Day-4. 2016 US Open

So…as if it weren’t loud enough with the new roof, on Thursday we learned that monsoonal downpours “crank it up to 11” here on Ashe. During Andy Murray’s second-round match, roof closed, the rain came hard and fast. Murray and Granollers looked-up at chair-umpire Mariana Alves, as if to ask her to once again request silence from the fans. No dice. The cacophony was nothing more than a New York Summer deluge; loud enough to drown-out the nat-sound of play on the court. But hey…it was raining and we were playing tennis at the US Open. Winner.

Routine wins dominated the day on Ashe, while the rain made it a late night on the grounds. Simona Halep, Andy Murray, Juan Martin Del Potro and the Williams sisters all advanced to Round-3 on Thursday…

[5] Simona Halep (ROU) def Lucie Safarova (CZE)

Final 6-3, 6-4. Halep jumped out to a 3-0 lead, and cruised through the first set. In the second, Safarova stepped-up her service game, held to 4-all, but couldn’t overcome her nerves serving to stay in the match. Down 4-5, 15-40, Lucie threw-down a double-fault, gifting Halep with a spot in Round-3.

[2] Andy Murray (GBR) def Marcel Granollers (ESP)

Final 6-3, 6-1, 6-4. Like Simona, Andy Murray got off to a quick start Monday, up 3-0 at the first change-over. Down 3-5, up against the ropes, Granollers saved set-point and delivered a clutch-break to keep set-1 alive. Serving to stay in it, down 4-5, locked in an exhausting deuce battle, Granollers fought-off three more set-points, but couldn’t fend-off the fourth. Murray took the set with a break.

At the start of the second, it began to absolutely POUR in Flushing. It was the first time we were treated with a deluge on the roof of Ashe…and to put it mildly: It was deafening. Distracting to both players, they had to ask chair umpire Mariana Alves what was going on. Despite the noise, it was incredibly liberating to see play continue with a world-class monsoon pounding the grounds. Oh…and Murray won the set 6-1, in half the time of the opener.

Set-three was competitive, but the two-time Olympic Gold Medalist was too good. Andy won it with an ace, advancing to Round-3. After the match, Murray described the conditions as “much less heavy” under the roof, which may have contributed to his inconsistency with first serves – something to improve upon with Paolo Lorenzi (ITA) on Saturday.

[6] Venus Williams (USA) def Julia Goerges (GER)

Final 6-2, 6-3. Following the daily trend, Venus shot-out to an early lead on Thursday, earning the first-set in just 34-minutes. In set-2, she broke Goerges right after the first change-over and leapt ahead 4-1. Up 5-3, serving for the match, Venus fell behind 15-40. Three heavy first-serves later, she earned match point #1. Two points later, she was on to Round-3. It was Venus’ 70th career match win at the US Open.

[1] Serena Williams (USA) def Vania King (USA)

Final 6-3, 6-3. These two Fed Cup teammates enjoyed a little deja-vu Thursday night. They played once before – right here in Arthur Ashe Stadium during Round-2 of the 2014 US Open. No roof / Roof closed = Same result. While Vania was only able to win a single game two-years-ago, she made it more competitive tonight, earning a few service games over the 22-time Grand Slam Champion.

Oh, and by the way…Serena is now tied with Martina Navratilova with 306 career match-wins at the Slams. Over the next year, so many legendary records are set to fall.

Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG) def [19] Steve Johnson (USA)

Final 7-6(5), 6-3, 6-2. You gotta feel for Steve Johnson. Last month, he made his Olympic debut in Rio, and as the #1 American on tour, earned Doubles Bronze with partner Jack Sock; this after winning his first ATP World Tour Singles title in Nottingham and a Round of 16 run at Wimbledon. He carried momentum into the Open, punctuated by a huge turn-around in his opening match on Tuesday. Down 2-sets-to-love, 2-5 in the third, Steve saved six match points and rallied to defeat Evgeny Donskoy in a 5th and deciding set. But – like Novak Djokovic in Rio – he had the unluckiest of draws, forced to face Juan Martin Del Potro in Round-2.

The reality is, Del Potro’s ranking is just a number on a page. After his Silver Medal campaign in Rio, defeating both Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, clearly – for now – the left-wrist is a non-issue. He’s playing top-5 tennis, with a potentially stronger game than we saw in 2009 when he captured the US Open title, ending Roger Federer’s 5-year win-streak in Flushing. Rightly so, Delpo is the one to watch at this year’s Open. David Ferrer is next…

  • 12:51am. Court-13. [11] David Ferrer (ESP) def Fabio Fognini (ITA) 3-6, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-4. Needless to say, Thursday’s rain had an impact on the schedule. This one got started later than expected, but David’s epic comeback made it a match to remember at the 2016 US Open.
  • Jared Donaldson (USA) def Viktor Troiki (SRB) 7-5, 6-3, 6-3. Unreal. Huge break-through Slam for the 19-year-old.
  • Shuai Zheng (CHN) def 2011 US Open Champion [16] Sam Stosur (AUS) 6-3, 6-3. Big win for World #51 Shauai Zheng…and a little awkward, too. She and Sam are doubles partners here at the 2016 US Open.
  • Varvara Lepchenko (USA) def [15] Timea Bacsinszky (SUI) 6-4, 4-6, 6-4. Stating the obvious: Tough loss for the 15-seed, after winning Doubles Bronze with Martina Hingis at the Olympic Games in Rio.
  • Joao Souza (POR) def [16] Feliciano Lopez (ESP) 6-2, 6-4, 1-6, 7-5. Souza’s got Feliciano’s number. Lopez fell in Tokyo last Fall. Nearly a year later, Souza won again to reach Round-3 here in Flushing for the second time. He’ll need to get through Grigor Dimitrov to enjoy his best Grand Slam showing to date.
  • Daniel Evans (GBR) def [27] Alexander Zverev (GER) 6-4, 6-4, 5-7, 6-2. So there are three Brits into Round-3 at the 2016 US Open. Dan joins Andy Murray and Kyle Edmund, reaching the 3rd-Round of a Grand Slam for the third time. He fell to Tommy Robredo here in 2013’s 3rd-Round, and in July, lost in three-sets to Roger Federer in Round-3 at Wimbledon.
  • Taylor Fritz and Tommy Paul (USA) def [6] Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil (CAN) 2-2 RET. Shame the Canucks had to quit – Nestor had to bail on the match with a calf-strain. Big opportunity for a pair of American young guns.
  • Paolo Lorenzi (ITA) def [30] Gilles Simon (FRA) 3-6, 6-2, 6-02, 6-7(1), 7-6(3). Finally, an epic 5-setter that didn’t involve Americans on opposite ends of the court. This one turned into a thriller in the final two sets.