- Serena Williams starts her campaign, but Venus Williams exits in the opener
- Kim Clijsters also falls in the first round
- Players united in their support for the popular Carla Suarez Navarro following the news of her Hodgkin Lymphoma diagnosis
NEW YORK, USA – The first round comes to an end, with champions and Slam winners advancing, but some notable names ending their NYC experience early.
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Two-time Slam winner Garbiñe Muguruza had a bit of a slow start before picking up the pace to make her return to the tour. Forgetting there were no ball-kids to pick up towels reminding her of younger days, but it was a good opener given that her plans to come back at Lexington were stymied by an ankle injury.
Serena Williams started her quest to equal the now-seemingly mythical 24 Slams and although she was broken by Kristie Ahn twice at the start of each set, she put her battles in the build-up to the US Open to good use with a straight-sets win to get going.
Williams said in her post-match press conference: “It was just getting the rhythm in the early part of the match. First round is always tough for me. I think Kristie, she really strikes the ball really hard. She mixes up a lot. She plays a lot of the different shots. You don’t really know what to expect.”
“I really thought her game was really, really, really good to the point where I had to make sure. I was down a break at one point, so I was really fighting for everything.”
Andy Murray had to come back from two-sets down, amazingly in a score-line that was mirroring his last five-setter against Roberto Bautista Agut in Australia 2019. It was a typically gritty response and predictably emotional for the former World No. 1, as he explained after the match.
“I think it was pretty emotional straight after the match finished. When I got back to the locker room, sort of look at my phone, see the messages from family and friends, the team and stuff. They’re the people that have kind of seen me go through everything, been there, seen the tough times. I don’t know how many of us actually believed I’d be back kind of winning matches like that.
“When you read the messages from your family and friends and stuff, yeah, that’s kind of when you feel it. Today’s win meant a lot. Like I said, a lot’s gone into it.”
Two-time champion Venus Williams was aiming to become only the third woman in her 40s to win a US Open singles match, but against talented 24-year-old Karolina Muchova, her campaign ended, and it was just the second time in 22 appearances that she failed to reach the second round.
She had moved ahead of Martina Navratilova for the most US Open singles tournaments played in a career and has only missed the US Open twice (2003, abdominal injury and 2006 with a wrist injury).
She told reporters: “I’ve been here for a while now without playing a match. That was long, a long time to practice and be in the bubble for almost two weeks without playing a match. So I was excited to get out there and play my match. Obviously, a late night tonight.
“But, yeah, it’s still fun to be out there. I enjoy it. My opponent is a great player. We had some good tennis out there. Yeah, that’s what it’s all about, is trying to bring good tennis.”
In the midst of the fall out because of the breakaway Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA) it was heart-warming to see the reaction from both sides of the tours regarding the news from Carla Suárez Navarro that she has been diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma.
Me toca afrontar una realidad complicada. Toca aceptarlo e intentar salir adelante confiando en el consejo médico. Siempre con positivismo ante la adversidad. 💪🏻💪🏻
Patience and self-belief guided me through my career. Not the easiest rival to deal with. I’ll need my truly best. pic.twitter.com/lF9oVChWRh
— Carla Suárez Navarro (@CarlaSuarezNava) September 1, 2020
She faces six months of chemotherapy and messages from players and fans alike poured in at the news.
Muguruza, who played doubles with her fellow countrywoman dedicated her win today to her, and said:
“When we spoke a few days ago when she gave me the news, I was, I think, shocked, because I was expecting to see her in this tournament. You know, she’s such a nice woman, so sweet, so kind, so humble.
“When these things happen to these good people, I feel, like, so sad about it. So I know she was watching my match, and we talked a little bit.
“I, for sure, will dedicate this win to her, because I want her to feel that we are behind her, that I am behind her, and I will go and see her at some point when it is fine.
“For me, it’s very special. We shared a decade of emotions and everything. It’s a shock for me, somebody so close that is going through this.”
Play continues at the US Open on Day 3 at 11am (4pm BST).
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