Four Top 10 men’s seeds were up, and four Top 10 seeds advanced in first-round play on Wednesday at the US Open.
No. 4 David Ferrer and No. 7 Juan Martin del Potro advanced in straights, with Ferrer topping South African Kevin Anderson, and del Potro benefiting from the withdrawal by David Nalbandian (chest muscle), defeating lucky loser Florent Serra of France.
“He played really well,” said del Potro, who next meets American Ryan Harrison. “He served well in important moments, but I think I played much better in important moments than him — basically in the tiebreak, in the second set, and in the end of the match. Was a really close match, but I feel good.”
Needing to work harder were No. 8 Janko Tipsarevic who came from 1-2 sets down to beat Frenchman Guillaume Rufin 6-2 in the fifth, and No. 9 John Isner, fending off Xavier “X-Man” Malisse 7-6 in the fourth, winning both tiebreaks in the match.
“I’ve had a lot of practice, obviously,” Isner said with deadpan timing regarding the number of tiebreaks he plays. “Last week I won a tiebreaker at the end to win the tournament and it gave me a lot of confidence. I wish I could make it a little easier on myself. I tend to not to, as people know.”
Tipsarevic will next meet American comeback story Brian Baker, who was a straight-set winner Wednesday.
“I was probably a little more nervous today than I’d like to have been. But seven years [between US Opens] is a long time,” Baker said. “I haven’t really played [Tipsarevic]. I think I played him in junior Wimbledon when I was 15. When I get opportunities, I’m going to have to be aggressive and step up. I’m going to have to serve better than I did today.”
The lower seeds suffered upsets aplenty Wednesday as Latvian “The Importance of Being” Ernests Gulbis came from two sets down to beat No. 21 Tommy Haas, former Top 10er Tommy Robredo straight-setted No. 26 Andreas Seppi, the Luxembourg laser Gilles Muller served No. 28 Mikhail Youzhny off the court in five, and German Cedrik-Marcel “Don’t Call Me Carl-Uwe” Stebe toppled No. 29 Viktor Troicki in four.
It was the first time the 34-year-old Haas lost in the first round of the US Open since his debut in Flushing Meadows 17 years ago.
“I think I let it slip away a little bit in the third,” said Haas, up two sets to love and a break. “Just got a little bit tight, a little bit nervous trying to consolidate that break. Made a few bad errors that you can’t allow yourself to happen. Sort of gave him a chance to come back.”
Gulbis next meets NCAA champ Steve Johnson, who beat fellow American former collegiate Rajeev Ram 6-3, 7-6(5), 6-3.
Other American winners on the day were Harrison in straight over Benjamin Becker, and former collegiate Bradley Klahn, who outlasted veteran Austrian Jurgen “Tuna” Melzer in five sets.
World No. 3 Andy Murray capped the night session by rolling Croat Ivan Dodig 6-2, 6-1, 6-3.
Slim pickings to look for on Thursday in competitive second-round play include (23) Mardy Fish vs. former Top 10er Nikolay Davydenko, (24) Marcel Granollers vs. “Big Game” James Blake, U.S. youngster Jack Sock vs. Italian Flavio Cipolla, and French veteran Paul-Henri Mathieu vs. (15) Milos “The Missile” Raonic.
Top 10 seeds in action on the women’s side all drilled opponents in second-round play on Wednesday at the US Open, with two of the five players baking bagels, and none dropping a set. They were led by world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka who strolled past Belgian qualifier Kirsten Flipkens 6-2, 6-2.
“The expectations are higher for sure,” said the world No. 1 and 2012 Australian Open champ and hoodie wearer on dealing with the pressure. “There is a lot more attention. People expect you to play better. For me, I always take it match by match, no matter where it is, what my ranking is. I have been doing it for pretty much my whole career. I try to stay humble and focused.”
Other Top 10 winners were No. 3 Maria Sharapova pounding Spaniard Lourdes Dom�nguez Lino 6-0, 6-1 in a less-than-thrilling featured night match, No. 5 Petra Kvitova handling Frenchwoman Alize Cornet in straights, No. 7 Sam Stosur bageling Romanian qualifier Edina Gallovits-Hall in the second set, and No. 9 Li Na turning back Aussie Casey Dellacqua 6-4, 6-4.
Upset-minded were French wildcard Kristina Mladenovic toppling No. 17 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1, 6-2, Brit Laura Robson ousting No. 23 Kim Clijsters 7-6(4), 7-6(5) in the former No. 1’s last US Open appearance, and Frenchwoman Pauline Parmentier defeating No. 25 Yanina Wickmayer in straights.
“This seems like the perfect place to retire, I just wish it wasn’t today,” said an emotional Clijsters after the match.
NCAA runner-up and wildcard Mallory Burdette was also a winner, easing past Czech Lucie Hradecka 6-2, 6-4.
Women’s matches to look for Thursday at Flushing Meadows are plenty in (4) Serena Williams vs. the crafty Spaniard Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, Venus Williams vs. (6) Angelique Kerber, U.S. comer Sloane Stephens vs. German Tatjana Malek, (2) Aggie Radwanska vs. the sweet backhand of Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro, (13) Dominika Cibulkova vs. Serbian tough out Bojana Jovanovski, and (20) Roberta Vinci in a tough one vs. Yaroslava Shvedova.
TENNIS-X NEWS, NOTES, QUOTES AND BARBS
BLAKE GETTING IT FROM ALL SIDES — Now one of the old men on tour at age 32, American James Blake is getting his share of ribbing for his age, in addition to getting pranked. I knew I was going to get [ribbed by fellow players], because when I was a kid starting out around here I dished them out. So I knew they would come back to haunt me. I remember I used to make fun of Todd Martin. Todd was one of my key guys I would get. I made fun of him for taking so long to warm up, for his grey hair, for all that kind of stuff, for just in general being old. He said, ‘Just wait, just wait. You will be, too.’ Now I’m getting it from everyone. I’m getting the old jokes, the grandpa jokes, and I’m okay with that.” He also gets and gives his share of pranks from neighbor John Isner. “Off the court, I’m goofy,” Isner tells Vogue. “I’ve played some pretty cool pranks on people before. James Blake knows how to get into my house when I’m gone, so he’ll go and fill up my DVR with Spanish shows. I let the air out of the tires of his golf cart, so when he’s driving down to the course, he only gets halfway there. Stuff like that.”
Andy Roddick has committed to play Delray Beach in 2013, the tour goes on…According to Businessweek, men’s non-Slam tour-level events generally distribute anywhere from 20%-30% of their revenue to players. The revenue sharing at the four Slams is 12%-16%. Other sports see players getting closer to 50% of revenues…The Wall Street Journal hammering the ATP stat-keeping machine: “Professional tennis is the last great refuge of incomplete, inaccurate, indifferent stat-keeping in the sports world. Tennis’s record books are rife with errors, thanks to the hodgepodge of organizations that oversee the sport and its confusing, ever-shifting calendar. Take, for example, the 1975 Australian Open…it is hard to even find an accurate men’s-singles draw for the 1975 Australian Open, one of the four major tournaments on the calendar. The men’s tour, known as the ATP World Tour, has on its website a draw showing 32 players. The problem is that 64 men competed — meaning all 64 have incorrect stats for the tournament. An ATP spokesman said, “we are looking at ways to complete our results database in the Open Era.” Accuracy problems aren’t confined to the older records. The ATP’s website has faulty statistics for the 2003 tournament in Madrid, one of the biggest events on the calendar outside of the Grand Slams. Roger Federer, for instance, won 140% of his service points against Mardy Fish, according to the site. (It’s safe to assume he gave his 110% in the match.).”…American Jack Sock, whose weight of shot and shot selection are spectacularly poor, has been predicted as Top 10 by Brad Gilbert…Four Japanese men were in the US Open singles draw this year, an Open Era record…Actress Susan Sarandon, 65, showed up at the US Open getting all handsy with Jonathan Bricklin, 33. The two are investors/business partners/founders of the SPiN ping pong club in New York City…The 70-year-old USTA tennis referee that was scheduled to work the US Open but instead was taken into custody for possibly beating her 80-year-old husband to death with a (USTA?) coffee cup was scheduled for a court appearance Wednesday in Los Angeles, with her bail set at $1 million…Justin Gimelstob, in the replay check out the self-satisfied smug smirk on your face as you stare in the camera waiting to talk. It’s annoying…Sweet Tennis Channel shot of the Lindsay Davenport championship banner at the US Open, with Tennis Channel commentator Davenport noting they spelled her name wrong on the banner…Rhyne Williams’ forehand on Tuesday makes Andy Roddick’s look like a 16-under player’s…Rhyne Williams, nice baseball bike chain around the neck playing tennis…In early doubles action, American rookies Steve Johnson/Jack Sock toppled veterans Max “The Beast” Mirnyi/Daniel Nestor, and American brothers Christian/Ryan Harrison beat 2011 US Open finalists Mariusz Fyrstenberg/Marcin Matkowski…All snarkyness aside, Serena Williams is looking the fittest we’ve seen her in a long time, which is bad news for the rest of the field…David Nalbandian pulled from the US Open with a strained chest muscle on Wedneday.
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