.
Dominic Thiem’s latest bid for Grand Slam glory came to an abrupt end at the US Open on Tuesday when he fell to unseeded Thomas Fabbiano 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 in a shock first-round exit, the biggest upset of the men's competition so far.
The fourth-seeded Austrian’s blistering serve yielded 14 aces but it was not enough to overcome the 30-year-old Fabbiano, whose fearsome forehand helped him save nine out of the 10 break points he faced.
The 25-year-old Thiem did himself no favours, committing 48 unforced errors during the match at Arthur Ashe Stadium, 28 more than his Italian opponent.
“I beat a top-10 guy in Wimbledon and another one here,” said Fabbiano, who upset world number eight Stefanos Tsitsipas in their first-round meeting at the All England Club in July.
“I’m starting to like to play these big matches and my game is coming better and better.”
Thiem said he was fatigued after the second set and that he was "far away from 100%.
"Congratulations to (Fabbiano) and I'm happy for him. But it was not the real me there on the court," Thiem said. "But I don't know how much his performance is worth because (it) was not against the real me."
For Thiem, who toppled Roger Federer earlier this year in the final at Indian Wells, the loss marks the latest frustration in his bid to claim a Grand Slam title.
Thiem was beaten by the King of Clay, Rafael Nadal in the 2018 and 2019 French Open finals, as well as in their quarter-final match at last year's US Open.
Nadal too good for Millman
Three-times champion Rafael Nadal denied John Millman any chance of posting another fairytale run in New York as he cruised by the Australian 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 in the first round.
Millman delivered the upset of the tournament last year when he beat five-times winner Roger Federer in a surprising run to the quarter-finals but he was unable to recreate the same magic against the relentless Spanish second seed.
Nadal said he came on court with a “lot of respect” for Millman.
“He showed last year what he is able to do when he is playing well,” he said.
“Always at the beginning (of a tournament) the first match everything is a little bit new, even if I have played here plenty of times. The beginnings are not easy.
“To be the first match honestly I think I played a good match, hitting good backhands, some more mistakes maybe with the forehand than usual but generally happy with how I started.”
Nadal, who last year retired from his semi-final with a knee injury after several gruelling matches, was a model of efficiency in his opening match of the year’s final Grand Slam.
The 33-year-old Spaniard, who snacked on some dates that were on a plate beside his courtside chair, seemed to get better as the match went on and made quick work of Millman in the final set where he went up an early double break for a 3-0 lead.
The only thing to rattle Nadal under the lights in Arthur Ashe Stadium came when he was getting ready to serve at 5-3 in the first set and the chair umpire issued a time violation that the Spaniard took issue with.
But Nadal, who denied that he was not ready to serve on time, did not let the incident knock him off course as he went on to close out the set in the ensuing game.
Nadal faced only three break points and easily turned aside each one. The first was in the opening game of the match, with Millman’s other two chances to break coming in the final game of the second set.
By contrast, Nadal converted five of his 15 break point chances against Millman, who did not have the weaponry or pace to keep up with the 18-times Grand Slam champion.
Up next for Nadal will be Australian wildcard Thanasi Kokkinakis.
Kyrgios downs Johnson to reach second round
Nick Kyrgios delivered heaps of brilliant shotmaking and a sprinkle of controversy in a 6-3, 7-6(1), 6-4 win over American Steve Johnson on Tuesday that put the Australian into the second round of the US Open.
Kyrgios was laser focused for the first half of the match as he deployed a lethal mix of monster serves, stinging forehands and smart net play but nearly unravelled when he got agitated over a fan who interrupted his ball toss.
The Australian 28th seed was serving at 4-4 in the second set when a woman trying to get to her seat entered his line of sight during his serve, at which point an annoyed Kyrgios asked aloud if she was alright.
Kyrgios then looked to the chair umpire who said he could not have prevented the interruption because he did not see it since he was focused on the players.
But a clearly perturbed Kyrgios was not happy with that explanation and following a verbal exchange was given a code violation warning for an audible obscenity.
Kyrgios, who has repeatedly gotten in trouble for on-court actions and is known for his short temper, did not let the incident affect his sublime play as he settled right back down to business.
The Australian blitzed Johnson in the second set tiebreak where he showed his lighter side when he broke into a little dance after chasing down a dropshot he sent back for a brilliant crosscourt winner and a commanding 6-0 cushion.
Johnson, who was being thoroughly outplayed, did manage to finally earn his first break to get to within 3-1 in the third set but Kyrgios relied on his massive serve to carry him over the finish line.
Up next for Kyrgios will be Frenchman Antoine Hoang, who beat Argentine Leonardo Mayer earlier on Tuesday.
Gauff delivers on the hype in first-round
Teen sensation Cori "Coco" Gauff lived up to the hype surrounding her US Open debut on Tuesday, battling back to beat Anastasia Potapova 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 in a back-and-forth thriller.
The outlook appeared bleak for the 15-year-old American when she was broken to open the second set but Gauff broke back in the next game to seize the momentum and ultimately level up the contest in front of a supportive crowd.
But hard-hitting 18-year-old Potapova, despite needing medical attention to her shoulder, refused to go down without a fight and Gauff had to earn her place in the second round.
Asked how she turned the match around, wildcard Gauff pointed to the fans inside Louis Armstrong Stadium.
"Honestly it's because of the crowd," she said. "You guys were amazing. No matter where I was on the court I could hear somebody supporting me and I'm really grateful for that."
Gauff also had words of praise for her opponent, who battled hard in the third set.
"I was trying to really dig deep. I was like, 'You got to make her play. She's not going to hand it to you," said Gauff.
"I really don't remember the match too well because everything is still a blur. But I do remember I think that four-all game, it was just like a lot of battling."
Gauff entered this year's tournament amid high expectations after reaching the last 16 at Wimbledon earlier this year.
She next faces 26-year-old Timea Babos of Hungary in the second round at Flushing Meadows.
Former champion Stephens ousted by Russian qualifier
Former champion Sloane Stephens was stunned by Russian qualifier Anna Kalinskaya 6-3, 6-4 in the first round of the US Open on Tuesday.
The American 11th seed, who triumphed here in 2017, fought off two match points but on the third was caught off guard when a backhand from the Russian clipped the net chord and landed in.
Kalinskaya, playing her first career Grand Slam night match and first inside Arthur Ashe Stadium, did not appear intimidated facing Stephens, whose US Open tune-up included a run to the last 16 in Cincinnati.
"It feels amazing to win the first match on this court, a subdued Kalinskaya said in her on-court interview. "I just tried to focus and don't think too much about her and think just about my game."
Kalinskaya was only broken once during the match and managed to convert three of her four break point chances.
Up next for Kalinskaya will be American wildcard Kristie Ahn.