Andy Murray may well have lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas but it was great to see him back playing to that level and bringing his usual entertainment to the court. Muzza is one of the very few players that I watch and expect to see things happen. This match was no different. The shot-making was fantastic and the aggression from the baseline was a joy to watch. Then there was the crowd participation from him with plenty of shouts and fist-pumping. I mean this in the nicest way possible but I also love seeing Murray berate himself and his teams, some don’t agree with this but it makes for compelling viewing. I think I get it because I would be similar myself. He did let it affect his chances yesterday here though in the second set when he would have taken a two-set lead but he wasn’t happy with how much he was sweating. Having lost the second set on a tiebreak where he had taken a tumble and left the court soaked he then tried draining his shoes at the sit-down. Muzza was heard shouting to his corner that they were ‘under prepared’ and ‘every detail’ should have been checked for what i assume was not having a spare pair of trainers with him. He also wasn’t best pleased about Stefanos going off the court before the decider, saying he was cheating and after said that he had ‘lost a lot of respect for him’. There was also a bit of banter with the umpire that he was going to call for the trainer when Tsitsipas was coming out to serve for the match at 5/4. Primetime stuff all in all. I really hope that this level of performance is something we will see more often though and we can take comfort from that in the defeat.
Evo really had to fight hard to outlast Thiago Monteiro in four. At one set all here it looked as though the Brazilian had taken every ounce of energy from Evo and I was worried the writing was on the wall with what we have seen after Wimbledon and COVID in particular. There were times when you were worried he wouldn’t be able to go the distance here if required but he kept finding an extra wind. I thought he showed great heart and commitment to stick in there and turn this around. Having knicked the third set he took control and Monteiro blew up. The early betting markets show that Evo will only go in a slight favourite against Marcos Giron next in a match he would normally be a clear favourite for. Fingers crossed he can recover as he was saying after that since COVID he gets a lot more tired. In Evo we trust.
Cam Norrie lost to Carlos Alcaraz. This was a nasty first-round against a rapidly improving Spaniard, who by all account dominated Nozzer with his forehand. It has been a great year so far for the Brit but it has just dropped off in the last few weeks, which having played so much is only natural. Elsewhere there were comfortable wins for both Daniil Medvedev and Roberto Bautista Agut against Richard Gasquet and Nick Kyrgios respectively. Kyrgios said after that he was well outplayed and that the Spaniard is a horrid matchup for him. Andrey Rublev beat 42-year-old Ivo Karlovic in straights with the Croat now deciding on whether he continues to play on the tour or call it a day. Casper Ruud and Felix Auger-Aliassime were also winners. FAA did have a really tough time of it against qualifier Evgeny Donskoy, who served for the third set for a two sets to one lead but lost in four. John Isner is out. It had been an encouraging couple of weeks for him in the build-up but Brandon Nakashima has ousted him in straights.
In the Women’s there was a fairly routine win for Naomi Osaka against Marie Bouzkova, she said that she was fairly nervous about getting the opener out of the way but she wasn’t feeling the pressure. The defending Champ will play Olga Danilovic next. Aryna Sabalenka wasn’t amazing in her three-set win over Nina Stojanovic and it will need to get much better if she is to stand any chance of winning this. She did serve up a bagel in a much improved deciding set. Sabalenka’s compatriot Vika Azarenka won eleven straight games from 1/4 against Tereza Martincova, she woke up from the sixth game and returned serve pretty well. Angie Kerber was cutting it much finer against Dayana Yastremska, where she was 3-5 down in the decider. There was plenty of fight from the German who is renowned for this and with Yastremska being flakey you can see how she turned this around to win a final set breaker. It was a similar story for Coco Gauff who had to manage a nervous performance and crowd to battle past Madga Linette. We know the Pole can be tricky with the variety she has but Coco also found a way through in three. When you consider things she actually stands up well to the expectation of these kinds of matches, where a lot of others would probably be sent packing.
The Brits didn’t fare so well. Harriet Dart played pretty well against Caroline Garcia but a left groin/thigh injury became apparent after a medical timeout in the second set having won the first. Heather Watson is still yet to win a match in the main draw at New York, which is incredible when you think she landed the junior title here back in 2009. Heather is now 0-11 in the main draw here after losing 6/1 6/4 to Kaja Juvan. Jo Konta didn’t even make it on court, withdrawing from the event a few hours before her scheduled match with Kristina Mladenovic with a left thigh injury. Elsewhere Simona Halep beat the inform Camila Giorgi in a close two sets. The Romanian comes in with less pressure than normal after having a stop-start season and this is a good win to start it off. Elena Rybakina and Garbine Muguriza are also both through in straights, Muguruza needing two breakers to get the better of Donna Vekic. Finally, there was a repeat of the 2017 final between Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys. Both players had chances to win this and Keys lead 5-3 in the final set breaker before coming up with a load of errors as has been the case before. The truth is Sloane is a much more solid big match player than her bezzie.
On to day two.
Al Davies (Andy Del Potro).