NEW YORK, August 27, 2019 (by Sharada Rajagopalan)
It was an exhilarating start to the 2019 US Open. Among the men, most of the seeded players came through even as some of the qualifiers – and a lucky loser – got past their higher-ranked opponents in the main draw.
Top seeds advance
The two highest seeds in the men’s top-half of the draw, World No. 1 Novak Djokovic of Serbia, and the World No. 3 Roger Federer of Switzerland took different paths to reach the second round.
“I think trying to forget the first set is never easy I guess in a first round, under the lights. People expect a different result. I expect something else,” Federer said. “I just wanted to pick up my game really, start to play better. I was able to do that. That was a relief, going up 3-Love in the second set, realising that it is on my racquet.”
Djokovic remains untroubled
Playing in the day session, the top-seeded Djokovic completed a routine win over Spain’s Roberto Carballes Baena. The defending champion won 6-4, 6-1, 6-4, eight minutes short of the two-hour mark. Following the win, the 32-year-old bettered his first-round performance at Flushing Meadows to 14-0.
Speaking to the press after his win, the three-time US Open champion said, “Getting out of the blocks took a little bit of time, but I was eventually able to capitalize in the big moments.”
Next up for Djokovic is Argentina’s Juan Ignacio Londero. Playing in his first US Open, Londero defeated the United States’ Sam Querrey 3-6, 6-1, 7-6(3), 7-5.
Meanwhile, in the evening session, things got out of hand for the five-time champion Federer before he made his way ahead against Indian qualifier Sumit Nagal. The Basel native won 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 in two and a half hours to close the opening day’s play at the Billie Jean National Tennis Center.
Although all eyes were on the 22-year-old who had wanted – and gotten – to play against Federer, the World No. 190 played with confidence and without being in awe of his opponent. Federer broke Nagal in the second game of the opening set but his misfiring shots set up plenty of opportunity for Nagal to capitalise. Federer’s erroneousness cost him a break in the ninth game of the set, following which Nagal served out the set to take a lead in the match.
Federer’s game improved in the second and third sets. He reined in his unforced-error count even as Nagal’s high-piling mistakes helped him secure four breaks of serve across the two sets. In the final set, Federer started mistiming yet again but recovered – enough to save four break points while serving for the match – to take what was a scrappy win.
Speaking to Brad Gilbert on-court after the match, Federer jokingly shrugged off the name-related punning between Nagal and his rival, Rafael Nadal. But in his press conference, the 20-time Grand Slam champion spoke highly of his opponent. “[It’s] never easy to come out and play your best. Even though it’s kind of what you live for, you dream about, playing on the big stage. So, I think he did that very well,” the 38-year-old said.
“I think he knows what he can bring. That’s why I think he’s going to have a very solid career. But, of course, it’s not the game that comes out with the biggest surprises. It’s really consistent. I think he did it very well tonight.”
Federer will play Bosnia’s Damir Dzumhur in the second round. Dzumhur defeated French qualifier Elliot Benchetrit 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-0.
Qualifiers who made the most
Of the 10 qualifiers who played on Monday, seven lost in the first round. Three, however, advanced to the round-of-64. These were France’s Gregoire Barrere, Germany’s Dominik Koepfer and US-American teenager Jenson Brooksby. Barrere defeated Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie 7-6(4), 6-4, 4-6, 6-7(5), 7-6(2). Koepfer defeated Spain’s Jaume Munar 6-4, 7-6(2), 5-7, 7-5. Lastly, Brooksby caused the biggest defeat among these three as he took out the Czech Republic’s Tomas Berdych 6-1, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.
Lucky loser Kamil Majchrzak of Poland also needs to be included among these names. Majchrzak defeated Chile’s Nicolas Jarry in a five-set slugfest that lasted three hours and 40 minutes. The World No. 94 won 6-7(2), 7-6(5), 7-6(6), 1-6, 6-4. Majchrzak had replaced Canada’s 21st seed Milos Raonic in the draw.
2019 US Open opening day attendance tops 68,000
The 2019 US Open saw an Opening Day attendance of 68,059, the largest crowd to attend an Opening Day in US Open history.
Attendance for the day session was 41,050, and the Evening Session attendance was 27,009.