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US Open PIX: Djokovic, Pliskova cruise into second round; Gauff out

Last updated on: September 01, 2020 14:42 IST

Images from Day 1 of the 2020 US Open in New York, on Monday.

Zverev downs Anderson in battle of big servers

Germany's Alexander Zverev hits a forehand against South Africa's Kevin Anderson

IMAGE: Germany's Alexander Zverev hits a forehand against South Africa's Kevin Anderson. Photograph: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports

Germany's Alexander Zverev survived a tricky first-round test to beat 2017 finalist Kevin Anderson 7-6(2), 5-7, 6-3, 7-5 in the US Open on Monday.

For the second straight event since the COVID-19 lockdown, world number seven Zverev was given a tough draw, facing a former top-five opponent in his opening match.

"Kevin is not somebody you usually play in the first round," the 23-year-old Zverev said.

"I'm extremely happy to get through."

 

After losing to Andy Murray at the Western and Southern Open last week, Zverev ensured he came out of the blocks quickly against Anderson and he took the opening set in a one-sided tiebreak.

Both players were locked in an intense serve-and-volley duel before Anderson converted his only break-point opportunity in the second set.

The 2.03-metre tall South African came out on top with some deft touches at the net to draw level after two sets but Zverev soon found another gear to regain momentum.

Fifth seed Zverev took control of the contest with an early break in the third set as Anderson, playing only his ninth match of another injury-plagued season, struggled to keep up with his opponent's stinging groundstrokes.

After showing impressive control on his first serve, Zverev patiently worked on Anderson's serve to carve out a decisive break point late in the fourth set to clinch a hard-fought victory.

The result gave Zverev a much-needed confidence boost as he bids to improve on his maiden Grand Slam semi-final appearance in Melbourne earlier this year.

Zverev will next face American wild card Brandon Nakashima, who defeated Italian Paolo Lorenzi 6-3, 6-2, 7-6(3).

Pliskova moves into second round

Karolina Pliskova

IMAGE: The US Open, which is being played without fans, is the first Grand Slam to be contested since the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown global tennis in March. Photograph: Al Bello/Getty Images

Top seed Karolina Pliskova got a roaring start to her bid for a maiden Grand Slam title at the US Open on Monday, downing first-round opponent Anhelina Kalinina 6-4, 6-0 to kick off the action in Arthur Ashe Stadium.

 

The 28-year-old Czech, who led the WTA in aces in four of the last five years, struggled with an uncharacteristically uneven serve in the first set, committing three double faults and getting only slightly more than half of her first serves in to give her unseeded opponent a fighting chance.

But Pliskova, the 2016 US Open runner-up, found her footing in the second set, winning all her first-serve points and committing just one unforced error, as her Ukrainian opponent was left scrambling.

“I think my game was quite good for a first round,” said Pliskova, the world number three, who played in front of empty stands as the tournament is being held without fans due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“For sure I prefer to have people around me,” she added.

IMAGE: The US Open, which is being played without fans, is the first Grand Slam to be contested since the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown global tennis in March. Photograph: Al Bello/Getty Images

The match took place on an eerily quiet court, with the roar of jet engines and the rumble of the New York City subway piercing the silence. Tournament organizers piped in crowd noise to offer a taste of normality in between games and after particularly strong plays.

Pliskova, who has won 16 WTA titles, next faces unseeded Caroline Garcia of France.

Djokovic rolls into second round with win over Dzumhur

Novaj Djokovic in action against Damir Dzumhur

IMAGE: Novak Djokovic in action against Damir Dzumhur. Photograph: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Novak Djokovic got his campaign to win a fourth US Open, and 18th Grand Slam title overall, off to a flying start on Monday by beating Damir Dzumhur 6-1, 6-4, 6-1 to advance to the second round.

Djokovic broke Dzumhur’s serve for a seventh time to seal the win in the first night match on Arthur Ashe Stadium court, which, due to COVID-19, was missing the thousands of rowdy New York tennis fans that usually flock to Queens every year.

After a dominant start, Djokovic struggled in the second set and lost his temper even after closing it out.

“I thought I started very well, a set and a break (up) then things got complicated,” a masked Djokovic said in courtside interview.

“I lost my focus, he started missing less and he put some good variety in the game ... he came up with some good shots and it was anybody’s game midway through the second set.”

Dominant Tsitsipas advances to second round

Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas plays a return during his first round match against Spain's Albert Ramos-Vinolas

IMAGE: Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas plays a return during his first round match against Spain's Albert Ramos-Vinolas. Photograph: Al Bello/Getty Images

Greek fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas kicked off his quest for a maiden Grand Slam title in style as he overwhelmed Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-2, 6-1, 6-1 on Monday to reach the second round of the US Open.

Tsitsipas, who entered the first Grand Slam of the COVID-19 era fresh off a run to the semi-finals of the US Open tune-up event, never faced a break point and broke Ramos-Vinolas seven times during the 98-minute match.

"I had a clear picture of what I was doing, where I was pressing. The depth on my ball was good," said Tsitsipas, whose best Grand Slam result to date came at the 2019 Australian Open where he reached the semi-finals.

The 22-year-old Tsitsipas, who has never been beyond the second round of the US Open, came into this week with 16 wins to his name this season and has been tipped by many to make a deep run in a tournament missing a number of top players.

Tsitsipas broke to go ahead 3-1 and that opened up his game as he went on to play the contest on his terms, flashing equal parts power and variety to overwhelm his opponent.

After Ramos-Vinolas held serve to start the third set, Tsitsipas won six consecutive games to wrap up the match and improve to 3-0 in head-to-head meetings with the Spaniard.

Tsitsipas enjoyed a solid day from the service line as he lost just four first-serve points and finished his day with 38 winners against 26 unforced errors.

The loss brought a speedy end to Ramos-Vinolas's return to competition as the Spaniard, in his first tour-level event since the ATP Tour returned from its COVID-19 hiatus, withdrew from last week's tune-up to be at the birth of his first child.

Up next for Tsitsipas will be a first-ever career meeting with American wildcard Maxime Cressy, who beat Slovakia's Jozef Kovalik 6-1, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.

Kvitova laments empty stands as she reaches US Open second round

Czech Republic's Petra Kvitova returns a shot to Czech Republic's Maria Bouzkova

IMAGE: Czech Republic's Petra Kvitova returns a shot to compatriot Maria Bouzkova. Photograph: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Sixth seed Petra Kvitova handily defeated Irina-Camelia Begu 6-3, 6-2 in first-round action at the US Open on Monday but the Czech admitted it took some time getting used to playing in front of the empty stands at Flushing Meadows.

The twice Wimbledon champion converted four of five break point opportunities and fired 23 winners to defeat her Romanian opponent.

"I had to motivate myself from the beginning to the end," the 30-year-old said in an on-court interview.

She also lamented the lack of crowd support at the event, which is being played without any fans in attendance due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has claimed over 180,000 lives in the United States.

"It's really mentally tough, to be honest," she added.

She added that being in the bubble meant she was no longer free to do what she would have wanted during her off days at the hardcourt major.

"Going out for the coffee, sitting in Central Park. Suddenly this is not (an) option," Kvitova told reporters.

Facing off on Court 17, the pair enjoyed unseasonably cool weather under cloudy skies, which was a welcome change from previous years when soaring temperatures left players drenched in sweat.

World number 12 Kvitova put the pressure on early, winning 10 of 12 net points and launching two aces in the first set.

Kvitova, who suffered a second-round exit last year at Flushing Meadows, will next face either Kateryna Kozlova of Ukraine or American Whitney Osuigwe.

Kerber reaches second round in New York

Angelique Kerber

IMAGE: Angelique Kerber returns a shot during her first round match against Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia at the 2020 US Open. Photograph: Al Bello/Getty Images

Former champion Angelique Kerber returned to action for the first time in seven months and beat Australian Ajla Tomljanovic 6-4, 6-4 on Monday to reach the second round of the US Open.

The 17th-seeded German, who entered the match having not competed since the fourth round of the Australian Open, overcame a shaky start on serve and got better as the 88-minute match at Louis Armstrong Stadium wore on.

Kerber, a three-times Grand Slam champion who triumphed at Flushing Meadows in 2016, traded breaks with Tomljanovic through the first four games of the match and then found her footing to take over the match.

The German southpaw converted all three break point chances to pull ahead 5-4 and then went on to serve out at love to grab the first set.

In the second, Kerber settled into a groove and broke her opponent twice before sealing the win on her third match point when a Tomljanovic forehand sailed long.

The US Open is the first Grand Slam to be contested since the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown global tennis in March.

Osaka allays injury fears in three-set win over Doi

 Japan's Naomi Osaka celebrates her first round win over compatriot Misaki Doi by hitting the ball in the stands

IMAGE: Japan's Naomi Osaka celebrates her first round win over compatriot Misaki Doi by hitting the ball in the stands. Photograph: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Japan's Naomi Osaka showed no signs of discomfort from the injury that forced her to miss a final on Saturday but the former US Open champion had to dig deep to beat compatriot Misaki Doi 6-2 5-7 6-2 in her opener at Flushing Meadows.

A left hamstring injury had forced Osaka to withdraw from the Western & Southern Open final against Victoria Azarenka but the fourth seed's movement did not seem to be affected against Doi on Monday.

The past week saw Osaka, 22, emerge as tennis' torchbearer in protests against racial injustice and she walked out to the court wearing a mask featuring the name of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman killed by police officers who burst into her apartment in March.

"Actually, so I have seven (masks)," said Osaka.

"It's quite sad that seven masks aren't enough for all the names. Hopefully I'll get to the final so you can see all of them."

Osaka initially pulled out of her semi-finals at the Western & Southern Open on Thursday to protest the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

She reversed her decision after tennis governing bodies suspended the tournament to join the protests.

With no spectators allowed into the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols, large sections of seating in the Arthur Ashe Stadium court were covered with 'Black Lives Matter' banners.

Osaka, the 2018 champion, started strongly in the opening set as she broke Doi's serve twice without facing a single breakpoint.

But she struggled with her serve in the second and her unforced errors mounted as the 81st-ranked Doi, who lost to Osaka in their only previous meeting in 2016, levelled the match with a second break.

Normal service was resumed in the decider, however, as Osaka broke her Fed Cup team mate early before sealing the win with a second break.

"It was very difficult and I kind of expected it because first-round nerves and also she's a tough opponent so I knew there was a chance it would get really long," Osaka said in a courtside interview.

"I felt like it could have been better (with my serve) but it did what it needed to do on the very important points so I can't be that mad. I definitely need to practise some more."

Next up for Osaka, who was born in Japan to a Haitian father and Japanese mother and moved to the United States when she was three, will be Italian Camila Giorgi, who earlier beat Alison van Uytvanck 2-6, 6-1, 7-5.

"She's very unpredictable for me so I guess I'm going to have to be on my toes," Osaka said.

Grand Slam bubble bursts for US teen Gauff

USA's Coco Gauff plays a return against Latvia's Anastasija Sevastova 

IMAGE: USA's Coco Gauff plays a return against Latvia's Anastasija Sevastova. Photograph: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

A US Open expected to produce surprises in the unnerving calm of a fanless Flushing Meadows delivered on day one as American teen sensation Coco Gauff was eliminated from the first round of a Grand Slam for the first time.

Gauff, whose run to the third round ignited last year’s tournament, bowed out 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 to Anastasija Sevastova at an empty Louis Armstrong Stadium on Monday.

Having reached the fourth round at the Australian Open in January and Wimbledon in her Grand Slam main draw debut last year, 16-year-old Gauff had never felt the pain of an early exit from the majors.

Adding weight to the disappointment was the long break between Grand Slams, with the COVID-19 pandemic having cancelled Wimbledon and postponed Roland Garros.

“I could have played better today,” Gauff told reporters.

“I just got on Tour a little over a year ago, so I still have a lot to learn and a long way to go.”

The young American was far from her best against former semi-finalist Sevastova, who came into the match on a run of seven consecutive first-round defeats.

Gauff struck 13 double-faults and surrendered the error-strewn contest with a service break against 30-year-old Sevastova, the 31st seed in a women’s draw lacking about a quarter of the Tour’s top 100 players.

The lack of fans at the stadium was no issue for Gauff, who had said she would compete “just as hard” with or without them.

However, the long break from competition may not have helped, said Gauff, who lost her first match at the Western and Southern Open to Greek Maria Sakkari in the leadup.

Shapovalov overcomes court jinx in opener

Canada's Denis Shapovalov celebrates after match point against USA's Sebastian Korda

IMAGE: Canada's Denis Shapovalov celebrates after match point against USA's Sebastian Korda. Photograph: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports

Denis Shapovalov did not get his choice of court for his first round match at the US Open on Monday and was delighted to get out of Louis Armstrong Stadium with a straightforward victory over American wild card Sebastian Korda.

The Canadian revealed after his opener that he had asked tournament director Stacey Allaster not to put him on the second showcourt, where his tournaments came to an end with five-set defeats at the last two US Opens.

Shapovalov went down in a third-round thriller to Kevin Anderson in 2018 and lost an even closer contest to Gael Monfils at the same stage last year which brought the New York crowd to a frenzy.

“Yeah, I was telling Stacey before the tournament, whatever you do, don’t put me on Armstrong. I’ve had some brutal losses there,” the 21-year-old told reporters.

“Surely enough, first round she puts me there,” he added to laughter.

Shapovalov, who reached the fourth round on his first visit to Flushing Meadows in 2017, was very much the younger man when he faced off against Anderson and Monfils, but the tables were turned on Monday.

Korda, the 20-year-old son of 1998 Australian Open champion Petr, was making his Grand Slam main draw debut but never looked like taking Shapovalov to a deciding set as the 12th seed set up a meeting with South Korea’s Kwon Soon-woo.

“Even though I have lost on that court, I have had some amazing matches and played some of my best tennis on those courts so it was good feelings coming back out there,” Shapovalov added.

“But it was actually interesting today, because it was probably the first time that I felt like I was the veteran on the tour and he was a bit of a rookie.”

Lajovic crashes out

Serbian Dusan Lajovic, seeded 18th, became the first major casualty of the opening round as he suffered a shock 6-1, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 defeat by Egor Gerasimov of Belarus.

Vondrousova first to advance to second round

The Czech Republic’s 12th seed Marketa Vondrousova became the first player to win a match at the US Open this year after she beat Greet Minnen 6-1, 6-4.

Vondrousova, 21, broke her Belgian opponent four times and fired 16 winners to wrap up the match in just 63 minutes to advance to the second round.

Johnson withstands Isner storm to advance at US Open

John Isner began the US Open in typical fashion on Monday with a barrage of aces and a match that stretched to five sets, but the American failed to find a way past compatriot Steve Johnson as he fell 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-3, 7-6(3).

World number 22 Isner sent down 52 aces in the contest -- the most at Flushing Meadows since Ivo Karlovic fired 61 in 2016 -- but Johnson withstood the storm to prevail in a gruelling match that lasted nearly four hours at Louis Armstrong Stadium.

"You can't get frustrated when John's hitting aces. If that's the case then you're in for a long day," Johnson, who had 22 aces of his own, said.

"He's got the best serve in the history of tennis. You know he's going to hit a lot of aces. I guessed right a lot and they still got by me.

"It's just the way it is. You have to laugh it off. I've played John enough to know it's just trying to get your racket on it, any return you make is a good one and you move on."

After a tight opening set, Johnson had a relatively easier time in the next as he got the crucial break of serve to level the contest at one set apiece.

Isner edged the third set after blasting 12 aces past his close friend before Johnson responded with another break in the fourth set that helped him drag the contest into a decider.

Johnson failed to convert two break-point opportunities in the final set of the contest but held his nerve in the tiebreak to seal the deal on his second matchpoint.

Johnson next faces Lithuania's Ricardas Berankis, who got past Italian Federico Gaio 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. The American is looking to reach the third round for the first time since 2012.

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