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US Open PIX: Serena sizzles; Thiem, Tsitsipas stunned

Last updated on: August 30, 2022 11:04 IST
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Images from Day 1 of the 2022 US Open, at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, in Flushing Meadows, New York, on Monday.

Serena Williams celebrates victory over Montenegro's Danka Kovinic in the first round of the US Open, at Flushing Meadows, in New York, on Monday night.

IMAGE: Serena Williams celebrates victory over Montenegro's Danka Kovinic in the first round of the US Open, at Flushing Meadows, in New York, on Monday night. Photograph: Mike Segar/Reuters

Serena Williams beat Montenegro's Danka Kovinic 6-3, 6-3 in front of a vociferous crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium to move into the second round of the US Open where she will face second seed Anett Kontaveit.

The victory over the 80th ranked Kovinic, just her second this year, will be a confidence boost for Williams but the path to a record equalling 24th Grand Slam now gets treacherous.

 

Waiting in the wings is Estonian second seed Anett Kontaveit, who breezed past Jaqueline Cristian 6-3, 6-0.

It was far from a vintage performance from the 40-year-old American but it mattered not to a jam-packed Arthur Ashe Stadium as Williams's fighting spirit remained razor sharp even if her serve and ground strokes were not.

Even with Williams far from her best the odds always appeared stacked against the 27-year-old from Montenegro.

Serena Williams stretches fully for a backhand return against Danka Kovinic.

IMAGE: Serena Williams stretches fully for a backhand return against Danka Kovinic. Photograph: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Playing in her 21st US Open, Williams has never lost in the first round and her victory over Kovinic was her 106th at Flushing Meadows.

While Kovinic has been enjoying the best Grand Slam season of her career reaching the third round of both the Australian and French Open, she had not won a single match since Roland Garros.

But as play got underway it was Williams showing signs of nerves, piling up the double faults as Kovinic got in front 3-2.

With the crowd as always in her corner, Williams lifted her game when she needed to, sweeping the next four games to snatch the first set.

Now in charge, Williams would not let it slip away in the second set, breaking to go up 3-2, and with match point and the crowd on its feet, she danced in delight as Kovinic's return hit the net.

Kyrgios beats doubles partner Kokkinakis

IMAGE: Nick Kyrgios, right, is congratulated by compatriot Thanasi Kokkinakis after winning their first round match. Photograph: Elsa/Getty Images

Australian Nick Kyrgios overcame his despair at seeing dear friend Thanasi Kokkinakis on the other side of the net on Monday, outclassing his compatriot 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(4) in the first round of the US Open.

The doubles partners won together at the Australian Open but landed on opposite sides at the year's final major, where an in-form Kyrgios kept his sublime year on track, never facing a break at Arthur Ashe Stadium in the battle of the "Special Ks."

"It was a nightmare, honestly, we never want to play each other," Kyrgios said in an on-court interview. "I can't wait to get out there and play doubles with him on the right side of the net."

The Wimbledon finalist bounced out of the first round last year but took care of business in just a little over two hours this time around, leaping into the air to smash an overhead volley to seal a largely routine first set after breaking Kokkinakis in the penultimate game.

Kyrgios broke Kokkinakis to love to open the second set, firing off 14 winners - twice as many as his opponent - in a relatively pristine display.

Not willing to go down without a fight, the unseeded Kokkinakis whacked across 10 aces in the final set but was simply no match for the superb Kyrgios, who dropped only two of his first-serve points.

"We just know each other's game like the back of our hand," said Kyrgios, who swept the final three points of the tiebreak. "I'm just really happy to move forward."

Debutant Holt stuns fellow American Fritz

IMAGE: Brandon Holt congratulates winning his first round match against Taylor Fritz. Photograph: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Qualifier Brandon Holt, the son of former two-time US Open champion Tracy Austin, made a memorable Grand Slam main draw debut on Monday by staging an upset 6-7(3), 7-6(1), 6-3, 6-4 win over fellow American 10th seed Taylor Fritz.

Ranked 303rd in the world, the 24-year-old Holt was awarded a qualifying wild card at Flushing Meadows and was making his Tour-level debut against Fritz, the highest-ranked American, at 12th.

Holt, who turned professional in 2020, was not even sure if he could continue playing tennis when he needed career-threatening surgery on his hand last year.

He did not play for the rest of 2021 and only returned to action at the feeder International Tennis Federation circuit in Cancun, Mexico, in January.

"I started the year ranked like 900-something after having an injury in my hand. I was out for like eight months. I basically had to start from scratch down there," Holt told reporters.

"I did well my first three tournaments back. I won all three of them in a row after a long time off, a lot of hard work recovering. Yeah, from there to here has been a very quick upward tick. Hopefully, I can keep it going."

IMAGE: Brandon Holt is greeted by his mother Tracy Austin, who won the US Open in 1979 and 1981. Photograph: Elsa/Getty Images

For a place in the third round of the hardcourt Grand Slam, Holt will next play Argentine Pedro Cachin, who edged Slovenia's Aljaz Bedene 6-4, 6-3, 5-7, 1-6, 7-6(10-6) in a final set tiebreaker.

Holt said he did not exactly remember the advice he received before the match from his mother, who won the US Open in 1979 and 1981.

"I don't know what she said. Probably just 'go have fun'. The same stuff, 'enjoy it'," Holt added.

"And I did. I found myself in some difficult situations, maybe I didn't play quite as well as I could have in certain times, but then I played very well in other times.

"That's tennis. Things are going to be up and down. Sometimes it was down, sometimes it was up. At the end of the day, it fell my way so I couldn't be happier."

Qualifier Galan produces epic first-round upset over Tsitsipas

Colombia's Daniel Elahi Galan celebrates match-point against Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas.

IMAGE: Colombia's Daniel Elahi Galan celebrates match-point against Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas. Photograph: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Colombian qualifier Daniel Galan stunned fourth-seeded Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-0, 6-1, 3-6, 7-5 in an epic first-round showdown at the US Open on Monday, winning the affair on the ninth match point.

Playing in the main draw for the first time, Galan appeared right at home on tennis' biggest stage, claiming the first 11 games as Tsitsipas struggled to find any of his usual finesse and won just five of his service points in the first set.

Tsitsipas had a physio tend to his right arm before the sixth game in the second set, when he finally got on the board, and again during the break before the third set, when he broke Galan in the second game.

Tsitsipas, who has never gotten past the third round in New York and had hoped to do better this year after reaching the Cincinnati final, dropped only four of his first-serve points in the third set and looked as though he had the momentum when he broke Galan again in the opening game of the fourth set.

"I just stayed calm. I lost the set but I felt I was doing better and better," said Galan, who broke back in the eighth.

Dripping with sweat and with the crowd egging them on, Galan nearly broke Tsitsipas for the match five times in the 10th game, and finally got the job done in the 12th, gazing at the stands with disbelief.

"I can't explain how I feel right now," he said after the match. "I went through the match well."

Ukraine's Snigur stuns former No. 1 Halep

Ukraine's Daria Snigur makes a heart over a pin with the colours of Ukraine as she celebrates victory over Romania's Simona Halep on Monday, Day 1 of the 2022 US Open, at Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

IMAGE: Ukraine's Daria Snigur makes a heart over a pin with the colours of Ukraine as she celebrates victory over Romania's Simona Halep on Monday, Day 1 of the 2022 US Open, at Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre. Photograph: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Ukrainian qualifier Daria Snigur produced the performance of her career to upset twice Grand Slam winner Simona Halep 6-2, 0-6, 6-4 in the first round of the US Open Monday.

The 20-year-old Snigur showed poise beyond her years to break Halep in the opening game and again in the third as she capitalised on a mounting number of unforced errors from the Romanian.

However, Snigur's form completely fell apart in the second set as Halep stormed through six games in 24 minutes to roars of approval from the crowd at Lois Armstrong Stadium.

But Halep, who won the Canadian Open title for the third time earlier this month before pulling out of Cincinnati with an injury, failed to maintain that momentum as she dropped her serve in the first and fifth games.

The 30-year-old broke Snigur in the eighth game to stay alive and fended off two match-points in the next game.

But Snigur kept her nerve to seal victory before bursting into tears. She then formed a heart shape with her hands around the Ukrainian ribbon pinned to her shirt.

"I'm very, very, very nervous but I tried to do my best," she said, her voice shaking, in an on-court interview.

"For Ukraine, for my family... I want to say thank you, all."

Busta sends 2020 champion Thiem packing

Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta plays a forehand against Austria's Dominic Thiem.

IMAGE: Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta plays a forehand against Austria's Dominic Thiem. Photograph: Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Spain's Pablo Carreno Busta sent 2020 champion Dominic Thiem packing 7-5, 6-1, 5-7, 6-3 in the first round, as the Austrian wildcard struggled with his forehand on the long road back from injury.

Thiem reached his first Tour-level semi-final in more than a year at last month's Swiss Open, a key milestone as he works to regain his form after a June 2021 wrist injury, but showed he still has work to do as he stumbled into 30 unforced forehand errors on Court 17.

Carreno Busta, fresh off his maiden Masters 1000 title in Montreal, overcame early jitters that saw him drop his serve in the first game to put up a comparatively clean performance, winning nearly two-thirds of his first-serve points a year after he crashed out in the opening round.

He next faces Kazakhstan's Alexander Bublik, who defeated France's Hugo Gaston 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.

Gauff wins for first time on Ashe to move into second round

Coco Gauff and Leolia Jeanjean meet at the net after their first round match.

IMAGE: Coco Gauff of the United States and France's Leolia Jeanjean meet at the net after their first round match. Photograph: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Coco Gauff eased into the second round of the US Open with a comfortable 6-2, 6-3 victory over France's Leolia Jeanjean.

The American, the 12th seed and home favourite, had the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium firmly behind her as she wrapped up the match in 79 minutes on the back of a strong first serve.

"I'm super excited because this is my first win on Ashe. I think this is my fourth match here on this court and it's my first win," she said in her on-court interview.

The 18-year-old, who was French Open runner-up earlier this year, fired eight aces and lost only two points on her first serve.

Gauff will next play Romania's Elena-Gabriela Ruse, who beat Australia's Daria Saville 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.

Medvedev whacks aside Kozlov to begin US Open title defence

Daniil Medvedev returns against American Stefan Kozlov in their first round match

IMAGE: Daniil Medvedev returns against American Stefan Kozlov during their first round match. Photograph: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

World number one Daniil Medvedev opened his US Open title defence by walloping American Stefan Kozlov 6-2, 6-4, 6-0 in sweltering conditions on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The Russian had an inconsistent run-up to Flushing Meadows but was back to top form on the court where he won his maiden Grand Slam title a year ago, sending across 10 aces and neutralising Kozlov's serve.

"Most pleased to win first of all... not easy conditions," said Medvedev, who repeatedly wrapped an ice towel around his neck to keep cool in the humid, 85-degree Fahrenheit (29.4 Celsius) conditions. "Serve was quite the key today."

The pair traded breaks early in the first set before Medvedev got his motor running, clinching the next four games as Kozlov won fewer than half of his first-serve points.

Kozlov was no match for Medvedev's raw power in the second set. The American scraped his wrist and knee after he dived to retrieve the ball, but ended up falling to the ground heavily in the ninth game that saw Medvedev break him to love.

He called on the trainer to tend to the injuries but Medvedev showed no mercy as he raced through the final set like a bullet train in just 27 minutes to set up a meeting with Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech in the second round.

Murray downs error-prone Cerundolo to reach second round

Great Britain's Andy Murray wins the first set against Argentina's Francisco Cerundolo

IMAGE: Great Britain's Andy Murray celebrates winning the first set against Argentina's Francisco Cerundolo. Photograph: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Andy Murray powered into the second round of the US Open with a comfortable 7-5, 6-3, 6-3 win over Argentine Francisco Cerundolo on Monday, as the former world number one rolled back the years at the scene of his first Grand Slam triumph a decade ago.

The 35-year-old Scot, who has battled various injuries in recent years, raced to a 5-2 lead early in the match but dropped his level slightly before edging a tight first set and breaking quickly in the next to put 24th seed Cerundolo under pressure.

Murray staved off a comeback attempt by Cerundolo to take the second set for a commanding lead and showed little signs of stepping off the gas pedal, as his opponent continued to make life difficult for himself with unforced errors.

A double break in the third set allowed twice Wimbledon champion Murray to surge ahead 4-1 and he sealed the win when Cerundolo sent a return long.

Murray faces American Emilio Nava, who defeated Australia's John Millman 7-6(9-7), 4-6, 7-6(7-4), 1-6, 6-1, in the second round.

Wu ends China's 63-year wait for men's Grand Slam match win

China's Yibing Wu serves during his match against Georgia's Nikoloz Basilashvili

IMAGE: China's Yibing Wu serves against Georgia's Nikoloz Basilashvili. Photograph: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Qualifier Wu Yibing gave China reason to cheer when he became the first man from the country in 63 years to win a men's Grand Slam match after he beat Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 in the first round of the US Open on Monday.

Wu, who came through three qualifying matches, beat the 31st seed Basilashvili to walk in the footsteps of Fu Chi Mei, who overcame Ron Barnes in five sets in the first round of the 1959 Wimbledon Championships.

The 22-year-old Wu has come into the US Open in a rich vein of form having won two ATP Challenger titles back-to-back while he has also seen a steep rise in the rankings, moving from 1,869 in March to a career-high 174 now.

He was the world's number one junior and no stranger to winning at Flushing Meadows after clinching the boys' singles and doubles titles in 2017 to become the first Chinese male to win a Grand Slam title of any kind.

But it has not been plain sailing for the Chinese prodigy, however, as he did not play from March 2019 to January 2022 due to injuries to his elbow -- which required surgery -- back, shoulder and wrist.

Wu was almost joined in the second round by compatriot and Chinese number one Zhang Zhizhen but the 25-year-old was beaten by Tim van Rijthoven, who saved seven match points in the third set to seal an improbable 3-6, 6-7(4), 7-6(9), 6-1, 6-4 victory.

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