The favorites for the last grand slam of the year have advanced safely into the second round at the Flushing Meadows in New York. Top seed and defending champion Novak Djokovic, the 2012 champion Andy Murray, two time champion Rafael Nadal and two time grand slam winner Stanislas Wawrinka all won comfortably but the most satisfying win was for the 2009 champion Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina who missed the last two edition of the Open battling wrist surgeries.
The Olympic Silver medalist in Rio earlier this month, Del Potro had snapped the 40 match winning streak of five time champion Roger Federer in the 2009 final which went the distance, to claim his maiden Grandslam trophy. He made his first appearance in three years on the Louis Armstrong stadium on Tuesday where he beat the 69th ranked fellow Argentine Diego Schwartzman 6-4, 6-4, 7-6(3). He now goes on to meet the highest ranked American Steve Johnson who overcame a two set deficit to beat the Russian Evgeny Donskoy 4-6, 1-6, 7-6(2), 6-3, 6-3 in a match lasting three hours and twelve minutes.
The 2011 and 2015 champion Novak Djokovic got a decent test in his first round win over Poland’s Jerzy Janowicz 6-3, 5-7, 6-2, 6-1 in 2 hours and 37 minutes. Djokovic has captured seven titles in 2016, including a sixth Australian Open and his maiden Roland Garros title. He now plays one of the only five men who have beaten him this year.
Jiri Vesley, who had defeated the World No.1 in the second round on the clay courts of Monte Carlo, withstood a spirited challenge from the lone Indian in the draw, qualifier Saketh Myneni in three hours and forty seven minutes to claim a hard fought five set win 7-6(5), 4-6, 2-6, 6-2, 7-5. There were no such problems for the 2010 and 2013 champion Rafael Nadal of Spain who beat Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 and the 2014 champion Marin Cilic of Croatia who beat the Brazilian Rogerio Dutra Silva 6-4, 7-5, 6-1.
In the bottom half of the draw, Stanislas Wawrinka , the top Swiss in the absence of Roger Federer, defeated Spanish veteran Fernando Verdasco 7-6(4), 6-4, 6-4 and the second seeded Andy Murray, the Wimbledon and Olympic champion made short work of Lucas Rosol of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 in the night session on Tuesday.
The 2014 finalist Kei Nishikori took four sets to beat the German Benjamin Becker, while the promising Austrian Dominic Thiem prevailed in five sets against the Australian John Millman. There were straight sets wins for Milos Raonic, Grigor Dmitrov and the Frenchmen Jo Wilfred Tsonga and Giles Simon.
However the biggest casualty so far was another Frenchman Richard Gasquet, the thirteenth seed went down 2-6, 2-6, 3-6 to the British Davis Cup player Kyle Edmund. Americans Jack Sock and John Isner went through in five sets against fellow Americans Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe respectively.
Following is the list of matches in the second round to be played on Wednesday in the top half with my pick mentioned first:-
Novak Djokovic (1) v. Jiri Vesley
Guido Pella v. Mikhail Youzhny
John Isner v. Steve Darcis
Kyle Edmund v. Ernesto Escobedo
Jo Wilfred Tsonga (9) v. James Duckworth
Kevin Anderson v. Vasek Pospisil
Jack Sock (26) v. Mischa Zverev
Marin Cilic (7) v. Sergiy Stakhovsky
Rafael Nadal (4) v. Andreas Seppi
Albert Ramos Vinolas v. Andrey Kuznetsov
Lucas Pouille (24) v. Marco Chiudinelli
Roberto Bautista Agut (15) v. Frederico Delbonis
Gael Monfils (10) v. Jan Satral
Pablo Cuevas (18) v. Nicolas Almagro
Benoit Paire (32) v. Marcos Baghdatis
Milos Raonic (5) v. Ryan Harrison
In the women’s section of the draw, Serena Williams who is looking for her 23rd grand slam title that would give sole possession of the maximum number of majors won, beat the Russian Ekaterina Makarova 6-3, 6-3. However the 32nd seeded Monica Puig who won the gold medal in Rio was upset by Saisai Zheng of China 6-4, 6-2.
The other top women advancing into the second round were the Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber, Simona Halep who had the Romanian gymnastic sensation Nadia Comaneci court side, five time champion Venus Williams, two time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, Roberta Vinci who upset Serena in the semi final last year, French Open champion Garbine Muguruza, Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska and the promising American teenager Madison Keys.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: firstname.lastname@example.org]