The U.S. Open,wrapping up an unpredictable year of Grand Slam tennis,quickly produced a big upset Monday. A British man not named Andy Murray 179th-ranked qualifier Daniel Evans stunned 11th-seeded Kei Nishikori in straight sets. Evans won 6-4,6-4,6-2 in his U.S. Open debut. Both are 23,but Nishikori was playing in his 17th Grand Slam event,with a 25-16 record coming in. Evans was 0-2,both matches at Wimbledon.
The women’s draw opened with no surprises. Third-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska and fifth-seeded Li Na advanced in straight sets. Radwanska beat Silvia Soler-Espinosa 6-1,6-2,while Li defeated Olga Govortsova 6-2,6-2. Radwanska withdrew from her last tournament at Cincinnati on Aug. 15 before her quarterfinal against Li to fly home for her grandfather’s funeral. “Sometimes there are some things more important than tennis,” Radwanska said. “It was something like that,and it was really a pretty quick choice. Of course,this is the situation that we have to be home for the family,and I think I owed my granddad to be there.”
American teen Lauren Davis lost by a “double bagel,” falling to 18th-seeded Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain 6-0,6-0 in 57 minutes. The day started with some big news from a veteran U.S. player: Three-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist James Blake announced he would retire after the tournament at age 33. Roger Federer is 32,and his struggles this year have him hearing questions about how much longer he’ll play. The five-time U.S. Open champ is seeded seventh,his worst since 2002. Federer plays Grega Zemlja in Monday’s last match at Arthur Ashe Stadium. Top-seeded Serena Williams begins the night session against Francesca Schiavone.
Rafael Nadal was facing doubt about his career when a knee injury sidelined him for seven months. But with a 10-0 record on hard courts leading to the U.S. Open,he’s seeded second. The Spaniard opens against American Ryan Harrison on Monday.
Blake to call it quits
James Blake announced on Monday he was retiring from tennis after the U.S. Open. The 33-year-old American told a news conference at Flushing Meadows he could have played on but decided it was time for him to quit. “This is my last tournament,” he said. “I have had 14 pretty darn good years on tour,loved every minute of it,and I definitely couldn’t have asked for a better career. I’m really,really excited I have gotten to do this on my terms. I had knee surgery a couple years ago,and if that had been the end it would have been a little more disappointing to me to end it without going out the way I am now where still just two weeks ago I beat a guy top 20 in the world.”
Blake,currently ranked 100th in world,plays Croatia’s Ivo Karlovic in the first round of the U.S. Open. One of the most respected players on the circuit,Blake was inspired to take up tennis after hearing Arthur Ashe address a group of young players at a tennis clinic in Harlem. He turned professional in 1999 after attending Harvard University but endured plenty of hardship along the way. He was diagnosed with curvature of the spine when he was a child and broke his neck in a freak accident in Rome in 2004,the same year his father died,but said his experiences gave him a sense of perspective in a sport where players earn millions of dollars and travel the world.
“I think that time being part of the biggest tragedies of my life to this point also clued me in to how lucky I am right now to be doing this on my terms,because my career could have ended twice in 2004. I was millimeters from breaking my neck in the way that would have left me paralyzed for the rest of my life,” he said.
“When that happened and I was able to get back in a few months,I knew how lucky I was. Unfortunately,it was also the time my father passed away,and that had an effect on me physically with shingles. If I hadn’t gotten to the ER immediately for treatment they said my facial nerve could have died. If that’s the case,I never would have played. (It) easily could have ended right there and my life could have been drastically different. I know how lucky I am to be where I am and to be able to do it this way.”
During his career,Blake won 10 ATP singles titles and reached a highest-ranking of fourth in 2006. He reached the quarter-finals at three grand slams and was a key member of the U.S. team that won the Davis Cup in 2007.
Results: R. Gasquet (FRA) [8 bt M. Russell (USA) 6-3 6-4 6-2; D. Evans (GBR) bt K. Nishikori (JPN) [11 6-4 6-4 6-2; A. Radwanska (POL) [3 bt S. Soler-Espinosa (ESP) 6-1 6-2; V. Venus (USA) bt K. Flipkens (BEL) [12 6-1 6-2; N. LI (CHN) [5 bt O. Govortsova (BLR) 6-2 6-2