Marsel İlhan advances to second round at US Open
DHA photoTurkey’s top professional tennis player, Marsel İlhan, ranked 84th in the ATP rankings, has advanced to the second round of the U.S. Open.
İlhan was leading 6-0, 2-6, 6-4, 3-2 against veteran Radek Stepanek on Aug. 31 when Stepanek withdrew due to an injury.
İlhan said he was happy to have won against an experienced player.
“I have become a player of this level, and I aim to go further at the U.S. Open,” İlhan said. “I want to end the season in the top 50 in the rankings.”
İlhan will next play Frenchman Benoit Paire, who provided the big shock of the day, grinding out a 6-4 3-6 4-6 7-6(6) 6-4 win over last year’s finalist, Kei Nishikori of Japan.
“To beat Nishikori, for me, it was impossible to imagine this,” 41st-ranked Paire said. “I’m really happy.”
Paire, who had never before beaten a top-five foe, fired 21 aces to only three for Nishikori and blasted 64 winners, 30 more than Nishikori.
“He was very aggressive, so there were many rallies and it was tough to get rhythm,” Nishikori said.
Nishikori led the tie-breaker 6-4 but swatted a forehand long, watched Paire smack two service winners and then Nishikori netted a forehand to force a fifth set.
Paire, who won his first ATP title last month at Bastad, broke for a 3-2 lead and held on to the finish to win after three hours and 14 minutes.
Also on Aug. 31, three-time defending champion Serena Williams launched her quest for a historic title by overwhelming 86th-ranked Russian Vitalia Diatchenko.
The world number one was a 6-0, 2-0 winner after only 30 minutes at Arthur Ashe Stadium when Diatchenko retired with a left foot injury, advancing Williams into a second-round match against Dutch qualifier Kiki Bertens.
“If I can just stay relaxed and stay in the points and stay calm and happy out there, I have to look at it as I have nothing to lose,” Williams said.
The 33-year-old American is chasing the first calendar Grand Slam since Steffi Graf in 1988 and a 22nd career major title to match Graf’s Open Era record, two shy of Australian Margaret Court’s all-time mark.
Top-ranked Novak Djokovic and eighth seed Rafael Nadal also cruised into the second round on the men’s side
Djokovic needed only one hour and 11 minutes to capture a 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 victory over Brazil’s Joao Souza, while Nadal, in his first U.S. Open match since winning in 2013 after missing 2014 with an injury, avenged a loss last year at Basel to Croatian teen Borna Coric with a 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 victory, booking a date with Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman.