Monday, August 31, 2015

U.S. Open Day 1 recap: 2014 runner-up ousted

Fourth-seeded Kei Nishikori, the runner-up in last
year's U.S. Open, lost to Benoit Paire of France
today in the first round at Flushing Meadows.
2015 file photo by Paul Bauman
   NEW YORK -- Serena Williams had a short night at the U.S. Open.
   Kei Nishkori had a short stay.
   The top-ranked Williams, bidding for the first calendar-year Grand Slam since 1988, led Vitalia Diatchenko 6-0, 2-0 when the 25-year-old Russian retired with an ankle injury in the first of tonight's two matches at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
   Williams won 32 of the 37 points in the 27-minute match. Diatchenko, ranked 86th, had her left foot and ankle taped in the first set.
   Next for Williams on Wednesday is qualifier Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands. 
   During the hot, humid day session, the fourth-seeded Nishikori fell to Benoit Paire of France 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 7-6 (6), 6-4 at Louis Armstrong Stadium. Nishikori, last year's runner-up to Marin Cilic, squandered two match points in the fourth set.
   Meanwhile, top-seeded Novak Djokovic, seeking his second U.S. Open title but first since 2011, crushed Joao Souza of Brazil 6-1, 6-1, 6-1.
   Six women's seeds lost, including three in the top 10: No. 7 Ana Ivanovic of Serbia, No. 8 Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic and No. 10 Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain.
   Ivanovic fell 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 to Dominika Cibulkova, who avenged an opening-round loss to 15-year-old CiCi Bellis of Atherton in the San Francisco Bay Area in last year's U.S. Open.
   Also losing today was No. 30 Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 2004 U.S. Open champion from Russia, 6-3, 7-5 to Kristina Mladenovic of France.
   Another former U.S. Open champ from Russia, third-seeded Maria Sharapova, withdrew on Sunday with a right leg muscle strain that has sidelined her since Wimbledon.
   The highest remaining seed other than Williams in her half of the draw is No. 12 Belinda Bencic of Switzerland. They could meet in the quarterfinals. Bencic, 18, handed Williams her second loss of the year en route to the Toronto title two weeks ago. 
   Men's seeded winners -- No. 1 Novak Djokovic, No. 7 David Ferrer, No. 8 Rafael Nadal, No. 9 Cilic, No. 10 Milos Raonic, No. 14 David Goffin, No. 17 Grigor Dimitrov, No. 18 Feliciano Lopez, No. 19 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, No. 23 Roberto Bautista-Agut, No. 25 Andreas Seppi, No. 26 Tommy Robredo, No. 27 Jeremy Chardy, No. 32 Fabio Fognini.
   Men's seeded losers -- No. 4 Nishikori, No. 16 Gael Monfils. 
   Women's seeded winners -- No. 1 Serena Williams (three-time defending champion), No. 12 Bencic, No. 13 Ekaterina Makarova, No. 15 Agnieszka Radwanska, No. 17 Elina Svitolina, No. 19 Madison Keys, No. 23 Venus Williams, No. 25 Eugenie Bouchard, No. 31 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
   Women's seeded losers -- No. 7 Ivanovic, No. 8 Pliskova, No. 10 Suarez Navarro, No. 21 Jelena Jankovic, No. 29 Sloane Stephens, No. 30 Kuznetsova.
   Stars and stripes -- U.S. women went 10-5, including two all-American matches. Anna Tatishvili, a native of Georgia in Asia who became a U.S. citizen last year, whipped Pliskova 6-2, 6-1. The 6-foot-1 (1.86-meter) Pliskova, 23, has never advanced past the third round in a Grand Slam tournament.
   U.S. men went 1-4. The only victory came from 33-year-old Mardy Fish, who will retire after the tournament. The former world No. 7 has battled an irregular heartbeat and severe anxiety for the past three years.
   Fast fact -- Nishikori became the first U.S. Open men's finalist from the previous year to lose in the first round since 1999.
   Northern California connection -- Pliskova reached the final of the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford this month, losing to Angelique Kerber of Germany but cracking the top 10 for the first time. 
   Australia's John Millman, who won the Aptos Challenger three weeks ago, lost to Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (3), 6-4. Stakhovsky stunned Roger Federer in the second round at Wimbledon two years ago, ending the Swiss' streak of Grand Slam quarterfinals at 36.
   Quote -- Djokovic: "With a dominant win like the one today, it adds to your confidence, your self-belief. But it's also making a statement for everybody that is out there watching. We are all watching each other's matches. We are all seeing how each other progresses. It's important you're out on the court with the right intensity and you're sending a good message, and I've done so.”
   Tuesday at Arthur Ashe Stadium -- Day session (beginning at 8 a.m. PDT, streaming on ESPN3 from 8 to 10 a.m., then shown on ESPN): Simona Halep (2) vs. Marina Erakovic, Caroline Wozniacki (4) vs. Jamie Loeb, Roger Federer vs. Leonardo Mayer.
   Night session (beginning at 4 p.m. PDT, ESPN): Andy Murray (3) vs. Nick Kyrgios, Petra Kvitova (5) vs.Laura Siegemund.

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