Play is under-way at the US Open and we already have the first upset of the tournament. Kei Nishikori, the eleventh seeded star has been shown the exit door by the unheralded Brit Daniel Evans. The 179th ranked qualifier upset the Japanese player 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 in under two hours on court 13 of the Billie Jean King Tennis Centre at Flushing Meadows.
Nishikori had a miserable match, his 38 unforced errors included a double fault at match point. The Japanese was up a break early in the first set, but Evans fought back to draw level at 4-4. The Brit gained two set points with an brilliant backhand volley and had the set in the bag when Nishikori sailed one long to end the set. With his nose in front, the 23 year old from Birmingham showed remarkable calm as he kept plugging away to get the biggest victory of his career.
Another British prospect, Laura Robson also made a winning start. The 30th seed defeated Spaniard Lourdes Dominguez Lino 7-5, 6-0 to progress to the next round. Chinese star Li Na made short work of her opponent Olga Govortsova to sail into the second round. Li was too good for her Belarusian opponent, as she coasted to a 6-2, 6-2 victory in just 65 minutes. The Chinese star lost just seven points on her serve, racking up 28 winners in the process. Li was assisted by 17 unforced errors from the bleeding racket of her vanquished opponent.
Polish star Agnieszka Radwanska, seeded third, also had a relatively easy passage as she knocked the stuffing out of her Spanish opponent Silvia Soler-Espinosa to march ahead with a 6-1, 6-2 victory in just a little over an hour. In stark contrast the 25th seeded Kaia Kanepi needed more than two hours to edge past the stubborn American Vania King 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-1 and reach the second round. The Estonian is seeking to emulate her best showing at the US Open, which was a quarter-final appearance at the event in 2010.
Meanwhile the first double bagel of this edition was served up by the merciless Carla Suarez Navarro. The 18th seeded Spaniard defeated Lauren Davis 6-0, 6-0 in under an hour with a relentless display of power tennis from the back of the court. The teenaged American, who turned pro in 2011 has now lost in the first round of each of the grand slam tournaments this year.
The day was made solemn by the announcement of James Blake’s retirement from the game at the end of the US Open. The 100th ranked American has battled injury and a ravaged body for 15 long years on the tour before finally drawing the curtain on a fighting career that saw as many up and down moments as the dense himalayan mountain range.