Two Asian teenagers have advanced to the second round of the US Open, set to make warnings of a rising young generation of stars come true on tennis’ biggest stage.
Japanese qualifier Yoshihito Nishioka outlasted France’s Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-4, 2-6, 6-7 (7/9), 6-1, 6-2 after three hours and 22 minutes in sweltering heat while South Korea’s Chung Hyeon ripped Australian James Duckworth 6-3, 6-1, 6-2 in 96 minutes.
A quick Korean recipe for cooking Duck: Hyeon Chung. Prevails 6-3, 6-1, 6-2 over James Duckworth for his first #USOpen win.
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) September 1, 2015
Chung, ranked 69th, and 128th ranked left-hander Nishioka – both 19 – are the lone remaining teens among 10 that reached the men’s main draw, the most at the US Open since 12 teens made the lineup in the 1990 tournament.
One of them, Pete Sampras, won his first of 14 Slams at age 19.
“We didn’t have one generation like this for a while. They are here now. That’s good for tennis,” said Spanish star Rafael Nadal, who won the first of his 14 career Slam titles at age 19 at the 2005 French Open.
“The best player will be the one that improves. That’s the thing that will make the difference for this new generation.”
Nishioka, who turns 20 on September 27, will face Brazilian 30th seed Thomaz Bellucci in the second round and there is a possibility he could meet third seed Andy Murray in the third round.
It was the first main-draw Slam victory for Nishioka, who made his Slam debut at last year’s US Open. “I’m very happy to win the first round because it’s the first time I’ve won in a Grand Slam,” Nishioka said.
Swiss fifth seed Stan Wawrinka will be the next foe for Chung, who fired 10 aces in advancing without facing a break point. “He’s really good mentally,” Duckworth said of Chung.
“He doesn’t get down when something goes wrong. He has won a lot of matches to get into the top 100. That has to build up a lot of confidence.”
Nick Kyrgios insists his bad-boy reputation is “ridiculous” but admits he has learned the merits of keeping his mouth shut.
Kyrgios lost 7-5, 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 to Andy Murray in the US Open first round on Tuesday night to conclude a chaotic month for the volatile 20-year-old.
An ugly spat with Stan Wawrinka, in which Kyrgios made vulgar remarks about the Swiss’ girlfriend, has become the latest in a long list of misdemeanours.
Some of the American crowd appeared reluctant to support the world No. 37 on Arthur Ashe but Kyrgios believes negativity associated with him and fellow Australian Bernard Tomic is unfair.
“Myself and Bernard, it’s so funny because Bernard, he’s harmless,” Kyrgios said. “He’s just a normal kid. I don’t really understand where he gets this reputation from, or where I get it from at all.
“We show emotion out there. We might not be the most usual tennis players you see but somehow we got this reputation that’s just ridiculous.”
Kyrgios has expressed regret for his exchange with Wawrinka but insisted he felt no embarrassment for what happened.
“I’d like to think that I’m going to learn from it. I think I have,” Kyrgios said. “I think I’m on the right path. I don’t think any of us in this room right now were perfect at 20. Speak up if you were…Thought so. What have I learned? Keep your mouth shut at times.”
Kyrgios has enlisted the help of Australian veteran Lleyton Hewitt and his newly-appointed “mentor” was watching on from the players’ box as his ward took on the world No3. It seemed to have little effect on the youngster’s performance as he produced a typically explosive display.
“Lleyton has taken time out. I’m really thankful for that,” Kyrgios said. “He’s really helped me a lot the last couple of weeks. He let me stay with him in the Bahamas for some preparation.
“He’s been a massive part of getting my head stable, and being able to have the performance tonight. I think that’s massive. That’s all Lleyton. “It’s easy to listen to him obviously. He’s been there. He’s won grand slams. He’s won here. But he’s been through it all.
— Nicholas Kyrgios (@NickKyrgios) September 2, 2015
“I think we’ve got a really good relationship now, which is going to be unbelievable for the Davis Cup. I have really good trust in him.”
Murray admits he could not help but laugh at Kyrgios’ outrageous on-court antics. Trick shots, racket slams and complaints to the umpire all played their part in the Kyrgios bonanza but Murray was cool amid the chaos, and extended his record against the talented Australian to four wins out of four.
“It’s important when you’re playing against him to just concentrate on your side of the court,” said Murray, who faces France’s Adrian Mannarino in round two today.
“If you start getting distracted by that, it’s easy for you to lose your concentration. I’d say the times when I played against him, I’ve done a pretty good job of just concentrating on my side.
“But in almost all the matches I’ve played, there have been a couple of points where I have laughed on the court or smiled because some of the stuff is funny.
“When he let go of the racquet today after the forehand, that only happens to him. But you need to try to concentrate on your side as much as you can.”
Mardy Fish faced down heart problems and crippling anxiety attacks but in the end it was a humble spot of cramping which brought his career to an end on Wednesday.
The 33-year-old American, who has played just a handful of tournaments in the last three years and seen his ranking slip to 581 as he battled his personal demons, had already said that this US Open, his 13th, would be his last event.
Despite serving for the match at 5-4 in the fourth set of his second round clash against Spain’s Feliciano Lopez, he was finally undone by the same cramping which has claimed many players at this year’s hot and humid US Open.
Lopez saved two break points in the seventh game in the decider when Fish started cramping. He was subsequently broken and Lopez comfortably served out for the victory, despite a fan’s desperate shout of ‘You’ve got this Mardy.’
“I wasn’t quitting. I was just cramping. I mean, both sides of both legs, if I moved anywhere close to three or four steps, two or three steps, it would go,” said Fish after the 3hr 11min Louis Armstrong Stadium encounter, which he lost 2-6, 6-3, 1-6, 7-5, 6-3.
“You would have had to carry me off the court. I was definitely not stopping at that point.”
Fish once reached No7 in the world, won six career titles and made the quarter-finals three times at the majors, including the 2008 US Open. But in 2012, his world imploded.
In May that year, he underwent a procedure to correct a heartbeat irregularity. Then, at the US Open, where he was the 23rd seed, he was set to face Roger Federer in the fourth round but stunned the tournament by withdrawing for “health reasons.”
It was then that Fish realised he was dealing with a problem which affects millions of people around the world. He suffered another anxiety attack sitting on the plane which was to carry him home to Los Angeles as it taxied on the runway. Fish had to disembark and pay $20,000 to hire a private jet to take him out of New York.
The Anxiety Disorders Association of America estimates that 3.3 million Americans over the age of 18 – around 1.5 per cent of the population – suffer from the disorder every year. The condition decimated Fish’s career.
This year’s US Open was his first since that 2012 pullout. He played just five events in 2013, none at all in 2014 and this year featured in only three tournaments, all in the United States. He hopes his legacy will be one of lifting the stigma – especially for men – which surrounds the problem of anxiety and show that it is a genuine medical condition.
— andyroddick (@andyroddick) September 2, 2015
“I was open and honest about a topic that is supposed not supposed to be masculine,” he said. “We are trained as tennis players from a very young age to not show weakness. I was very good at that throughout my career.
“I want to help people that have gone through it and try to be a role model for people that are deep into some bad times, that they can get out of it, because I was there. They can conquer it.”
Lopez, a fellow 33-year-old who first played Fish back in 2002, was generous in his praise of the American.
“He was the better player and deserved to win this match. I was very lucky,” said Lopez. “It’s very sad what has happened to him with his illness in recent years. We played many times and he was often the better player.”
One of the first to congratulate Fish on his career was compatriot and former US Open champion Andy Roddick. He tweeted: “@ MardyFish hell of an effort my friend… I couldn’t be prouder.”