Welcome back to the next episode in our daily recaps, and check sharapovanovic.com before the start of Day 3 for our preview of its most interesting matches.
Second seeds: Despite a shoulder injury that hampered her preparation, the world #2 wasted no time in disposing of an opponent who had won a set from Kvitova at Roland Garros. Her decision to withdraw from New Haven last week may buy her an additional victory or two here. Meanwhile, Djokovic looked every inch the defending champion while laying waste to Paolo Lorenzi, who had the misfortune of drawing him in the opening round at Melbourne as well. Conceding just two games to his challenger for the second time this year, Djokovic has lost just 12 games in 12 sets through first-week matches at majors on hard courts this season. Outside an opening game in which he dropped serve, all of his weapons fired to perfection in a match that felt more like an exhibition than a competition.
Williams sisters: After Venus steamrolled the fading Mattek-Sands in the afternoon on Ashe, Serena did what Serena does under the lights on Ashe. Much more imposing against Vandeweghe here than in the Stanford final, the title favorite did benefit from early double faults and other symptoms of nerves from her young compatriot. In general, however, Serena delivered an extremely solid effort in every department outside one wobbly service game, probably the product of a focus lapse. Much less of a genuine contender than he sister, Venus displayed some crisp movement and sharp passing shots against yet another compatriot on an anthropophagous day for Americans. She should relish the day of rest between matches.
Sloane Stephens: Among the most important victories of her career was an upset over #22 Schiavone that felt closer than the scoreline suggested. Stephens held firm when the Italian mounted her inevitable comeback early in the second set and did not allow two unexploited match points at 3-5 or a break point when she served for the match to unnerve her. Her serve look much more effective than at this time last year, when she shone in New York before, while she stayed more competitively focused on each point.
Berdych: Handed a challenging assignment against David Goffin, a sensation at Roland Garros, Berdych needed to overcome not only his opponent but memories of first-round losses at Wimbledon and the Olympics. A last-minute entry to Winston-Salem in the week before the Open, where he came within a point of the title, may have boosted his confidence for what became a routine straight-sets victory. These courts should suit Berdych’s game, so perhaps he finally can capitalize on them this year.
Tsonga: Among the leading challengers to the top three, Tsonga started his campaign in commanding form while dropping serve only once. If he advances more efficiently in the early rounds, he should retain greater reserves of energy for when he needs them more. Having won the first two sets resoundingly, he lost concentration a little in the third set but did win the tiebreak comfortably.
Fognini: Not known for his tenacity, the Italian rallied to advance after losing the first two sets and weathered a 7-5 decider. The New York crowd should appreciate his stylish appearance and nonchalant style of shot-making.
Garcia-Lopez: After winning just four games in two sets from world #11 Juan Monaco, the Spaniard who once defeated Nadal understandably might have decided to fight another day. Over the next three sets, however, Garcia-Lopez displayed bursts of the tennis that allowed him to upset his more famous compatriot two years ago, swiping aside break point after break point as the match neared a decisive tiebreak. He also responded sturdily after failing to serve out the match in a contested game at 5-3 in the fifth set, and to letting his first two match points slip away in the tiebreak. Looking fresh and aggressive in that roll of the dice, he created an unforgettable memory on a Grandstand court that so often witnesses such epics.
American men’s doubles: Asked to predict what might happen in meetings between Ryan Harrison and his brother against Fyrstenberg and Matkowski, Donald Young and his partner against Llodra and Zimonjic, and Steve Johnson and Jack Sock against Mirnyi and Nestor, most would have predicted that none of the American teams would win a set. Instead, they converted an astonishing triple play with three-set victories over each of those celebrated European doubles duos. For Harrison and Young, especially, the unexpected feat might rekindle their spirits after recent adversity.
Querrey: At this stage of his return from a series of injuries, any win at a major merits praise, and Querrey showed spark by rallying from a one-set deficit against Lu. In the wake of three strong matches at Wimbledon, a second-week appearance here would not surprise. But, if he does aim for that goal, Querrey needs to overpower modest servers like Lu more comprehensively rather than drifting to the brink of a fifth set against them.
Raonic: The good news: 30 aces and a first-round win over a quality opponent for this stage, albeit a man at his best on clay. The bad news: 15 double faults and a five-set battle that may exact a toll for a later rounds in a tournament where Raonic can consider himself a legitimate dark horse. Double digits in double faults won’t allow him much chance to upset Murray at the start of the second week.
Paszek: With an Eastbourne title, Wimbledon quarterfinal, and Montreal quarterfinal, she had worked hard to earn a seeding at the year’s final major, together with the ensuing opportunity to gobble up more rankings points and position herself for 2013. An opening loss to the unremarkable Govortsova thus must have stung in blunting Paszek’s momentum at the worst possible time.
Wozniacki: Losing in the first round of the US Open for the first time in her career, the woman who started 2012 with the top ranking won just six matches at majors this season. Possibly outside the top 10 when the tournament ends, she showed virtually no resistance to Irina-Camelia Begu, never breaking serve despite her normally solid return game. A knee injury probably contributed to this setback, but Caro soon must take a critical look at the state of her career—rather than a fond look into the eyes of doting boyfriend Rory McIlroy.
Karlovic: The tallest man in the main draw lost a 6-1 set to a player a full foot shorter than him. That fact alone would place him here, but a first-round loss in four sets to the anonymous Jimmy Wang on the fastest surface of any major? Dr. Ivo might need some medicine after that beating to his pride.
Irina Falconi: Not all ships rise with the tide. On the day that Stephens registered her stirring victory, a woman who recorded one of her own here before could not defeat an opponent who struck 13 double faults over the first two sets. Falconi lost serve ten times in a marathon that lasted nearly three hours and from which neither player deserved to advance.
Mahut: Considering the heartbreak that he endured at Wimbledon two years ago, a fifth-set tiebreak loss to Petzschner seemed almost like a cruel jest by the tennis gods. To add insult to injury, Mahut also watched a two-set lead evaporate before the dice rolled against him one more time.
Urszula Radwanska: A 6-1, 6-1 loss on the same day that her sister collected a 6-1, 6-1 victory might lead to a bit of strife in the Radwanska household tonight. Of course, Dallas champion Roberta Vinci seemed the ideal opponent to fluster a raw youngster like Ula.
Barthel: She completed a nearly unmitigated disaster for the Germans in New York by coming within two games of a straight-sets victory before falling to fellow prodigy Jovanovski in a meek third set.