New York: Mark Philippoussis’ US Open ended in agony on Tuesday when the Australian injured his problematic left knee during his first-round match with Sjeng Schalken.
Runner-up here in 1998, Philippoussis, nicknamed the Scud, was leading by two sets to one and 2-2 when he leaped for a Schalken lob. The Australian did not attempt a smash, but when he landed his left knee buckled and he collapsed on the ground grimacing in pain. While trailing 4-3 in the fourth set, trainer Doug Spreen told Philippoussis to consider calling it a day.
Schalken held for 5-3 and Philippoussis finally threw in the towel, shaking his head and moving to the net to shake Schalken’s hand.
Second seed Marat Safin of Russia advanced to the second round beating German Nicolas Kiefer 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4).
Ninth seed Carlos Moya recovered from a slow start to oust Romania’s Adrian Voinea 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6. The Spanish baseliner needed two hours 22 minutes to down Voinea on a sun-baked court 11 and next faces Jan-Michael Gambill. Gambill booked his spot after just 38 minutes when his Austrian opponent Julian Knowle retired while trailing 6-1, 2-1.
Seventh seed Kim Clijsters trounced Spain’s Conchita Martinez Granados 6-1, 6-0 to ease into the second round.
On Monday night, Serena Williams dazzled New York’s hot dog-munching, cat-calling US Open crowd, flooring fellow American Corina Morariu 6-2, 6-3 in a brutal floodlit first round display.
The world number one waited patiently in the wings at the start of the night session as the Flushing Meadows crowd paid tribute to those killed in the September 11 attacks last year.
One of the two American flags recovered from the remains of the Twin Towers was carried into the stadium in an emotional scene amid members of the New York police and fire departments.
But once Serena, shimmering in a short-legged, all-in-one, black leather-look, skin-tight outfit, was let loose all eyes were on the court.
The brave Morariu, playing her first Grand Slam since recovering from leukaemia earlier this year, was powerless against a barrage of heavy hitting and vicious serving from the pink-shoed top seed.
Earlier on Monday, Lindsay Davenport, Jelena Dokic and Justine Henin wasted little time tearing past stunned opponents.
Sixth seed Andre Agassi thumped compatriot Robby Ginepri 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 in a straightforward final match of the night, but not all the leading men had things their own way as Albert Costa and James Blake dropped sets on the road to the second round.
Fourth seed Davenport needed just 41 minutes to demolish Denmark’s Eva Dyrberg 6-2, 6-1 in a performance of power and precision on Arthur Ashe court.
Her whirlwind victory followed Belgian eighth seed Henin’s 67-minute 6-1, 6-2 walloping of America’s Samantha Reeves.
Fifth seed Dokic was no less convincing, thrashing Germany’s Greta Arn 6-2, 6-2.
Costa, the eighth seed, moved into the second round with a 6-2, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 win over Magnus Norman of Sweden. James Blake, seeded 25, had to survive a bout of cramps and a spirited display by fellow American Brian Vahaly to squeeze through 6-7, 6-3, 6-3, 7-6.
The tournament’s glamour quotient took a heavy blow on the opening day when the unseeded Anna Kournikova slumped out after an embarrassing and lacklustre 3-6, 0-6 defeat by teenage Indonesian Angelique Widjaja.
The Russian had never suffered a first round defeat at Flushing Meadows since her debut in 1996, but threw in 40 unforced errors to allow the 17-year-old Widjaja to clinch victory.
American teenager Ashley Harkleroad also bowed out, slumping 3-6, 2-6 to Iva Majoli.
As the clock inched towards midnight, Agassi wrapped up his opening match in 84 minutes after some customary powerful hitting from the baseline and accurate serving. “You know 9.30... it is not an easy start-time. I am used to pushing away from the dinner table at around that time,” he said afterwards.