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US Open PIX: Alcaraz, Murray advance; Minnen routs Venus

Last updated on: August 30, 2023 10:04 IST
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Images from Day 2 of the 2023 US Open at Flushing Meadows in New York on Tuesday.

Alcaraz advances as injured Koepfer retires

IMAGE: Carlos Alcaraz in action during his first round match against Germany's Dominik Koepfer on Day 2 of the 2023 US Open on Tuesday. Photograph: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

Defending champion Carlos Alcaraz cruised into the second round of the US Open on Tuesday after his opponent, German Dominik Koepfer, retired with an injury during their primetime match in the Arthur Ashe Stadium.


The 20-year-old top seed from Spain was leading 6-2, 3-2 when Koepfer retired, having rolled his ankle at a grimace-inducing angle minutes into the match. Alcaraz will play Lloyd Harris of South Africa in the second round.

"He's a great player, he has big shots so I have to be really focused on the match," said Alcaraz. "Obviously (it) is going to be a tough one."

Alcaraz drew a packed crowd to the iconic American stadium but the affair quickly unraveled as underdog Koepfer stopped short along the baseline in the first game, twisting his left ankle and losing much hope of putting up a fight.

He took a medical timeout to have his ankle taped and returned to the court with the score at deuce but was clearly not at full strength and Alcaraz easily converted a break point with a well-placed drop shot.

The German showed grit as he fended off a break point in the third game of the first set but was overheard telling his team that his ankle was in terrible shape, as his camp questioned whether he should continue.

IMAGE: Dominik Koepfer stopped short along the baseline in the first game, twisting his left ankle and losing much hope of putting up a fight. Photograph: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

Koepfer buried his head in his towel after Alcaraz forced him into a forehand error to convert on a break point chance in the seventh game.

Wimbledon champion Alcaraz was in fine form, sending over 19 winners with few mistakes across the match, and broke Koepfer to love in the third game of the second set after the German whacked a backhand shot out of bounds.

Koepfer fended off a pair of break point chances in the fifth game before solemnly walking to the net to resign.

"Obviously I have to give credit to him," Alcaraz said in on-court remarks after the match. "First step on the court, I felt great... the same energy that I felt last year."

Alcaraz will lose his world number one spot when the tournament wraps after rival Novak Djokovic demolished Frenchman Alexandre Muller in his opening match on Monday, a result that meant the Serb will replace him at the top of the rankings.

Venus Williams suffers early exit

IMAGE: Venus Williams lost in the first round against Belgium's Greet Minnen . Photograph: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

Two-time US Open champion Venus Williams suffered her most lopsided loss in 24 appearances at the Grand Slam tournament with a 6-1, 6-1 defeat at the hands of qualifier Greet Minnen in the first round on Tuesday.

The German smacked 24 winners and saved all six break points she faced to dispatch the veteran American, who she reveres.

"In 1997, Venus already played a final here and I was just born, so for me it was incredible to play a legend like her," the 26-year-old Minnen said in an on-court interview.

"I have huge respect for her."

Former world number one Williams' best chance of climbing back into the contest came when she had a break point opportunity in the opening game of the second set but she failed to convert.

The hard-hitting Minnen would break the next game at love and cruise to victory in the match that lasted just 75 minutes.

"First I have to give credit to my opponent," Williams told reporters.

"There wasn't a shot she couldn't make. Even when I hit really amazing shots, she just hit a winner or a dropshot, so I don't think I played badly. I think it was just one of those days where it's just unlucky."

IMAGE: Greet Minnen celebrates winning her first round match. Photograph: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

Seven-time Grand Slam winner Williams, whose younger sister Serena retired after last year's US Open with 23 major titles to her name, said she was prepared to come to Flushing Meadows without her sibling playing.

"I was very much aware that Serena wouldn't be playing the tournament, so I think I was okay. I've had a chance to get used to that idea even before she retired," she said.

"I kind of knew that was coming."

Asked when she might hang up her racket, Williams was non-committal.

"I wouldn't tell you," she said with a smile.

"I don't know. I don't know why you're asking."

Murray and Norrie advance in straight sets

IMAGE: Andy Murray, working his way back from hip surgeries, was forced to labour more than Norrie, needing four match points and three hours to beat Frenchman Corentin Moutet. Photograph: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

Andy Murray and Cameron Norrie sailed into the second round of the US Open with straight-sets wins on Tuesday as hopes for British success at the tournament got off to a promising start.

Former champion Murray, working his way back from hip surgeries, was forced to labour more than Norrie, needing four match points and three hours to beat Frenchman Corentin Moutet 6-2, 7-5, 6-3, sealing victory with a lovely backhand winner.

"I'm at my highest ranking since I had the metal hip so I'm happy with that," said Murray, the former world number one now ranked 37th and unseeded at the major he won in 2012.

"It's not been an easy journey - obviously I would like to be ranked higher," he added after notching his 200th match win at a Grand Slam tournament.

Murray, 36, comfortably captured the opening set against his 24-year-old opponent before falling an early break behind in the second.

Moutet had set points at 5-4 but failed to convert and Murray broke with a blistering backhand winner, leading the emotional Frenchman to demolish his racket.

Murray had set point two games later and did well to put a well-placed serve back into play and Moutet responded by badly missing an overhead to fall two sets behind.

On serve at 2-2 in the third, Moutet fell while chasing down a ball hit into the corner, the lefty landing hard on his left wrist and staying down for an extended period.

He would continue and dig deep to fend off break points and hold for 3-3.

But fan-favourite Murray would not be denied, converting his 10th break point chance of the set with a deft drop shot for 5-3 en route to victory.

"It was amazing - brilliant atmosphere," Murray said to his many fans packed into the Grandstand court.

"He's one of the most skillful players on the tour. He always causes a little bit of chaos out there."

Earlier in the day, 16th seed Norrie cruised past Alexander Shevchenko 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 in 91 minutes as he looks to turn around a disappointing second half of his season.

Norrie fell in the second round of Wimbledon and suffered first round exits at three US Open warm-up events but played nearly flawless tennis to dispatch the Russian.

"I always feel good coming to New York and I think I was really hungry to get a win. You know, I hadn't had too many in the last few weeks," Norrie told reporters.

"It was a good win, but on to the next one."

Britain's Dan Evans and Jack Draper are also in action on Tuesday.

Pegula charges into second round

IMAGE: Jessica Pegula powered into the second round with an easy victory against Italy's Camila Giorgi. Photograph: Mike Segar/Reuters

American Jessica Pegula took her place in the US charge into the second round as she fired off eight aces to swat aside Italy's Camila Giorgi 6-2, 6-2.

The third seed has taken a backseat to compatriot Coco Gauff in the headlines, as local fans hope to see an American hoist the trophy for the first time since 2017, but said she has no problem ceding the spotlight.

"Coco can take it, that pressure, not me," said Pegula, who will play Romanian Patricia Maria Tig next. "It's nice that there is a lot of us that are doing well and that have chances to go deep here."

Medvedev routs Balazs

IMAGE: Daniil Medvedev fired off 41 winners during his first round win against Hungarian Attila Balazs. Photograph: Mike Segar/Reuters

With Alcaraz and Djokovic hogging the spotlight, Daniil Medvedev had been the forgotten man but the third seeded Russian remains a threat to claim his second US Open title in three years.

He got everyone's attention when he dispatched Hungarian Attila Balazs 6-1, 6-1, 6-0 in a speedy affair to kick off the action on Arthur Ashe Stadium, firing off 41 winners to set up a second round meeting with Australian Christopher O'Connell.

Sabalenka wobbles before seeing off Zanevska

An error-prone Aryna Sabalenka overcame her early struggles on serve to overpower unseeded Belgian Maryna Zanevska 6-3, 6-2 on Tuesday and move into the second round of the US Open.

Twice New York semi-finalist Sabalenka, who is bidding to win her second Grand Slam title and leapfrog Iga Swiatek into top spot in the world rankings, was nowhere near her best but showed composure when it mattered most in a tricky contest.

The Australian Open champion made a shaky start with five double faults to drop serve twice, but Ukrainian-born Zanevska was unable to capitalise on both occasions to let her second-seeded opponent off the hook.

"First of all I want to thank you guys for staying because if I would be you, after the third double fault I'd leave the stadium. Thank you for being patient," Sabalenka, who made 23 unforced errors, told the crowd later.

"It was a tough start, it was so humid. I couldn't hold my racket. I'm glad I was able to get through this situation and get this win. She played an unbelievable match and she fought till the end. I'm just super happy with the win."

Garcia ousted in first round by Chinese qualifier

Caroline Garcia's hopes of making another deep run at the US Open came to a quick end as the French seventh seed suffered a shock 6-4, 6-1 first round loss to Chinese qualifier Yafan Wang on Tuesday.

Garcia, a semi-finalist at Flushing Meadows last year who went on to claim the biggest title of her career two months later at the WTA Finals, was undone by 34 unforced errors against world number 114 Wang.

With the loss, Garcia will fall from the top 10 of the rankings to outside the top 20.

Wang, a former world number 47 who missed seven months of action in 2022 and was ranked 696th in March, has a 57-10 across all levels this year, including titles in five ITF events and the WTA 125 tournament in Stanford two weeks ago.

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