On an action packed opening day in the first grand slam of the year, World number one and 2009 champion Rafael Nadal breezed into the second round in the opening match of the night session on the Rod Laver Arena. He was joined by local hope Nick Kyrgios, winner of the warm up event in Brisbane, the Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, seeded third, and the sixth seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia, the 2014 U.S. Open champion. Five seeded players though bit the dust while a few matches went the full distance.
Grigor Dimitrov, who won the season ending ATP Finals in London, was impressive in his 6-3,6-2,6-1 demolition of Denis Novak of Austria, a qualifier ranked 226 in the world. That was in the last match of the day session on Rod Laver Arena. Rafael Nadal played the opening match in the night session and wasted little time as he routed the 79th ranked Victor Estrella Burgos of the Dominican Republic, 6-1,6-1,6-1. Kyrgios, seeded seventeen, beat Brazil’s Rogerio Dutra Silva, ,6-1,6-2,6-4.
Cilic dropped a set before prevailing against the qualifier Vasek Pospisil of Canada, 6-2,6-2,4-6,7-6(5). Former finalists, Jo Wilfred Tsonga, seeded 15th, was a 6-4,6-4,6-1 winner of qualifier Kevin King of U.S.A., while the 2006 runner up Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus beat another qualifier Yuki Bhambri of India 7-6(4),6-4,6-3.
The highest seed to fall was the American Jack Sock, seeded ninth, who lost to Japan’s Yuichi Sugita, 1-6,6-7(4),7-5,3-6. The South African Kevin Anderson, seeded 12th and the losing finalist in Flushing Meadows, suffered a five set loss to the talented Englishman Kyle Edmund 7-6(4),3-6,6-3,3-6,4-6. Another American to fall was the perennial underachiever John Isner, seeded 16th, beaten by the Aussie Matthew Ebden 4-6,6-3,3-6,3-6.
Frenchman Lucas Pouille, who won the decisive fifth rubber against Belgium to help France win the Davis Cup, was once again beaten in the first round for the second year in a row as the 18th seed was beaten by another Belgian Ruben Bemelmans, 4-6,4-6,7-6(4),6-7(6). The veteran Phillipp Kohlschreiber of Germany, seeded 29th, lost to Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka 3-6,6-2,0-6,6-1,2-6.
Other players to advance were Canada’s Denis Shapovalov, Eleventh seeded Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain, Giles Muller of Luxembourg, Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay, Giles Simon of France who won the ATP 250 event in Pune, India. However the veteran David Ferrer was beaten by the rising Russian Alexander Rublev in five sets. Damir Dzumhur came from two sets down to beat the Italian Paolo Lorenzi. Casper Ruud of Norway and the Argentine Diego Schwartman won 11-9 in the fifth set against the Frenchman Quentin Halys and the Serb Dusan Lajovic respectively.
American Ryan Harrison who was the runner up in Brisbane, veteran Croat Ivo Karlovic, Andreas Seppi of Italy, Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov, Brazilian Joao Sousa, Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan who had ended the run of Novak Djokovic in the second round last year in Melbourne, Argentine Leonardo Mayer, Serbia’s Victor Troicki, the Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili, Australian John Millman and the Tunisian Malek Jaziri who came from two sets down against the Italian Salvatore Caruso before prevailing 6-3 in the first set in what was the last match to be completed on Opening day.
Following is the list of matches involving the seeds on Day Two with my pick mentioned first :
Roger Federer (2) v. Aljaz Bedene (-)
Alexander Zverev (4) v. Thomas Fabbiano (-)
Novak Djokovic (14) v. Donald Young (-)
Juan Martin Del Potro (12) v. Frances Tiafoe (-)
Stanislas Wawrinka (9) v. Ricardas Berankis (-)
Tomas Berdych (19) v. Alex De Minaur (-)
Milos Raonic (22) v. Lucas Lacko (-)
Dominic Thiem (5) v. Guido Pella (-)
David Goffin (7) v. Matthias Bachinger (-)
Roberto Bautista Agut (20) v. Fernando Verdasco (-)
Fabio Fognini (25) v. Horacio Zaballos (-)
Richard Gasquet (29) v. Blaz Kavcic (-)
Sam Querrey (13) v. Feliciano Lopez (-)
Adrian Mannarino (26) v. Matteo Berrettini (-)
Hyeon Chung v. Mischa Zverev (32)
Albert Ramos-Vinolas(21) v. Jared Donaldson (-)
In the women’s section of the draw, the fifth seeded American Venus Williams, was surprisingly beaten by the Swiss Belinda Bencic 6-3,7-5. No problems though for the French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko who beat a former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone 6-1,6-4 in the opening match of the tournament. Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki, seeded second was a 6-2,6-3 winner over Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania. Ukrainian Elina Svitolina, seeded fourth beat the Serbian Ivana Jorovic 6-3,6-2.
Players to advance on Day 1 include the Australian Daria Gavrilova, the Olympic Gold medalist Monica Puig who beat the 2011 U.S. Open champion Samantha Stosur, Julia Goerges of Germany, Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia, the Russians Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Daria Kasatkina, and the Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens.
The U.S. Open Sloane Stephens continued her poor form as she lost to China’s Shuai Zheng 2-6,7-6(2),2-6. Coco Vandeweghe was upset by the Hungarian Timea Babos 6-7(4),2-6. The Estonian Kaia Kanepi beat Dominica Cibulkova 6-2,6-2. Russian Ekaterina Makarova fell to 6-8 in the third set to the Romanian Irina-camelia Begu. Shuai Peng of China lost 2-6,2-6 to the Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: sportzcosmos@]