Maria Sharapova and Novak Djokovic won in straight sets on Day 1 of the U.S. Open, while another former champion had a far more challenging first-round match at the season’s final Grand Slam tennis tournament.
Andy Murray, the 2012 U.S. Open winner from Britain, overcame cramps throughout his body to beat Robin Haase of the Netherlands in a four-set match the No. 8 seed said he was “very close to losing.” Haase entered the tournament with one win in four previous U.S. Open appearances.
“It was unexpected and therefore quite difficult mentally to deal with,” Murray, 27, said after his 6-3, 7-6 (8-6), 1-6, 7-5 win. “Sometimes it can happen in one area of your body. But when it starts to kind of go everywhere, you don’t know exactly where it’s going to creep up next.”
Sharapova, the 2006 champion, improved to 17-0 in night matches at New York’s National Tennis Center by beating fellow Russian Maria Kirilenko 6-4, 6-0. Sharapova, 27, who’s seeded fifth in the women’s draw after missing last year’s U.S. Open with a right shoulder injury, won the final 10 games.
Djokovic, 27, the men’s top seed, breezed past Diego Schwartzman of Argentina 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 in last night’s final match in Arthur Ashe Stadium. The 2011 champion, Djokovic lost in last year’s final to Rafael Nadal of Spain, who is unable to defend his title because of a wrist injury.
“I’m very pleased. It’s never easy to start a U.S. Open smoothly,” Djokovic said in a televised on-court interview following his match, which ended about 10 minutes before midnight. “But I love playing night sessions.”
Five-time champions Roger Federer and Serena Williams are in action tonight in Arthur Ashe Stadium. Federer, the men’s No. 2 seed from Switzerland, meets Australia’s Marinko Matosevic, whom he beat 6-1, 6-1 in their only previous match, earlier this year in Brisbane, Australia. Williams, the women’s top seed, opens defense of her back-to-back titles against fellow American Taylor Townsend.
John Isner, the tournament’s highest-seeded American man at No. 13, plays his opening match this afternoon. Fourth-seeded David Ferrer of Spain and No. 10 Kei Nishikori of Japan are also on the schedule.
Other top seeds in the women’s draw on today’s schedule include No. 3 Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic, No. 7 Eugenie Bouchard of Canada and No. 8 Ana Ivanovic of Serbia.
Stan Wawrinka, the men’s No. 3 seed from Switzerland who won the 2014 Australian Open, topped Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic in straight sets yesterday. Fifth seed Milos Raonic of Canada also won in three sets and No. 9 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France needed four sets to oust Argentina’s Juan Monaco.
Mikhail Youzhny was the highest-ranked men’s player to lose on Day 1, as the No. 21 seed from Russia was ousted in four sets by Nick Kyrgios of Australia. No. 24 Julien Benneteau was eliminated in five sets by fellow Frenchman Benoit Paire.
No. 2 women’s seed Simona Halep of Romania recovered to beat U.S. college singles champion Danielle Collins 6-7 (2-7), 6-1, 6-2 yesterday. Halep, 22, who lost this year’s French Open final to Sharapova and reached the semifinals at Wimbledon, needed one hour, 58 minutes to get past Grand Slam tournament newcomer Collins, who’s unranked by the WTA Tour and reached a career high of 553 in June 2012.
“I had a really good experience taking a set off the No. 2 ranked girl in the world,” said Collins, a 20-year-old junior who will be back at the University of Virginia today for the first day of classes. “There are a lot of positive things to take from it. It can only go up from here for me.”
Venus Williams, the U.S. Open champion in 2000 and 2001 and the 19th seed this year, defeated Kimiko Date-Krumm of Japan 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 in a matchup of the two oldest women in the tournament. Williams, an American, is 34. Date-Krumm is 43.
No. 4 seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland lost only one game in defeating Canada’s Sharon Fichman, while Angelique Kerber, the No. 6 seed from Germany, fought past Russian qualifier Ksenia Pervak 6-2, 3-6, 7-5.
Sharapova recovered from 4-2 down in the first set last night to improve to 42-3 in first-round Grand Slam matches, with one of those losses having come against Kirilenko at the 2010 Australian Open.
“It was a tough opening match for me,” Sharapova said in a televised on-court interview. “But I was happy that I was able to step it up and finish well.”
Murray, playing yesterday’s second match in Louis Armstrong Stadium, said he began to feel discomfort during the third set and also felt pain in his upper and lower body.
“I just tried to hang on,” Murray said. “There were parts of that match that weren’t particularly pretty, but it’s nice to get through.”