World No. 1 Novak Djokovic has played a lot of tennis this year, taking its ultimate toll in the final at Cincinnati weeks ago where he retired due to a shoulder injury.
On Tuesday at the US Open, Djokovic benefited from a retirement by opponent Conor Niland, an Irish qualifier who quit trailing 6-0, 5-1, and after emptying his stomach contents due to food poisoning.
“I warmed up and got sick everywhere after my 30-minute warmup,” Niland told reporters. “I thought I could bluff my way through but you can’t do that against the No. 1 in the world, I just found out. I thought I was going to vomit after long points. I just felt really, really rotten out there.”
Djokovic didn’t seem to mind the shortened first round that could benefit him during the long fortnight in New York.
“This has been a very long year,” Djokovic said after improving his 2011 campaign to 58-2. “So I really don’t mind that I spend less time on the court…Today I didn’t feel any pain. I served well and I played well, so I have no concern.”
Other Top 10 seeds advancing into the second round Tuesday were No. 2 Rafael Nadal, and No. 5 David Ferrer coming from a set down to beat Igor Andreev.
Ernests Gulbis, who has enjoyed a resurgence of once-promise this summer, provided the biggest seeded upset of the day when he topped No. 16 Mikhail Youzhny in straight sets. Nikolay Davydenko also uprooted a seed, outlasting No. 32 Ivan Dodig 6-2 in the fifth.
Other notable unseeded winners were David Nalbandian over Bobby Reynolds in four, James Blake in four over Jesse Huta Galung, Donald Young, and Nicolas Mahut beating Robert Farah 6-0 in the fifth.
“I think everyone’s light turns on at their own time,” said the embattled American Young, who earlier this year tweeted his disdain for the USTA after being denied a tournament wildcard, and who will next meet No. 14 Stan Wawrinka. “I’m starting to feel like mine is turning on. Yeah, people do it at their own time. Not everybody does it when everybody expects it to be done. I wish it could have been earlier. It’s starting to come now and I’m excited about it…I feel I’m a little more aggressive, able to actually not just play well for a little part of the match but the whole match, which is definitely what you need to do to win matches at this level.”
Blake will next meet Ferrer, and Nalbandian the No. 30 seed Ivan Ljubicic.
Matches to watch for on Wednesday in Flushing Meadows include (4) Andy Murray vs. Indian backboard Somdev Devvarman, (21) Andy Roddick vs. “Iron” Mike Russell in an all-American meeting, Marcos Baghdatis vs. (28) John Isner, and American-to-watch Jack Sock vs. Frenchman Marc Gicquel.
Arthur Ashe Stadium 11:00 Start Time
Kateryna Bondarenko (UKR) v. Vera Zvonareva (RUS)
Somdev Devvarman (IND) v. Andy Murray (GBR)
Venus Williams (USA) v. Sabine Lisicki (GER)
Arthur Ashe Stadium 19:00 Start Time
Andy Roddick (USA) v. Michael Russell (USA)
Anastasiya Yakimova (BLR) v. Maria Sharapova (RUS)
Louis Armstrong Stadium 11:00 Start Time
Madison Keys (USA) v. Lucie Safarova (CZE)
Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG) v. Filippo Volandri (ITA)
Coco Vandeweghe (USA) v. Samantha Stosur (AUS)
Marcos Baghdatis (CYP) v. John Isner (USA)
Grandstand 11:00 Start Time
Robin Soderling (SWE) v. Louk Sorensen (IRL)
Marion Bartoli (FRA) v. Christina McHale (USA)
Robby Ginepri (USA) v. Joao Souza (BRA)
Angelique Kerber (GER) v. Agnieszka Radwanska (POL)
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