The 2013 U.S. Open has commenced and the stars are aligning in New York City. Some of the world's best have advanced and begun to carve out their status as the players to watch, all hoping to win the title.
Unfortunately, some players weren't so lucky, facing first-round defeats that disappointed in a major way.
There are quite a few players to list in this article, as multiple-ranked players on both the men's and women's sides have lost. With that being established, there's something to be said about the players who had legitimate title dreams.
Whether they're young guns looking to prove their validity or past champions hoping to cash in on the absence of a superstar, the door was opened for new players to step up and shine through. Instead, we saw those very players exit before their ride could even begin.
Disappointing would be an understatement.
Jerzy Janowicz, Poland
Opponent: Maximo Gonzalez
Result: 4-6, 4-6, 2-6
Twenty-two-year-old powerhouse Jerzy Janowicz has burst onto the scene in 2013, recording his best career finishes at every Grand Slam event. After consecutive third-round appearances at the Australian Open and French Open, Janowicz finally broke through to reach the semifinals at Wimbledon.
We were reminded of his mental immaturity during his first-round exit at the 2013 U.S. Open.
Janowicz took on a tough opponent in Maximo Gonzalez, who seemed to have an answer for every big serve and forehand. Rather than bouncing back, however, Janowicz was visibly and audibly down on himself and seemed to check out during the third set.
Down 4-6, 4-6, it wasn't an inspiring comeback that Janowicz produced; it was a poor 2-6 effort.
Janowicz screamed, argued with the chair umpire, threw his racket and even attempted an effortless under-handed serve when things weren't going his way. It was beyond disappointing to see, as many view Janowicz as a future star.
That star power is pretty dim after his inexplicable performance in New York.
Kei Nishikori, Japan
Opponent: Daniel Evans, Great Britain
Result: 4-6, 4-6, 2-6
Kei Nishikori is a 23-year-old star-in-the-making from Japan who has already worked his way up to an ATP World Tour rank of No. 12. In 2013 alone, Nishikori owned a victory over Roger Federer, reached the fourth round of two Grand Slam events and won the ATP US National Indoor Championships.
For the third time since June and the fourth time this year, Nishikori has now exited a tournament in the first round.
Nishikori was manhandled by qualifier Daniel Evans of Great Britain, losing 4-6, 4-6, 2-6. This isn't an indictment of Nishikori's ability, as his world-class skill is grand enough to warrant the hype of a future superstar, but it's further evidence into what tennis fans feared most.
Nishikori has an undeniable tendency to come out flat and take less notable opponents lightly.
Nishikori reached the fourth round at both the 2013 Australian Open and French Open, and made it to the quarterfinals of the 2012 event in Melbourne. Unfortunately, the momentum that he's built up this year has resulted in a third-round exit at Wimbledon and a first-round departure at the U.S. Open.
The star potential is there, but the inconsistency is undeniable.
Samantha Stosur, Australia
Opponent: Victoria Duval, USA
Result: 7-5, 4-6, 4-6
Victoria Duval shocked the world when she pulled off a first-round upset of No. 11 seed Samantha Stosur. The 17-year-old captured America's heart with her back story and inspiring play on the court, defeating Stosur 5-7, 6-4, 6-4.
As happy as we should be for Duval, it's unfortunate that the victory came at Stosur's expense.
The women's field grew significantly weaker when Maria Sharapova pulled out of the U.S. Open and defending Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli retired. With the opportunity for a fresh face to break through, many were excited to see a new superstar born in New York City.
That possibility remains, but one of the prime contenders has been eliminated already.
Stosur won the 2011 U.S. Open and reached the finals of the 2010 French Open before losing to Francesca Schiavone in dramatic fashion. In 2013, there was a case to be made that Stosur was as ready as ever to break into the upper echelon of women with multiple Grand Slam titles.
According to Linda Pearce of The Age, Australia's Fed Cup captain Alicia Molik said that Stosur will take some time away from tennis after this devastating loss. Here's hoping that she returns in full form.
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