Wow, where did that come from? Having travelled back from the Cider country, the first result I saw was that Halep had been comfortably beaten by Kaia Kanepi. The Estonian has always been more than just a useful operator in the past but Halep is in the best form she has ever been in on the big stage, since winning in Paris. A 6/2 6/4 loss for the top seed was not something I was expecting at all. It sounds like a familiar defeat for the Romanian, where she got totally out hit and bullied. It sounds like it could have been even easier but Kanepi blew a double break lead in the second before getting over the line. I’m afraid it is a bit of a case of Halep flattering to deceive again though after a great build-up here.
Serena had an easier time of it against Magda Linette in the night session. There was a slightly slow start as you would probably expect from Rena in the first round of a slam but when she kicked in it was pretty plain sailing. Serving and moving exceptionally well in the second set of her 6/4 6/0 victory. Carina Witthoeft is next for Rena. The dream third-round matchup is still on after Venus did it the hard way against Svetlana Kuznetsova. From a set and a double break up, Venus found herself in a third set. She looked to be hampered by her movement pretty badly at times but she regrouped after the ten-minute heatwave rule kicked in at the end of the second. Showing all that big hitting and gutsy determination we have become used to in the decider.
Defending champion Sloane Stephens came through 6/1 7/5 against Evgeniya Rodina. She said after how it was nice to get this first match out of the way. By all account, it was lights out stuff in the first and getting the job done in the second, with the Russian putting in a decent set of tennis.
Julia Goerges and Elina Svitolina both dropped sets against Anna Kalinskaya and Sachia Vickery respectively. Both decent opponents though for the seeded players. Vickery is a proper fighter and this showed when Svitolina went missing in the second. Would have been nice to see her take this. Georges composed herself in the decider against Kalinskaya to hit her way through the third, after it looked like she would get the job done in two.
I thought I had said famous words about Elise Mertens after saying how solid she is and how she beats who she should. That proved to be the case but she had to come from behind in the decider against Kurumi Nara. It does sound like the Belgian has a neck/shoulder injury, however.
Other winners were Garbine Muguruza, Ash Barty, Maria Sakkari, Karolina Pliskova and Vika Azarenka. Heather Watson lost in three to Ekaterina Makarova having made a fight of it in the second but, ultimately not having quite enough.
Isn’t it great to see Muzza back on court? How I have missed seeing him on the big stage. In his four-set win over James Duckworth, there were a few signs of the ‘Old Murray’, some great hustle at some key points in the match. This was usually finished off with a big shout and first pump over to his corner. Legend. Great stuff. Let’s hope he can get the win over Nando Verdasco in the next round and get through to the third round against Delpo. The Argentine was a comfortable straight sets winner over Donald Young on the opening day.
Elsewhere in the men’s, top seed Rafa Nadal got through when David Ferrer had to retire with a calf injury in his last ever slam. Rafa was a set up but actually a break down in the second before his pal withdrew. Exceptionally unfortunate for everyone involved, including Rafa who will not have enjoyed progressing in such a way. Vasek Pospisil is next for Nadal. Gilles Muller also played his last ever match after going out to Lorenzo Sonego in New York.
Stefanos Tsitsipas was made to work hard by Tommy Robredo but used his nut to get over the line in the three. Good stuff from Stefanos against a wily campaigner. Stan Wawrinka gave Grigor Dimitrov a beating as the two players seasons continue to go in totally different directions. It continues to go south for Dimitrov, losing 6/3 6/2 7/5. Roberto Bautista Agut was another seed to lose, clearly not over his abdominal injury as he fell to wildcard Jason Kubler in straights.
There was disappointment for Kyle Edmund who lost in a four set upset to Paolo Lorenzi. The Italian made this into a physical battle where Edmund started cramping in the third set. It shows the Brit still has some work to do. There was better news for Cameron Norrie who slugged his way past Jordan Thompson, also in four sets.
Other big names to progress were Dominic Thiem, Karen Khachanov, Denis Shapovalov, Kevin Anderson, Borna Coric, John Isner, Nicolas Jarry and Milos Raonic.
Onwards and upwards to day two.
Andy Del Potro