The 2014 U.S. Open is officially underway, and the first half of Day 1 sprang few surprises, with most of the top seeds advancing to the second round.
Although most of the intriguing matchups are saved for the evening and night sessions, what tennis fan will complain about getting to watch hours of the best tennis in the world to start the new week?
Below are some of the notable scores from the men's and women's draws, following by the three biggest stories to come out of the afternoon.
|Andy Murray (8) def. Robin Haase||6-3, 7-6(6), 1-6, 7-5|
|Nick Kyrgios def. Mikhail Youzhny (21)||7-5, 7-6 (4), 2-6, 7-6 (1)|
|Benoit Paire def. Julien Benneteau (24)||7-6 (4), 5-7, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4|
|Matthias Bachinger def. Radek Stepanek||6-3, 6-2, 6-2|
|Leonardo Mayer (23) def. Albert Montanes||6-2, 3-0 (ret.)|
|Andreas Seppi def. Sergiy Stakhovsky||6-3, 6-1, 6-4|
|Matthew Ebden def. Tobias Kamke||6-4, 6-3, 7-6(2)|
|Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (9) def. Juan Monaco||6-3, 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-1|
|Fernando Verdasco (31) def. Blaz Roja||6-3, 3-6, 7-5, 1-6, 6-4|
|Philipp Kohlschreiber (22) def. Facundo Bagnis||6-2, 7-6(3), 6-3|
|Simona Halep (2) def. Danielle Rose Collins||6-7(2), 6-1, 6-2|
|Venus Williams (19) def. Kimiko Date-Krumm||2-6, 6-3, 6-3|
|Agnieszka Radwanska (4) def. Sharon Fichman||6-1, 6-0|
|Angelique Kerber (6) def. Ksenia Pervak||6-2, 3-6, 7-5|
|Jelena Jankovic (9) def. Bojana Jovanovski||6-2, 6-3|
|Andrea Petkovic (18) def. Ons Jabeur||7-6(7), 1-6, 6-3|
|Kurumi Nara (31) def. Aleksandra Wozniak||6-2, 6-1|
|Shuai Peng def. Jie Zheng||6-3, 6-3|
|Lucie Safarova (14) def. Timea Babos||6-4, 7-5|
|Daniela Hantuchova def. Romina Oprandi||4-6, 6-2, 6-3|
|Saisai Zheng def. Stefanie Voegele||1-6, 6-2, 6-2|
|Alla Kudryavtseva def. Ying-Ying Duan||2-6, 6-2, 6-4|
|Belinda Bencic def. Yanina Wickmayer||6-3, 6-2|
|Monica Puig def. Tereza Smitkova||3-6, 6-3, 6-3|
|Johanna Larsson def. Virginie Razzano||6-0, 6-0|
|Jana Cepelova def. Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor||2-6, 7-5, 6-1|
|Tsvetana Pironkova def. Karin Knapp||6-4, 6-3|
Andy Murray Wins, but at What Cost?
At the time of writing, the men's half had yet to see any major upsets. Both Andy Murray and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga prevailed, leaving No. 21 Mikhail Youzhny as the highest men's seed upset on Day 1 so far.
Murray flirted with disaster, nearly dropping the second set to Robin Haase before getting the better of the Dutchman and closing the match out in the fourth. Haase was a game challenger, as evidenced by this crazy 26-point rally he won in the first set, per the U.S. Open Twitter account:
The win did little to silence Murray's biggest critics, who argue that his inability to close out a match will cost him a chance to win the U.S. Open.
Even worse, the 2012 champion was dealing with some minor injuries throughout the day. The third set is when the problems began, per Sports Illustrated Tennis:
Murray says he started cramping in the third set in his arm and trapezius. #usopen— SI Tennis (@SI_Tennis) August 25, 2014
"I tried to hang around and tried to play without using my legs much. I managed to get through," said Murray after the match, per ATPWorldTour.com. "These slams are physically challenging, but I need to work out why it happened. It shouldn't have happened, regardless of the temperature."
Murray wasn't exactly hitting on all cylinders heading into the U.S. Open. He's failed to make it past the quarterfinals of any tournament since the French Open. If Murray is hobbled heading into the second round and beyond, he could be in serious trouble.
Simona Halep Falters Early, Recovers
After the first set, things were looking dire for Simona Halep. Then she walked all over Danielle Rose Collins in the second and cruised in the third. As The New York Times' Ben Rothenberg pointed out, it was as if the two simultaneously learned the natural order of the tennis world:
Halep found her footing and Collins started to realize enormity of the occasion, it seemed. Halep toasts second 6-1 to force a third.#USOpen— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) August 25, 2014
Halep waxed philosophically following her win when asked to describe the differences between Arthur Ashe Stadium and Court Philippe Chatrier at Roland Garros, via SI Tennis:
Simona Halep was asked to compare Ashe to Chatrier: "It’s bigger. And more blue.” All true. #usopen— SI Tennis (@SI_Tennis) August 25, 2014
The 22-year-old has looked strong at each of the three previous Grand Slams this year, going to the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, final of the French Open and semifinal of Wimbledon. Her results at the U.S. Open have also slowly risen over the years. Before last year, her fourth-round exit in Flushing was her best performance in a Grand Slam.
Whoever wants to win the U.S. Open will likely have to go through Serena Williams, which could be a problem for Halep, who's lost all three of her previous meetings to Williams.
Kimiko Date-Krumm Goes Wicker Man
After taking the first set 6-2 against Venus Williams, Kimiko Date-Krumm found herself in trouble in the second, staring at a 5-2 deficit. To make things even more difficult, she was hassled by a troublesome bee. Nicolas Cage did not approve.
Date-Krumm went on to lose both the second and third sets by back-to-back scores of 3-6. The 43-year-old really wore down as the match went on. According to USOpen.org, she won 60 percent, 67 percent and then 35 percent of her first serves over the three sets, respectively.
Williams also stepped her game up in the final two sets, surrendering a combined 17 unforced errors, compared to 19 for the first set alone.
This point in the third set just about sums up how the final two frames unfolded. Williams wasn't dazzling, but she defended well and attacked when she saw an opening:
The 34-year-old advances to the second round, where she's lost in each of the last three years at the U.S. Open. Now I'm not saying the U.S. Tennis Association has perfected some kind of sentient bee robot technology, but if it has, then Williams' match might be the best time to deploy it again.