Day-1. 2016 US Open

Day-1 of the 2016 US Open is in the books, after concluding (technically) on Day-2. Here on center court, Roberta Vinci relived the magic of her Finals appearance a year ago. World #2 Angelique Kerber advanced. 2-time champ Rafael Nadal executed a straight-forward win over Denis Istomin. Phil Collins launched the fortnight with our Opening Ceremony. Defending champion Novak Djokovic struggled through a 4-set win over Poland’s Jerzy Janowicz. And Madison Keys won the latest ladies match in US Open history, overcoming fellow-American Alison Riske at 1:48 Tuesday morning…

R1: [7] Roberta Vinci (ITA) def Anna-Lena Friedsam (GER)

Final: 6-2, 6-4. Roberta Vinci loves this court. Last year, she did the impossible: Defeated Serena Williams in the Semifinals to reach her first career Grand Slam Singles Final at the 2015 US Open. She and Flavia Pennetta played an endearing all-Italian final here in Ashe. Though she lost, the milestone will always be a lasting memory for the pint-sized counter-puncher from Taranto, peaking in the twilight of her career.

R1: [2] Angelique Kerber (GER) def Polona Hercog (SLO)

Final: 6-0, 1-0 RET. Angellique Kerber is the #2 player in the world, and comes into the year’s final Grand Slam after a remarkable season. Back in January, she won her first Grand Slam title, defeating Serena Williams to win the Australian Open. She’d go-on to win her 9th WTA Singles Title in Stuttgart, reach the Final at Wimbledon, earn Olympic Silver in Rio; and last week, reach her 23rd career Singles Final in Cincinnati. In her 10th US Open, with the year she’s been having, Kerber hopes to best her Semifinal-run here in Flushing five-years-ago.

R1: [4] Rafael Nadal (ESP) def Denis Istomin (UZB)

Final: 6-1, 6-4, 6-2. Imperfect at times, yet dominant nonetheless. 30-year-old Rafael Nadal owned Denis Istomin on Monday, earning his 44th career win in Flushing. Rafa has won 2 of his 14 Grand Slam Titles on Arthur Ashe Stadium, and proudly told ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi after the win that he was, in fact, the first player ever to hit on this court with the new roof closed – and he has the video to back it up. Admittedly, it was a big moment for the Mallorcan…perhaps not as big as winning his second Olympic Gold Medal with partner Marc Lopez two-weeks-ago in Rio; but a cool-moment for the personal archives. He loves this city, it’s energy and the passionate fans.

Opening Night Ceremony

R1: [1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) def Jerzy Janowicz (POL)

Final: 6-3, 5-7, 6-2, 6-1. Novak Djokovic has had issues with his left wrist since injuring it during practice at the Olympic Games in Rio. There, he fell in the First-Round to eventual Silver Medalist Juan Martin Del Potro. Monday night, before the end of the first-set, the World #1 called the trainer to court…to work on his RIGHT wrist. Interesting. The 12-time Grand Slam champ, and defending US Open Champion, need 2-hours and 37-minutes to take-out Jerzy Janowicz – who’s been out for most of the season with injuries of his own. After four-sets, the match ended at 10:59p. Novak joked with ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi how Phil Collins was a tough act to follow…then busted into one of the stiffest renditions of “I Can’t Dance” ever captured on video. The 2-time US Open champ is always good for a few laughs after a night-session win in Ashe.

R1: [8] Madison Keys (USA) def Alison Riske (USA)

Final: 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-2. Madison Keys was dangerously close to suffering a devastating First-Round loss Monday night / Tuesday morning. The match finished at 1:48a – the latest women’s match in US Open history. Alison Riske was all smiles, swinging freely and hitting her spots. She fearlessly captured the first set 6-4, and was playing extremely well against the World #9. Madison, who two-weeks-ago had a heart-breaking loss in Rio’s Bronze Medal match, received several visits from the trainer to work on her right shoulder. A shocking upset felt inevitable. Battling through the pain, Madison eventually turned it around, picked-up set-2 in the tie-break (at 1:15a), refocused, and dominated the third; earning the three-set, 2-hour and 26-minute win at 1:48 in the morning. Day-1 finally done.

  • Saisai Zheng (CHN) def [32] Monica Puig (PUR) 6-4, 6-2. A tough loss for the Olympic Gold Medalist. Zheng attributed Monday’s court-confidence to her straight-sets win over Agnieszka Radwanska in Round-1 of the Olympic Games in Rio.
  • [3] Garbine Muguruza def World #137 Elise Mertens (BEL). A slow start for the French Open Champion, after losing the first set 2-6.
  • [26] Jack Sock (USA) def Taylor Fritz (USA) 7-6(3), 7-5, 3-6, 1-6, 6-4. An epit Round-1 all-American battle.
  • [20] John Isner (USA) def Frances Tiafoe (USA) 3-6, 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-2, 7-6(3). An even MORE epic Round-1 all-American battle.
  • Kyle Edmund (GBR) def [13] Richard Gasquet (FRA) 6-2, 6-2, 6-3.
  • Monica Niculescu (ROU) def [18] Barbora Strycova (CZE) 6-3, 6-7(3), 6-1. Always a tricky opponent, Niculescu gave the Olympic Doubles Bronze Medalist fits – dominating the deciding set.
  • Naomi Osaka (JPN) def [28] Coco Vandeweghe (USA) 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-4. Tough one to swallow for Vandeweghe.
  • #158 Cici Bellis (USA) def #65 Viktorija Golubic (SUI) 6-2, 6-3. On paper, this was a gimme for Golubic. But CiCi has a history here in New York. Two-years-ago, as a 15-year-old Wild Card, Bellis defeated Dominika Cibulkova in Round-1. Now 17, she looks to improve on that run, while still struggling with her options: Go pro, or go to college?
  • Shelby Rogers (USA) def [27] Sara Errani (ITA) 6-4, 7-6(3). Big win for Rogers.
  • #120 Ryan Harrison def World #54 Adrian Mannarino 6-4, 7-6(5), 6-3. After playing through qualifying, Ryan’s in rhythm. He used his “time on-court” here in New York to dominate the Frenchman. Tuesday, he’ll be cheering on his brother Christian, who also advanced through qualifying. Christian’s taking on another Frenchman, Paul-Henri Mathieu.
  • The Professor, 34-year-old Mikhail Youzhny (RUS) def World #27 Martin Klizan 6-2, 6-1, 6-1. Salute! The elder statesman continues to win…without bloodying his own face in frustration.