Nadal Receives Walkover Into US Open Third Round

NEW YORK, August 30, 2019 (by Sharada Rajagopalan)

Wild card Thanasi Kokkinakis of Australia withdrew with a shoulder injury before his second-round match against Spain’s World No. 2 Rafael Nadal on Thursday. The three-time US Open champion will face South Korean qualifier Hyeon Chung in the round-of-32 who came through in his round-of-64 match against Nadal’s fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in a dramatic five-setter.

Meanwhile, about his withdrawal, a disappointed Kokkinakis said, “I’m filthy about it. Very disappointing. Obviously (it was) such a high from the other night.” Then, opening up about his injury, he added, “I was hoping it was just the day after I’d struggle, but I woke up today and it wasn’t much better. Went for a warm-up and it still didn’t feel great. I was trying to make a last-minute decision whether I’d go out there and play or give it a crack and see what happens after a few games, but I made that mistake in Australia and it just got worse after that.”

Chung, Alexander Zverev and the tale of five-setters

Coming to Chung, the 32nd seeded Verdasco led by two-sets-to-love and even had a match point in the fifth-set at 6-5 but could not make good of his chances. The match lasting three hours and 22 minutes had the score of 1-6, 2-6, 7-5, 6-3, 7-6(3).

This was Chung’s second-straight five-setter. He won his first-round match against the US’ wild-card entrant Ernesto Escobedo in five sets as well.

Another player who rallied from two-sets-to-love down was Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik. The 22-year-old who is playing in the US Open main draw for the first time in his career defeated Italy’s Thomas Fabbiano. Bublik won 6-7(3), 5-7, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 in three hours and 40 minutes. He will next play Pablo Andujar of Spain in the third round.

In the battle of NextGen stars, Germany’s sixth seed Alexander Zverev outlasted Frances Tiafoe in a roller-coaster five-setter. Playing the first match of Thursday at 12:00 PM on the Arthur Ashe Stadium, Zverev needed three hours and nine minutes to claim a 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 win.

Acknowledging his opponent after the win, Zverev reminisced about their junior days. He shared, “I’ve known Frances since we were 10 years old and we played all throughout juniors. It’s unbelievable to see how we’ve grown on a tennis court. Every match we play is getting tougher and tougher and the level is getting better and better. Hopefully, it’ll continue like that and we’ll play even bigger matches in our careers.”

Zverev will play Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene in the next round. Bedene also won his second-round matchup against France’s Benoit Paire in five sets. Paire, too, led by two sets before being pegged back by Bedene, 4-6, 6-7(3), 6-2, 7-5, 7-6(4). The match had its moments of acrimony with Paire not even shaking his opponent’s hands at the net after the loss.

Lucky losers Kamil Majchrzak of Poland and Italy’s Paolo Lorenzi were two other players to win their respective second-round matches in five-setters. Majchrzak defeated Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas 6-7(3), 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, 6-1. Majchrzak takes on Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov next.

Lorenzo, defeated Serbian teenager Miomir Kecmanovic 7-6(11), 6-7(2), 7-6(2), 3-6, 6-3 in four hours and 48 minutes. The 37-year-old joined 38-year-old Roger Federer, and 37-year-old Feliciano Lopez as the third man aged 37 and over in the round-of-32 at Flushing Meadows. This is the only second time since the Open Era began that the tournament has seen three players in that age bracket reach the third time. The only previous time this happened was in 1968, in the inaugural year of the Open Era.

The three players to make it that far were the 47-year-old Ecuadorian-American Pancho Segura, 40-year-old American Pancho Gonzales, and the 39-year-old Dane Torben Ulrich.