2023 US Open Day 1 Talking Points

A COUPLE of huge upsets have already gone down at Flushing Meadows as the US Open got underway with the opening day of action completing in the Australia early afternoon hours today. Some big seeds bowed out, others came from behind and there were no shortage of talking points.

Masarova sinks Sakkari

The biggest upset on day one by far was Spaniard Rebeka Masarova‘s 97-minute straight sets victory over eighth seed, Maria Sakkari. Many expected the Greek star to breeze through into the second round, and in fairness she did not do a lot wrong. But the world number 71 was ultra-consistent on serve, serving four aces and winning 67 and 63 per cent of his first and second serve points.

Making the most of her chances, Masarova broke from all three opportunities, while Sakkari could only convert one of her three chances off her opponent’s serve. Masarova hit 22 winners to 15 and only had three more unforced errors (21-18) in what was a massive win for her. The Spaniard advances to the second round to face Slovakian, Anna Karolina Schmiedlova.

Stef looks to the future, routes Raonic

Greek seventh seed Stefanos Tsitsipas showed he is not looking in the past following a straight sets win over Canadian Milos Raonic. The Top 10 talent had not previously won a set against the Canadian in two previous encounters and lost his first round match her 12 months ago to Colombian world number 94, Daniel Elahi Galan.

Putting that aside, Tsitsipas put forward his title credentials to weather Raonic’s eight aces and 32 winners – the seventh seed hit seven and 25 himself respectively – to win in straight sets, 6-2 6-3 6-4. He now takes on Swiss player Dominic Stricker who ground his way past Australian Alexei Popyrin, 6-3 6-4 3-6 6-2 in two hours and four minutes.

Bia’s best sends Sloane packing

Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia needed almost three hours to topple American Sloane Stephens and advance through to the next stage. The 19th seed won 6-2 5-7 6-4 against the 2017 US Open champion, winning 61 and 52 per cent of her first and second serve points off a 72 per cent clip.

Stephens on the other hand could not find the consistency off her serve, with just 57 and 49 per cent success from the same metric, while hitting 10 less winners (30-40) and only two less unforced errors (38-40). Haddad Maia has another American coming up in the round of 64 with Taylor Townsend beating former Russian now French representative Varvara Gracheva in straight sets.

Thiem time causes Bublik boilover

Austrian Grand Slam winner Dominic Thiem took a positive step towards resurrecting his career coming back from injury, defeating Kazakh Alexander Bublik in straight sets. Thiem won 6-3 6-2 6-4 in an hour and 52 minutes, but the biggest talking point came in the opening set when Bublik was on serve and down, 1-5.

Picked up on court audio was Bublik uttering the phrase “I’m ****ing sick of getting all these disabled people back in their career,” referring to the fact he has lost to long-term injury past stars, Gael Monfils, Stan Wawrinka and now Thiem as they return to the Tour. In response, Thiem said in his post-match press onference that if true it was “disrespectful”. Thiem takes on popular American rising star Ben Shelton in the second round.

Brady’s back, back again

American Jennifer Brady made an emotional return to her home Grand Slam, playing in her first US Open since 2020, the home court hero won in a tight two-set match over Kimberly Birrell out on Court 5. Brady won 6-3 7-6 in one hour and 54 minutes, hitting 26 winners to 19 and serving four aces in the win. It was far from perfect, but the former world number 13 as glad to be back.

“Playing out on Court 5 was an unbelievable atmosphere,” Brady said post-matc. “I think, you know, some people maybe say it’s not a good court or they’re not good enough for that court, but it was unbelievable playing in front of the American crowd. Everyone was cheering for me, supporting me.”

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