(Corrects Roddick’s opponent to Michael Russell in fourth paragraph. For today’s U.S. Open schedule, click here.}
Venus Williams’s quest for a third U.S. Open title ended with a withdrawal on a day fellow Americans Christina McHale and Irina Falconi had upset wins and Andy Roddick fought through his tournament opener.
Williams, the 2000 and 2001 champion, said she was diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome, a condition that causes fatigue and joint pain and that limited her to three previous tournaments this year.
Williams withdrew yesterday before her second-round match against No. 22 seed Sabine Lisicki of Germany. Her departure leaves the season’s final major without a player who has been one of the faces of women’s tennis for 15 years, winning nine Grand Slam singles titles.
“I was surprised, we saw her the other night and she looked good,” said Roddick, who moved into the second round with a 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 win over fellow American Michael Russell. “I’m very concerned. If Venus isn’t playing at the U.S. Open, it has to be serious. It isn’t because she’s sneezing too much.”
Williams said today on ABC’s “Good Morning America” that the diagnosis ended months of worry over a condition that affected her play.
“I would miss shots by feet,” she said. “I couldn’t feel my hands and my hands would hurt while I was playing. I’d have swelling and numbness and then fatigue, which was really debilitating.”
With Williams, 31, unable to play, McHale and Falconi demonstrated why they may be the future of American tennis.
McHale, a 19-year-old from Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, beat No. 8 Marion Bartoli of France 7-6 (7-2), 6-2 on the grandstand court at the National Tennis Center in New York. Falconi, 21, followed with a 2-6, 6-3, 7-5 win over 14th-seeded Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia.
“There’s a lot of young American players right now that are kind of all pushing each other, so I think it’s exciting,” said McHale, who is ranked 55th by the WTA Tour and beat No. 1- ranked Caroline Wozniacki this month. McHale will play 25th- seeded Maria Kirilenko of Russia in the third round, while Falconi meets Lisicki.
Venus Williams’s sister, Serena, is back in action today, with a second-round match against Michaella Krajicek of the Netherlands. A three-time U.S. Open winner, Serena Williams has never lost before the third round in 11 previous appearances at the tournament and is 2-0 against Krajicek.
Top seeds Wozniacki of Denmark and Novak Djokovic of Serbia headline tonight’s evening session. Wozniacki faces Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands, while Djokovic takes on Carlos Berlocq of Argentina.
Mardy Fish, at No. 8 the highest-seeded American in the men’s draw, plays against Malek Jaziri of Tunisia.
Venus Williams, who came into the tournament unseeded for the first time since 1997, said she was disappointed about having to withdraw. Her condition, which before a first-round win had kept her out since Wimbledon, affects between 400,000 and 3.1 million people, according to the American College of Rheumatology’s website.
“I am thankful I finally have a diagnosis and am now focused on getting better and returning to the court soon,” Williams said in a statement.
Brothers Mike and Bob Bryan of the U.S. are also headed home after suffering their earliest exit from a Grand Slam tournament in 10 years. The top seeds and defending men’s doubles champions lost 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 to Croatian Ivo Karlovic and Frank Moser of Germany.
The Bryans won the Wimbledon and the Australian Open doubles titles this year. They were beaten in the third round at the 2006 U.S. Open and last lost in the first round of a Grand Slam at the 2001 Australian Open.
“We’re used to being in the second week,” Mike Bryan told reporters. “It’s going to be weird.”
Roddick knocked out one American to set up a match against another in 18-year-old Jack Sock, the 2010 U.S. Open boys’ champion. Sock won in four sets yesterday against 33-year-old Marc Gicquel of France, who was the oldest player in the men’s draw.
“I like Jack a lot,” said Roddick, who turned 29 two days ago and, like Sock, grew up in Nebraska. “He’s a little bit like an 18-year-old I knew once upon a time. I’ll take on the young American. I’ll enjoy it.”
Andy Murray, the No. 4 seed from Britain, beat India’s Somdev Devvarman 7-6 (7-5), 6-2, 6-3 in the first round. Murray, the 2008 U.S. Open runner-up, reached the final of the Australian Open this year and the semifinals of the French Open and Wimbledon.
Sixth-seeded Robin Soderling of Sweden withdrew before his first-round match yesterday because of a viral infection.
Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina, the No. 18 seed and 2009 U.S. Open champion, dropped five games in his win over Filippo Volandri of Italy. John Isner of the U.S. won in four sets, while No. 12 Gilles Simon of France needed five sets to get past Ricardo Mello of Brazil. Nicolas Almagro, the 10th seed from Spain, lost in straight sets to Julien Benneteau, a wild card qualifier from France.
Vera Zvonareva, the No. 2 seed from Russia who was runner- up last year, beat Ukrainian Kateryna Bondarenko 7-5, 3-6, 6-3. Maria Sharapova of Russia, the third seed and 2006 U.S. Open winner, eased into the third round with a straight-set win over Anastasiya Yakimova of Belarus.
Ninth-seeded Samantha Stosur of Australia, No. 13 Peng Shuai of China and No. 19 Julia Goerges of Germany also won in straight sets, while No. 12 Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland lost to Angelique Kerber of Germany.
Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium, seeded 20th, pulled out after trailing Alla Kudryavtseva of Russia 6-1, 3-0.
American Madison Keys, at 16 the youngest player in the women’s draw, failed to capitalize on a one-set lead against No. 27 seed Lucie Safarova, falling 3-6, 7-5, 6-4.
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