The 2020 US Open returned to the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center this week with no fans due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s a roundup of the second day of action.
Serena Williams sets US Open record
Serena Williams had to wait for her 2020 US Open debut. But after a marathon Andy Murray win pushed back the start time of her first-round match, Williams opened her quest to make Grand Slam history with a straight-sets win.
She set a new record the process.
The six-time US Open champion logged a 7-5, 6-3 win over fellow American Kristie Ahn to secure her 102nd career victory in US Open play. In the process, she passed Chris Evert for the most wins in the tournament’s history by a man or a woman.
It wasn’t an easy victory. Williams fell behind, 2-0 in both sets and needed 12 games to win the first. She advances to a second-round matchup with Russia’s Margarita Gasparyan with the win.
Tuesday’s record, of course, is not the ultimate goal for Williams. If she advances to secure her seventh US Open title, she will tie Margaret Court with 24 Grand Slam victories, the most in the history of the sport. It’s a goal that has just eluded her grasp since she won the 2017 Australian Open — while she was pregnant.
Since that victory, Williams has record four runner-up finishes at Grand Slams, including each of the last two US Opens.
Andy Murray grinds out grueling victory
Three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray is not a favorite to win his fourth at the US Open.
But he was one of the opening round’s most compelling stories on Tuesday as he completed a grueling comeback win over Yoshihito Nishioka to advance to the second round.
Murray, 33, dropped the first two sets, but battled back to win three straight in a 4-6, 4-6, 7-6 (7), 7-6 (7), 6-4 victory. What initially looked like quick work for Nishioka when he took a 4-0 lead in the second set turned into a marathon victory for Murray.
Murray was under pressure the entire match. After dropping the first two sets, he faced an early break in the third. He survived match point in the fourth to win his second straight set via tiebreak. He rallied from a 3-2 deficit after giving up a break on a double fault in the fifth.
But he broke Nishioka in the next game and secured his 14th straight victory in the first round of the US Open.
After the win that took 4:40, a clearly famished Murray said he planned to ask about the emergency ice bath at the US Open locker room.
“We have on in the locker room,” Murray told ESPN. “They said it’s for emergencies. For me, this is an emergency right now. My body hurts.”
If denied, he plans to make use of the tub at his hotel room.
Murray advances to face the winner between Thiago Monteiro and No. 15 Felix Auger-Aliassime.
Venus Williams bounced early
While Serena Williams had a historic day at the U.S. Open, Venus Williams is headed home early.
Venus fell to the Czech Republic’s Karolina Muchova in straight sets on Tuesday, falling 3-6, 5-7 in her first round match at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The loss marked Venus’ first-ever in the opening round of the U.S. Open, a tournament she’s played in now a record 22 times.
Venus, 40, has now failed to reach the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam match since 2017 — when he made it to the finals at both the Australian Open and Wimbledon.
Madison Keys, Sloane Stephens cruise
Madison Keys had no issue getting out of the first round on Tuesday.
Keys flew past Hungary’s Timea Babos in straight sets, taking the 6-1, 6-1 win in less than an hour.
The 25-year-old, who is currently ranked No. 14 in the world, is still searching for her first Grand Slam title. She reached the finals at the U.S. Open in 2017, but fell to Sloane Stephens in straight sets.
Stephens’ win on Tuesday wasn’t as easy as Keys’, but it was just as effective.
Stephens beat Romania’s Mihaela Buzarnescu in straright sets too, winning 6-3, 6-3.
Tuesday’s match marked the first of the year for Buzarnescu. Stephens, who picked up her lone Grand Slam title at the U.S. Open three years ago, was bounced from the first round last year after losing to Russian Anna Kalinskaya.
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