Venus Williams, Muguruza win on day of upsets
It was an opening day of major upsets but Garbine Muguruza, Venus Williams and Alexander Zverev sailed through to the second round of the 2017 U.S Open. Second seed, Simona Halep was sent out by Maria Sharapova, while Britain’s Johanna Konta fell in three sets to Aleksandra Krunic of Slovakia.
Muguruza opened proceedings in the Arthur Ashe Stadium and stamped her dominance over Varvara Lepchenko in two straight sets, 6/0; 6/2.
The Wimbledon champion played aggressively, in a manner proclaiming she is on a mission to do well in New York and win her third Grand Slam. The Tashkent-born 21-year-old American lost the first set in 21 minutes but put up a battle in the 42nd-minute second set.
There was so much hype about the match between Venus Williams, the ninth seed and the 19-year-old Viktoria Kuzmova, who entered the main draw after playing three rounds of the qualifying rounds. It was expected that power and experience would give Venus the advantage.
Williams opened with a first serve (115mph) and dropped two points before clinching the first game. The nervous teenager fell behind 0-40 on her serve, but cancelled the three break points and then there was a legion of advantages.
Williams had the first advantage but it was annulled with an ace. Kuzmova had the next but lost it. Williams had three consecutive opportunities but could not close until the server had her second and held.
It was the pattern throughout the match. A break in the fourth game and a service hold gave Williams a 4-1 lead and eventually the set 6-3.
Kuzmova lost her serve in the opening game of second set but broke Williams’ serve in the fourth to level. She fought back from 15-40 to win her serve and lead 3-2 for the frist time in the match. Williams leveled three-all, but was broken in the eighth game, and the set was won by her opponent 6-3.
In the decider, Williams raised her game and raced to 3-0. The youngster did not recover and the set ended 6-2 for Williams. The youthful hope delivered a total of 10 aces in the duel that lasted one hour and 43 minutes.
It was a David and Goliath affair in the match between Britain’s Johanna Konta and Aleksandra Krunic, the petite teenager ranked 78th in the world and standing only feet four inches (1.63m).
Konta won the first set 6-4 in 43 minutes. Krunic won the second 6/3. The third set was drawn out over 50 minutes and Konta lost 4/6. It was an epic battle for two hours and 17 minutes.
The heart-break of opening day was Simona Halep’s exit; considering her potential ascendancy to the number one if she had reached the fourth round. It was the ill-luck of the draw she got that pitted her against Maria Sharapova.
We would have to dig far back in the archives to find if ever a second seed faced a Grand Slam winner in the first round. In a long drawn-out match, the Russian took the first set 6-4. Halep fought back to take the second 6-4. A single break gave Sharapova the third set 6-3 and an emotional victory after two hours and 44 minutes. It was the seventh straight time the Romanian would lose to Sharapova in their professional career.