Tennis

Nadal up and running in quick time

Giant-killer: Thomas Fabbiano produced one of the big upsets in the first round by taking out fourth seed Dominic Thiem on Tuesday.

Giant-killer: Thomas Fabbiano produced one of the big upsets in the first round by taking out fourth seed Dominic Thiem on Tuesday.  

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Thiem and Tsitsipas’ campaign cut short; defending champion Osaka struggles

Rafael Nadal launched his tilt at a fourth US Open title on 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 to ease Nadal’s potential path to the final.

The Spanish second seed — 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 No. 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. “I think I played well and in general am very happy with the way I started.

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.

Finding fault

Greek eighth seed Tsitsipas struggled with cramps and accused umpires of having “preferences” after he fell to a 6-4, 6-7(5), 7-6(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.

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(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.

Reigning women’s US Open champion Naomi Osaka confronted severe nerves as she overcame Russia’s Anna Blinkova, the World No. 84.

Osaka suffered a first-round exit last month at Wimbledon and the Japanese star struggled to put away Blinkova before prevailing 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-2.

“I have a lot of really good memories here because I grew up in this area. I don’t think I’ve ever been this nervous in my life,” said Osaka, sporting a black brace on her left knee.

Halep moves up

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.

Sloane Stephens, the 2017 champion, slid to a 6-3, 6-4 loss to Russian qualifier Anna Kalinskaya.

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2020 1:56:43 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/tennis/nadal-up-and-running-in-quick-time/article29281605.ece

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