US Open 2016 Day 1 Recap: Garbine Muguruza, Rafael Nadal Advance, Novak Djokovic Wins Amid Arm Concerns
The 2016 US Open began on Monday, with the biggest names in tennis taking the main stage at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York.
US Open 2016 Day 1 Recap: Garbine Muguruza, Rafael Nadal Advance, Novak Djokovic Win
Garbine Muguruza, the 2016 French Open champion, fought back from a slow start in the opening set to defeat Belgian qualifier Elise Mertens, ranked at 137, 2-6, 6-0, 6-3. Following the match, the 22-year-old Venezuelan-born Spaniard said the heat affected her play in the first set.
“I started and it was difficult a little bit to breathe for me. It was really humid….When you feel the heat that makes you a little bit, like, down kind of,” Muguruza said. “Today in the warmup I didn’t feel it. It’s only half an hour in a warmup…But as soon as I started the match moving and running, also with the competition makes you more tense…I went to the court and I didn’t really know the opponent. You play and you do your stuff. You kind of see a little bit during the match how she plays, but you cannot know anything before.”
She also told the court-side crowd that it would take a miracle for her to reach the final. Muguruza upset world number one Serena Williams to win Roland Garros in Paris in June.
The Spanish star needed court-side treatment from a doctor, however, after losing the first set on the Louis Armstrong Court. She seemed to be fine following the consultation and cruised to earn the first-round victory.
Muguruza next faces Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia for a place in the last 32.
Meanwhile, No. 4-seed Rafael Nadal also advanced after defeating Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin 6-1, 6-4, 6-2. The 30-year-old Spaniard looked in-shape and healthy in his first Grand Slam match since withdrawing in the third round at the French Open. After pulling out of Roland Garros, Nadal skipped Wimbledon to continue healing his left wrist and he returned to action earlier this month at the Rio Olympics. There, he lost in the bronze medal match in singles to Japan’s Kei Nishikori, and won the gold in doubles with partner Marc Lopez.
“You need to find what’s the motivation of yourself for everything, no? For me personally, Olympics is the closest thing to a Grand Slam,” Nadal said regarding his decision to return to action in Rio. “It’s not easy to go two months-and-a-half out of competition in the middle of the season without hitting a forehand. I need to have the confidence again with my wrist. That is coming, because I feel the wrist much better, and every day feel that the wrist a little bit better.”
The Spaniard, who fell to Fabio Fognini in the third round at the U.S. Open last year, will face Italian Andreas Seppi in the second round on Wednesday.
Former World No. 1 and two-time U.S. Open finalist Caroline Wozniacki finished off American Taylor Townsend in two hours and 12 minutes on the new Grandstand Court. Now ranked No. 74, Wozniacki will play No. 9-seed Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia in the next round.
This year’s Australian Open champion and No. 2-seed Angelique Kerber was only on court for 33 minutes—and up 6-0, 1-0—when her opponent, Slovenian Polona Hercog, retired in the second set. The German advances to the second round where she’ll face Croatia’s Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, who defeated France’s Alize Cornet 6-4, 6-1.
World number one Novak Djokovic, meanwhile, defeated Poland’s Jerzy Janowicz, although the 29-year-old Serb required treatment to his arm.
Djokovic, who has struggled with a left wrist injury, won 6-3 5-7 6-2 6-1 after calling the trainer in the first set for a medical timeout.
The Serb, the 2015 US Open champion, had spoken ahead of his opening match about the left wrist injury that has hampered him since the Rio Olympics, but it was the right arm that appeared to be troubling him against Janowicz.
He goes on to face Jiri Vesely in round two – the Czech who beat him in Monte Carlo earlier this year.
On calling for the medical timeout, the Serb said: “It was just prevention. It’s all good. It’s getting better and better each day.
“Hopefully as the tournament progresses, I’ll reach my peak.
“There are periods when you’re not feeling 100% but I don’t think it’s necessary to talk about this now. I’m just glad to come through this day and let’s keep on moving.”
PARIS, FRANCE – JUNE 01: Garbine Muguruzu of Spain hits a backhand during the Ladies Singles quarter final against Shelby Rogers of the United States on day eleven of the 2016 French Open at Roland Garros on June 1, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images)