The first day of action at the U.S. Open was marked by a huge surprise, but what really cast a shadow upon the day was the high amount of retirements it brought.
The surprise came from the racquet of Benoît Paire, who saved two match points and, for the first time in his career, logged a top 5 win by upsetting last year’s runner-up Kei Nishikori 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 7-6(8), 6-4. A great match from the Frenchman, and a much deserved win.
However, the story of the day were the retirements. On the men’s side alone, there have been no less than six players who have thrown the towel during their first-round matches: Gaël Monfils, Alexandr Dolgopolov, Pablo Andújar, Rendy Lu, Radek Stepanek, and Florian Mayer. There has also been a retirement on the women’s side, when Vitalia Diatchenko gave up after eight games against Serena Williams.
This raises an important question: is the prize money that the players receive for a first-round appearance an incentive for some to take the court despite an injury, play a few games, and give up? Diatchenko’s performance is the one which makes us think about it the most (after all, she was down 6-0 2-0 when she retired).
It is probably a matter to ponder for each of the majors, as it is not the first Slam in which we see first-round retirements, just not that many in one day.
In this view, we can only admire a player like Vasek Pospisil, who was visibly cramping, just as visibly in pain, and could have stopped, but played on, only to lose the fourth and fifth sets 6-0 and 6-1 against Andreas Haider-Maurer.
Important results of Day 1
- Defending champion Marin Cilic advanced to the second round after defeating Guido Pella 6-3, 7-6(3), 7-6(3).
- World number one Novak Djokovic needed only 1h11 to crush João Souza 6-1, 6-1, 6-1.
- Playing his last career tournament, Mardy Fish defeated Marco Cecchinato 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 to advance to the second round, where he will face Feliciano López.
- In his first match since Nottingham, David Ferrer had the better of Radu Albot 4-6, 7-5, 6-1, 6-0.
- Milos Raonic logged the 200th win of his career with a 6-4, 7-6(8), 6-1 triumph over Tim Smyczek.
- Rafael Nadal avenged his Basel defeat, winning 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 against Borna Coric in one of his best matches this season.