Nadal, Djokovic Win at U.S. Open as Williams Sisters Advance

  • Former champions Nadal and Djokovic have first-round wins
  • Fourth-seeded Nishikori loses in five sets on first day

Rafael Nadal moved into the second round of the U.S. Open with a four-set win against Borna Coric, avenging a loss to the 18-year-old Croatian in their only previous meeting.

The eighth-seeded Nadal, a two-time champion who has his lowest U.S. Open ranking since 2004, was a 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 winner over Coric in Monday’s final featured match at the National Tennis Center in New York. Top-seeded Novak Djokovic, another former champion, won in straight sets on the first day of play at the season’s final major tennis championship.

Nadal, a 29-year-old Spaniard who missed last year’s U.S. Open due to a right wrist injury, lost to Coric in straight sets in their lone previous meeting in Switzerland in October 2014.

Serena Williams moved into the second round when her opponent, Russia’s Vitalia Diatchenko, retired with a leg injury after losing the first eight games of the match.

Williams, the three-time defending champion, was on the court for only a half hour and led 6-0, 2-0 when Diatchenko pulled out. Williams, 33, allowed only five points in the match as she began her quest to complete a sweep of all four tennis Grand Slam tournaments this year. 

Kei Nishikori was the first major upset loser of the tournament. The fourth seed on the men’s side lost in five sets to Benoit Paire a year after reaching the U.S. Open final. Nishikori wasted two match points during a fourth-set tiebreaker as Paire, a 26-year-old Frenchman who is ranked 41st on the ATP Tour, pulled out a 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 7-6 (8-6), 6-4 win at Louis Armstrong Stadium.

The last U.S. Open runner-up to lose in the opening round the following year was Andre Agassi, who fell to Aaron Krickstein in 1991, a year after dropping the final to Pete Sampras.

Nishikori, who lost the 2014 U.S. Open final to Marin Cilic, entered the match with his highest ranking for a Grand Slam tournament.

Nishikori served for the match at 6-4 in the fourth-set tiebreaker. Paire won the next four points to take the set and closed out the match with one service break in the fifth.

“Tiebreaks can go both ways, so maybe I lost a little bit of concentration, but he was hitting good serves, too,” Nishikori said at a news conference.

Cilic, seeded ninth this year, advanced in straight sets over qualifier Guido Pella of Argentina, winning 6-3, 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-3).

Gael Monfils of France, the 16th seed, withdrew from his match against Illya Marchenko of Ukraine due to a back injury. Tenth seed Milos Raonic of Canada won in straight sets while American Mardy Fish needed four sets to oust Marco Cecchinato of Italy.

The highest seed on the women’s side to lose Monday was No. 7 Ana Ivanovic of Serbia. The 2008 French Open winner fell 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 to Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia in the first match in Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Venus Williams, the two-time U.S. Open champion who is making her 17th appearance in the tournament, beat Monica Puig of Puerto Rico 6-4, 6-7 (7-9), 6-3. Williams is the No. 23 seed.

American women Madison Keys, Irina Falconi, Jessica Pegula, Anna Tatishvili, Madison Brengle and Lauren Davis also advanced to the second round.

(A previous version of this story incorrectly listed the third-set score in the Nishikori-Paire match.)

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