After a soggy morning gave way to a brilliant,if breezy,afternoon at the United States Open,several players in Tuesdays early first-round matches wasted no time getting on and off the court to perhaps enjoy the rest of the afternoon.
No. 2 seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland needed just 54 minutes to dispatch Nina Bratchikova of Russia,6-1 6-1,giving the early Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd very little to focus on.
Radwanska,though,said the conditions were not as placid as they looked. The wind,always a challenge at Ashe Stadium,was particularly gusty. Conditions this year are very tough,especially the last few days were very humid, Radwanska said. Yesterday,raining and today humid again and windy.
Ana Ivanovic,the 12th seed,needed 1 hour 10 minutes to stave off any challenge from Elina Svitolina of Ukraine,6-3,6-2. And in a match of unseeded players,Sofia Arvidsson of Sweden took 66 minutes for her 6-4 6-2 defeat of Kimiko Date-Krumm of Japan.
Kim Clijsters,the three-time United States Open champion,remained calm in the moment as the crowd inside Arthur Ashe Stadium cheered on a young American player it had probably never seen before. Victoria Duval,playing in her first Open,had surprised the fans by winning three consecutive games to lead Clijsters in the first set,3-2.
Before the match Clijsters,29,joked that she was almost twice as old as the 16-year-old Duval,who said she hardly slept on the eve of the Open. But Clijsters had her own nerves to overcome. She knew this was the final tournament of her career. Clijsters settled down,found her rhythm and eventually figured out Duval to win,6-3 6-1,in the first round. It was a special occasion for her,but she did well, Clijsters said. I was nervous maybe just as much as she was. It doesnt get any easier the longer you play.
Clijsters,who missed last years Open with an abdominal injury,extended her winning streak in the tournament to 22 matches. It was very disappointing for me last year to not defend my title, said Clijsters,who had won the Open the previous two years,and also in 2005. Its an honor to be playing in front of this crowd this year.
A few of the mens matches seemed set to become more grinding affairs,including Ivo Karlovic of Croatia facing the qualifier Jimmy Wang of Taiwan. Their first two sets went to a tiebreaker,with Wang winning the first,7-6 (4),and Karlovic winning the second,7-6 (8).
And the 15th seed,Milos Raonic of Canada,was going to need a long match to get through the first round after losing the second and third sets to Santiago Giraldo of Colombia after winning the first. Raonic,21,did rally to win the fourth set to force a decisive fifth. No. 6 seed Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic made relatively quick work of David Goffin of Belgium in a 7-5 6-3 6-3 victory.
Roger Federer was his effortless self in the first round. He was never threatened as he dismantled Donald Young,6-3 6-2 6-4,to stretch his record in Open night matches to 22-0. It makes a lot of fun, Federer said of playing at night. It is a lot of pressure since Im going out as the big favourite to win.
Federers play was swift,his backhand winners crushing. After winning his seventh Wimbledon singles title,Federer,31,has regained his stature as the No. 1-ranked player in the world. For the 22-year-old Young,this season has been disastrous. He had lost 17 consecutive matches and was ranked 81st entering the Open.
Devvarman crashes out
Somdev Devvarman,playing only his second match after returning from a shoulder surgery,put up a spirited fight before losing the first round to Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo of Spain. Somdev lost 3-6 2-6 6-3 4-6 to his Spanish rival,ranked 94.
Leander Paes and his Czech partner Radek Stepanek have been seeded fifth and they open their campaign against German pair of Dustin Brown and Christopher Kas. Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna are seeded eighth and they will open their campaign against Australias Matthew Ebden and young Bernard Tomic.
In the womens doubles,Sania Mirza and her American partner Bethanie Mattek-Sands have been seeded 13th and they are up against Italys Alberta Brianti and Romanias Sorana Cirstea.
Sharapova reveals comic self
Maria Sharapova turned comedian after a convincing start to her US Open title campaign when she revealed her build-up had been affected by a “pregnancy” scare. The Russian was forced to miss events in Montreal and Cincinnati earlier this month because of a stomach bug. “I had some tests done,some blood-work,some ultrasound stuff,” Sharapova told reporters after her 6-2 6-2 win over Melinda Czink of Hungary. “They said I should just probably rest. I just went home and took Cincinnati off as well. I think it was just a sign that I needed a few weeks off. It was really weird. They told me I was fine,not pregnant. I’m like,Can I get my money back?” “It was worse when I got to Montreal,” the third seed said. “At the end of the day,I think it was some stomach bug. But I thought it was getting better. Then I started eating like the normal Maria and it wasn’t better.
Li Nas change of staff,fortune
Chinese superstar Li Na has a new man in her life and her husband couldnt be happier. Ever since Li linked up with Justine Henins former coach,Carlos Rodriguez her career has been reinvigorated with a runner-up spot in Montreal followed by a title in Cincinnati. The success meant an end to her on-off coaching relationship with husband Jiang Shan. After I got a new coach I think for both me and my husband its much easier, said Li after easing past Briton Heather Watson 6-2 6-3 in the first round. Love is love; coach is coach. You have to separate. After I changed the coach,I didnt say my husband didnt do a good job. I think hes still doing good job. But for both sometimes its too much,you know. Like its really tough to find a balance between coaching and husband.
James Blake raises drugs bogie
Tennis,like other sports,was bound to have some players using performance-enhancing drugs,American James Blake said on Monday,but he felt authorities were doing all they could to ensure the sport was as clean as possible. Im sure there are guys who are doing it,getting away with it,and getting ahead of the testers, Blake said after defeating Lukas Lacko 7-6 6-2 3-6 6-3 on Monday. “Its unfortunate,but I hope tennis is doing the best job of trying to catch those guys trying to beat the system.