US Open: Seeded players' exodus makes Nadal smile
Rafael Nadal of Spain prepares to serve against John Millman of Australia in the first round match. (Reuters)
New York - Four players in the world's top 10 lost on Tuesday to ease Nadal's potential path to the final
Rafael Nadal launched his tilt at a fourth US Open title Tuesday with a swift defeat of John Millman as other leading seeds in his half of the draw tumbled out in the first round.
Four players in the world's top 10 - Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Karen Khachanov and Roberto Bautista Agut - lost on Tuesday to ease Nadal's potential path to the final.
The Spanish second seed - US Open champion in 2010, 2013 and 2017 - needed barely two hours to see Millman off 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 at Arthur Ashe Stadium with the world number 60 from Australia unable to reproduce the magic that saw him stun Roger Federer here a year ago.
"The beginning, the first match, is always a little bit new even if I've played here plenty of times," said Nadal, who meets Aussie Thanasi Kokkinakis next. "I think I played well and in general am very happy with the way I started.
"He (Millman) showed last year what he's able to do when he's doing well and I came on court with a lot of respect."
Two-time French Open runner-up Thiem was upset by Italian giant-killer Thomas Fabbiano 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, the Austrian fourth seed slumping to another first-round exit, having lost at the same stage at Wimbledon.
"I got very tired and exhausted after two sets. I'm far away from 100 percent," an ailing Thiem said. "It was not the real me there on the court."
Greek eighth seed Tsitsipas struggled with cramps and accused umpires of having "preferences" after he fell to a 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (9/7), 7-5 defeat by Next Gen rival Andrey Rublev in a gruelling four-hour slog.
Tsitsipas, for whom it was also a second successive Grand Slam opening-round defeat, was hit with a point penalty for a time violation in the final set.
"This chair umpire, I don't know, he has something against me. I don't know why," said Tsitsipas, who snapped "you're all weirdos" at French official Damien Dumusois during his match.
"I wish that all the chair umpires were like Mohamed Lahyani because I believe he's the best out in the game, and we need more like him in tennis because he's fair to everyone. I feel like some of them have preferences when they are on the court."
Russian ninth seed Khachanov lost to Canada's Vasek Pospisil in five sets, with 10th seed Bautista Agut of Spain succumbing in similar fashion to Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan to leave that quarter of the draw wide open for Nick Kyrgios.
The volatile Australian eased past American Steve Johnson 6-3, 7-6 (7/1), 6-4 in a match that finished at 1:12 a.m. local time.
Alexander Zverev, seeded sixth, outlasted Moldova's Radu Albot 6-1, 6-3, 3-6, 4-6, 6-2, while Marin Cilic, the 2014 champion, advanced in straight sets over Slovakia's Martin Klizan.
Wimbledon champion Simona Halep, ousted in the opening round the past two years at Flushing Meadows, beat US lucky loser Nicole Gibbs 6-3, 3-6, 6-2.
"I feel much better that I could win a match finally in this tournament," Halep said. "I feel like my game, it's there."
Sloane Stephens, the 2017 champion, slid to a 6-3, 6-4 loss to Russian qualifier Anna Kalinskaya, while 15-year-old Wimbledon sensation Coco Gauff edged past Anastasia Potapova, 18, in three sets on her US Open debut.
Andrey Rublev (RUS) bt Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE x8) 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (9/7), 7-5
Gilles Simon (FRA) bt Bjorn Fratangelo (USA) 5-7, 7-5, 7-5, 7-5
Matteo Berrettini (ITA x24) bt Richard Gasquet (FRA) 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 6-2
Jordan Thompson (AUS) bt Joao Sousa (POR) 6-3, 6-2, 6-4
Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) bt Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP x10) 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3
Gael Monfils (FRA x13) bt Albert Ramos (ESP) 7-6 (7/2), 6-4, 6-3
Denis Shapovalov (CAN) bt Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN x18) 6-1, 6-1, 6-4
Pablo Andujar (ESP) bt Kyle Edmund (GBR x30) 3-6, 7-6 (7/1), 7-5, 5-7, 6-2
Thomas Fabbiano (ITA) bt Dominic Thiem (AUT x4) 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2
Alexander Zverev (GER x6) bt Radu Albot (MDA) 6-1, 6-3, 3-6, 4-6, 6-2
Frances Tiafoe (USA) bt Ivo Karlovic (CRO) 6-2, 6-3, 1-2, retired
Aljaz Bedene (SLO) bt Jozef Kovalík (SVK) 6-3, 6-4, 7-5
Benoit Paire (FRA x29) bt Brayden Schnur (CAN) 6-2, 6-4, 6-4
Diego Schwartzman (ARG x20) bt Robin Haase (NED) 6-3, 7-6 (8/6), 6-0
Tennys Sandgren (USA) bt Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) 1-6, 6-7 (2/7), 6-4, 7-6 (7/5), 7-5
Vasek Pospisil (CAN) bt Karen Khachanov (RUS x9) 4-6, 7-5, 7-5, 4-6, 6-3
John Isner (USA x14) bt Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (ESP) 6-3, 6-4, 6-4
Marin Cilic (CRO x22) bt Martin Klizan (SVK) 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (8/6)
Fernando Verdasco (ESP x32) bt Tobias Kamke (GER) 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2
Chung Hyeon (KOR) bt Ernesto Escobedo (USA) 3-6, 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 6-4, 6-2
Rafael Nadal (ESP x2) bt John Millman (AUS) 6-3, 6-2, 6-2
Antoine Hoang (FRA) bt Leonardo Mayer (ARG) 3-6, 6-2, 6-7 (6/8), 6-1, 6-3
Henri Laaksonen (SUI) bt Marco Cecchinato (ITA) 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (8/6), 2-6, 3-6, 7-6 (7/2)
Nick Kyrgios (AUS x28) bt Steve Johnson (USA) 6-3, 7-6 (7/1), 6-4
Naomi Osaka (JPN x1) bt Anna Blinkova (RUS) 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 6-2
Magda Linette (POL) bt Astra Sharma (AUS) 6-3, 6-4
Cori Gauff (USA) bt Anastasia Potapova (RUS) 3-6, 6-2, 6-4
Timea Babos (HUN) bt Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP x28) 6-2, 0-0, retired
Anett Kontaveit (EST x21) bt Sara Sorribes (ESP) 6-1, 6-1
Alize Cornet (FRA) bt Jessica Pegula (USA) 6-2, 6-3
Belinda Bencic (SUI x13) bt Mandy Minella (LUX) 6-3, 6-2
Julia Gorges (GER x26) bt Natalia Vikhlyantseva (RUS) 1-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7/1)
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) bt Pauline Parmentier (FRA) 6-1, 7-6 (7/2)
Kiki Bertens (NED x7) bt Paula Badosa (ESP) 6-4, 6-2
Simona Halep (ROU x4) bt Nicole Gibbs (USA) 6-3, 3-6, 6-2
Aliona Bolsova (ESP) bt Barbora Strycova (CZE x31) 6-3, 0-6, 6-1
Caroline Wozniacki (DEN x19) bt Wang Yafan (CHN) 1-6, 7-5, 6-3
Bianca Andreescu (CAN x15) bt Katie Volynets (USA) 6-2, 6-4
Kristie Ahn (USA) bt Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) 7-5, 6-2
Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) bt Aleksandra Krunic (SRB) 6-3, 7-6 (9/7)
Alison Riske (USA) bt Garbine Muguruza (ESP x24) 2-6, 6-1, 6-3
Elise Mertens (BEL x25) bt Jil Teichmann (SUI) 6-2, 6-2
Kristyna Pliskova (CZE) bt Diane Parry (FRA) 6-4, 6-3
Andrea Petkovic (GER) bt Mihaela Buzarnescu (ROU) 6-3, 6-4
Petra Kvitova (CZE x6) bt Denisa Allertova (CZE) 6-2, 6-4
Donna Vekic (CRO x23) bt Richel Hogenkamp (NED) 7-6 (7/4), 6-3
Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) bt Madison Brengle (USA) 6-3, 6-3
Aryna Sabalenka (BLR x9) bt Victoria Azarenka (BLR) 3-6, 6-3, 6-4
Anna Kalinskaya (RUS) bt Sloane Stephens (USA x11) 6-3, 6-4