New York: Great Britain, buoyed by the Andy Murray feelgood factor, celebrated US Open first-round wins for Laura Robson and qualifier Daniel Evans on Monday as Agnieszka Radwanska and Li Na cruised into the second round.
As the first day of the final Grand Slam of the season got underway at Flushing Meadows, Robson, the first British woman to be seeded at a major for 26 years, won nine games in succession to beat Spanish veteran Lourdes Dominguez Lino, 7-5, 6-0.
The 30th seed, who ended Kim Clijsters’ career in New York 12 months ago on her way to the last 16, next faces either France’s Caroline Garcia or Shelby Rogers of the United States.
But she was over-shadowed, however, when world No. 179 Evans, making his debut after coming through qualifying, swept past Japanese 11th seed Kei Nishikori, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2.
Nishikori, who made the third round, last year, committed 38 unforced errors.
The 23-year-old Evans had never won a main draw match at the Grand Slams until Monday and his reward is a second-round clash against either Australia’s Bernard Tomic or Albert Ramos of Spain.
Polish third seed Radwanska, who has never got beyond the last-16 in New York, eased past Silvia Soler-Espinosa 6-1, 6-2 and next faces another Spaniard, Maria Teresa Torro-Flor.
“I think two-sets match for the first match is always good,” Radwanska said. “I prepared very good. I’m ready now to play here and hopefully I can play same good tennis.”
Chinese fifth seed Li also reached the second round with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Olga Govortsova of Belarus.
Li, a quarter-finalist in 2009, next plays Sofia Arvidsson of Sweden.
Meanwhile, 12 months after 2003 champion Andy Roddick quit the sport, another US veteran, James Blake, announced his retirement on Monday.
The 33-year-old, who reached as high as four in the world back in 2006 but now stands at 100, won 10 Tour titles and made the US Open quarter-finals the same year.
“This is my last tournament,” said Blake. “I have had 14 pretty darn good years on Tour, loved every minute of it, and I definitely couldn’t have asked for a better career.”
Blake plays Croatia’s Ivo Karlovic in the first round. One of the most respected players on the circuit, Blake was inspired to take up tennis after hearing Arthur Ashe address a group of young players at a tennis clinic in Harlem. He turned professional in 1999 after attending Harvard University but endured plenty of hardship along the way. He was diagnosed with curvature of the spine when he was a child and broke his neck in a freak accident in Rome in 2004, the same year his father died, but said his experiences gave him a sense of perspective in a sport where players earn millions of dollars and travel the world.
“I think that time being part of the biggest tragedies of my life to this point also clued me in to how lucky I am right now to be doing this on my terms, because my career could have ended twice in 2004.
“I was millimetres from breaking my neck in the way that would have left me paralysed for the rest of my life,” he said.
“When that happened and I was able to get back in a few months, I knew how lucky I was. Unfortunately, it was also the time my father passed away.” (agencies)