Top seeds survive on day of mixed fortunes

Top seeds survive on day of mixed fortunes

NEW YORK - Reuters
Top seeds survive on day of mixed fortunes

Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal plays a point against Brazil's Rogerio Dutra Silva during their 2013 US Open men's singles match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York on August 29, 2013. AFP photo

he contrasting fortunes of grand slam tennis were on full display at the U.S. Open on Aug. 30. Some dreams were made while others were shattered.

Victoria Duval, the teenaged American who had captured the hearts of New York with her feats both on and off the court, was knocked out in straight sets in a brutal reminder of how far she still has to go to reach the top.

For Sara Errani, the world’s fifth ranked woman, the pressure of playing in the Big Apple became too much and she crumbled under pressure, tearfully admitting she had choked.

The tournament’s biggest stars all survived unscathed, ruthlessly dispatching their opponents with a minimum of fuss in a sport where there is little room for sentiment if your ultimate aim is to collect grand slam titles.

Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal and Serena Williams have 45 major singles titles between them and the trio won their second round matches in straight sets, as they normally do. For them, the championship never really starts until the second week.

For the vast majority, the last grand slam of the year is a stringent test of character from start to finish, where every win is cherished.

There was no better example Aug. 29 than the Englishman Dan Evans, who is playing at the U.S. Open for the first time.

Ranked 179th in the world, he needed to come through the qualifying tournament just to get into the main draw and was not expected to go much further.

The formality of a first round exit was lost on the 23-year-old, however, as he tore up the script and carried his qualifying form onto the big stage.

In his opening match, the Briton pulled off the biggest win of his career when he upset Japan’s Kei Nishikori, ranked 12th in the world, with many observers expecting that performance to be the highlight of his campaign. On Aug. 29, however, he won again, this time beating Bernard Tomic 1-6, 6-3, 7-6(4), 6-3, a win made all the more sweeter because the Australian’s father had snubbed him a year ago in Miami.

Errani, a semifinalist in the Big Apple last year, crashed to a 6-3, 6-1 loss to her Italian compatriot Flavia Pennetta then did something no-one expected. In a sport where players try to hide their smallest weaknesses, she revealed her darkest secret.

Her mood was in stark contrast to Victoria Azarenka, last year’s runner-up, who joked that she was enjoying a love affair with New York’s unforgiving hardcourts.

“I would say it’s my husband, hardcourts,” she said after her 6-3, 6-1 win over Canada’s Aleksandra Wozniak. “Because we have been together for a long time (we) got really comfortable with each other.”

Williams was also dancing to a different beat even though the wind was blowing hard when she strolled onto the Arthur Ashe Stadium center court.

Easy win

Her match against Galina Voskoboeva of Kazakhstan had originally been scheduled for Wednesday but was held over because of rain.

Unfazed by the delay, she cruised to a 6-3, 6-0 victory before teaming up with big sister Venus to win their first round doubles match.

Federer, unflappable even as he struggles to add to his record collection of 17 grand slam singles titles, hardly broke into a sweat on a baking hot day as he brushed aside Argentina’s Carlos Berlocq 6-3, 6-2, 6-1.

“For me, it was pretty straightforward, to be honest,” Federer said. “It’s one of those matches I expect myself to win if possible in straight sets and gain confidence in the process.

Nadal, who missed last year’s U.S. Open because of injury, brushed aside Rogerio Dutra Silva of Brazil 6-2, 6-1, 6-0.