Wednesday, September 1, 2010

US Open Report: Days 1 & 2

While top contenders such as Kim Clijsters, Andy Roddick, Venus Williams, and Roger Federer got through easily during the first day of play, it was a different story on the second day as top seeds were pushed to the limits. One only had to look at Arthur Ashe Stadium that second day with both Jelena Jankovic and Novak Djokovic escaping a monumental upset through the skin of their teeth. Then Maria Sharapova had to get through in three sets, Rafael Nadal needed to get through two tiebreakers, and Caroline Wozniacki played well after midnight.

The seeds held fairly well on the first day with only 32nd seed Lleyton Hewitt losing in five sets against Paul-Henri Mathieu and 27th seed Fernando Gonzalez retiring. It was a bit of a mess on Day 2 with stadium Louis Armstrong seeing lots of upsets with 16th seed Marcos Baghdatis, 8th seed Na Li, and 9th seed Nadia Petrova getting bounced. Other seeds to leave early include 26th seed Lucie Safarova, 24th seed Ernest Gulbis, 28th seed Radek Stepanek, and 30th seed Juan Monaco.

The big story so far has been the oppressive heat that has settled in New York. With temperatures reaching the mid-90s and the court temperature going much higher, it's been a struggle for many players. This is even more evident when watching matches that go the distance, and a lot of them did, most of them including some top seeds. All in all 12 matches went to 5-sets. Other than Hewitt, Baghdatis also lost in a 5-setter. 3rd seed Djokovic, 5th seed Robin Soderling, 31st seed David Nalbandian, 8th seed Fernando Verdasco, and 19th seed Mardy Fish all won tough 5-setters. The latter had an interesting scoreline of 6-0, 3-6, 4-6, 6-0, 6-1.

Other noteworthy storylines the first two days include the first round wins of struggling former top players and unseeded James Blake and Ana Ivanovic as well as the continued fall of former no. 1 Dinara Safina. Celebrating her 40th birthday later this month, Kimiko Date Krumm put up a good fight losing in 3-sets to former US Open winner Svetlana Kuznetsova. Blake was among the honorees at this years opening night session at the US Open celebrating heroes who dream and inspire and with unique stories of challenge and triumph. Other honorees included Martina Navratilova, Esther Vergeer, and Dori Samadzai-Bonner.

There's still a few top players left to play their first round matches today including Andy Murray, Sam Querrey, John Isner, and Tomas Berdych. And as I type this, 10th seed Victoria Azarenka retires her second round match 1-5 in the first set after collapsing on court possibly due to heat exhaustion. An ominous start to Day 3, which is projected to be another scorcher of a day.

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