|Agnieszka Radwanska, at Flushing Meadows, on Wednesday
New York: New York’s fickle weather forced a delay at the US Open on Wednesday, raising the possibility that Andy Murray may not begin his title defence until the fourth day of the tournament.
Only a handful of early matches had been completed when the rain began falling at the US National Tennis Center, and with more foul weather forecast for the rest of the day, further delays could play havoc with the schedule. The biggest loser could be Murray, who ended a 76-year British drought in the Grand Slams when he won the US Open in dramatic fashion last year.
Because of the unique scheduling at the US Open, where the men’s first round is played over three days, he was not scheduled to play his opening match at Arthur Ashe Stadium until Wednesday night.
If the prediction of thunderstorms plays out, Murray might have to wait until Thursday before facing his first-round opponent Michael Llodra. The weather has been a major talking point at the US Open for years with each of the last five men’s finals spilling into a third week because of rain delays. The problem was exacerbated because of the controversial scheduling at Flushing Meadows.
Apart from playing the men’s first round over three days, the US Open was the only Grand Slam where both singles semi-finals and finals were played on successive days, leaving no room for catch-up if rain falls on the last weekend. Each of the five matches that were completed on Wednesday before the showers arrived were decided in straight sets.
China’s Li Na beat Sweden’s Sofia Arvidsson 6-2 6-2 to ease into the third round while Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska, the third seed, defeated Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor of Spain 6-0 7-5.
Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro and Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova also won through to the third round while Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus won his first-round match against Japan’s Go Soeda 6-4, 6-3, 6-1.
On Tuesday night, a teenage American girl with a squeaky voice and an incredible tale of survival stole the spotlight with a stunning upset win over the former champion, Sam Stosur. While Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic and the rest of the sport’s old order calmly went about their business, 17-year-old Victoria Duval became the toast of New York.
Making her second appearance in a Grand Slam event against the Australian who beat Serena Williams in the final just two years ago, the pint-sized Duval clawed and fought her way to a 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 first-round win. It was a remarkable performance but made all the more astonishing because of her background.
When she was seven years old, Duval was taken hostage by robbers at her aunt’s house in Haiti, a terrifying incident that convinced her parents, both doctors, to move back to the US. “It’s not a good memory, so I try to forget as much as I could about it. I don’t remember too much of it anymore, which is great,” she told reporters.
In 2010, her father was buried alive in the Haiti earthquake. He survived by digging himself out but suffered serious injuries, including broken legs, broken ribs and a punctured lung. With her family watching from courtside and chants of “U-S-A!” echoing around the Louis Armstrong Stadium, Duval had to battle all the way to beat the vastly more-experienced Stosur.
Djokovic lit up Tuesday night session with a dazzling combination of power and precision to defeat Lithuania’s Ricardas Berankis 6-1, 6-2, 6-2. Victoria Azarenka made a triumphant return to Arthur Ashe Stadium, chalking up a rare double-bagel win by thrashing Germany’s Dinah Pfizenmaier 6-0, 6-0 in just over an hour.
Italy’s Sara Errani showed why she is looming as a real contender as she also handed out a 6-0, 6-0 thrashing to her Australian opponent Olivia Rogowska, who got into the draw as a ‘lucky loser’ when Japan’s Ayumi Morita withdrew. (Reuters)