By Romi Cvitkovic
With the absence of Rafael Nadal giving the men’s draw a shakeup, many were expecting early upsets and surprise winners on the men’s side, but it was several seeded women who went crashing out today in the first round. Check out this and other big headlines from Day One of the U.S. Open below, including Andy Murray, Sorana Cirstea, Jack Sock, Petra Kvitova, Roger Federer, and Brits Laura Robson and Heather Watson.
Andy Murray struggles more than scoreline reveals
In what turned out to be a closer match than anyone anticipated, Murray struggled getting his rhythm early on against Alex Bogomolov, Jr. with four breaks of serve to start the match. He eventually prevailed 6-2, 6-4, 6-1, but his 28% first serve percentage made it very touch-and-go in the first set. He began cramping in his left leg after running down a dropshot in the third set, and admitted that he was “struggling a bit” with the wind, humidity and cramping, and needed to “better hydrate” for his next match.
Upon winning match point, there was not even the hint of contentment in his demeanor, and it was obvious he was not satisfied with the way he played. If he expects to go far, he’ll have to get his mental game in order … and drink more fluids.
Jack Sock outplaying his No. 243 ranking
Defending US Open mixed doubles champion, 19-year-old Sock almost had the biggest win of his career, but instead he’s into the second round when his opponent No. 22 seed Florian Mayer retired due to dizziness, 6-3, 6-2, 3-2 ret. Breaking the typically hard-hitting Mayer with his immense serving, Sock bombed his fastest serve at 134 MPH, and hit 34 winners to Mayer’s 8. Mayer was clearly not on top of his game, but Sock did everything right: held his serve, approached the net, and won several Hawkeye challenges in a row.
I had Sock as my “upset of a seeded player” pick last week, even venturing so far as to say he could easily make the third or fourth round. That seems to be all reality now instead of a distant vision.
Giant-killer Sorana Cirstea stuns Sabine Lisicki
If you know women’s tennis, it’s really not that big of a stretch to see Cirstea win this matchup. For those not familiar, Cirstea took out several top players this year already: world No. 7 Sam Stosur in the first round of the Australian Open, No. 11 Marion Bartoli in Madrid, and No. 8 Na Li in the second round of Wimbledon. The 22-year-old Romanian seems to do her best damage at Slams, but has failed to capitalize on the US Open — her best showing being the third round back in 2009. With the surprise takedown of Julia Goerges by Kristyna Pliskova today, Cirstea’s 1/8 has opened wide up, giving her a clear path to a fourth round matchup against No. 1 seed Victoria Azarenka.
Roger Federer gives Donald Young some space
In what was supposed to be a straight-forward opener for Federer, the Swiss Maestro allowed Young to win nine games. It’s unacceptable for a guy that only recently broke a 17-match winning streak to take more than the equivalent of one set from the “King of Tennis.” Sure, it’s just the first round and players tend to have the worst nerves then because anything can happen, but Young won 39% of all points played! Federer needs to stop these shenanigans and get it into gear next round. Oh, and Federer is now 22-0 for all US Open night matches played. No pressure.
Petra Kvitova burning out
Not a fan of the humidity of North America, Kvitova recently got a new inhaler and it seemed to be doing the trick for the summer hardcourt season: Montreal title, Cincinnati semifinals, and New Haven title over the weekend. But all the tennis and travelling has been catching up to her, as she was forced to a first set tiebreak against No. 65 Polona Hercog which she barely won. With her movement and energy clearly hampered, she would be lucky to make it to the fourth round against Marion Bartoli. And don’t even think about seeing Sharapova in the quarterfinals. Sorry.
Young British women split successes
The younger of the two, Laura Robson, hit a bit of luck as she drew 17-year-old newbie Samantha Crawford in the first round. Her compatriot Heather Watson, however, drew world No. 8 Na Li. Robson struggled with her serve hitting under 50% and only converted on three-of-nine break points. But she used grit and prevailed in the second set tiebreak finally winning 6-3, 7-6(6). Watson wasn’t so lucky. Li came out firing on all cylinders, keeping Watson to only five total games. The take-away from both British youngster? There’s still time to develop, but those serves are really hindering you. Robson will get her reward in the form of a second round matchup with Kim Clijsters.