Sportsmanship was on display in its purest form on Monday night as Denis Shapovalov consoled his fellow Canadian teenager Felix Auger-Aliassime on court, after the latter was forced to retire from their US Open first round with a heart issue.
After splitting the first two sets, Shapovalov went up 4-1 before Auger-Aliassime had to stop. The 18-year-old qualifier was in tears as his good friend hugged him and walked over to his bench with him.
Shapovalov admits it was “tough” seeing his friend end the match like that, but he’s certain Auger-Aliassime has a bright future ahead of him.
“I told him at the net we’re going to be back here and we’re going to have so many of these,” revealed the 19-year-old Shapovalov.
“That you’ll be back and we’ll be playing finals here. All good brother.”
It was a very moving moment between the two up-and-comers and a great sign of what’s to come from this younger generation of players.
— doublefault28 (@doublefault28) August 27, 2018
PROPS TO WARRIOR FERRU
The emotional night continued as David Ferrer played the final Grand Slam match of his career, but also had to retire during the match, against Rafael Nadal, with a calf problem.
“It was special because I finish my last Grand Slam playing in the center court with Rafael Nadal, because he’s a very good friend. Well, sad because I can’t finish the match. Is not a problem. I am a lucky man,” said Ferrer.
Tributes for the Spaniard came pouring in, with Roger Federer tweeting: “Ultimate respect for road warrior @DavidFerrer87.”
Feliciano Lopez retweeted Federer’s post and added: “Every single word I subscribe. Amen.”
Ultimate sign of respect is pointing at a guy and saying “that’s how I’d want my children to go about their job someday.” That’s @DavidFerrer87 for me. Absolutely brought it every single day. Congrats amigo!!
— andyroddick (@andyroddick) August 28, 2018
.@DavidFerrer87 , you’re an absolute legend who gave it all every single second of every single day. Congrats on an AMAZING career
— John Isner (@JohnIsner) August 28, 2018
@DavidFerrer87 I still remember the first time I met https://t.co/2T51ONAUIW were warming up on a treadmill and I just finished my match at the Australian open and I started doing my cool down run next to you. Your run took longer then my match .
— Kim Clijsters (@Clijsterskim) August 28, 2018
— Tennis Channel (@TennisChannel) August 28, 2018
— Lucas Pouille (@la_pouille) August 28, 2018
SINCE HE’S BEEN GONE
The night session on Arthur Ashe stadium kicked off with a brilliant performance from pop star Kelly Clarkson, whose song “Stronger”, with the lyrics “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”, felt like an apt prelude to Serena Williams’ first round match that followed Clarkson’s medley of hits.
While Clarkson was performing, Kevin Anderson was in a gruelling five-setter against Ryan Harrison. When the 2017 runner-up got through it, his wife Kelsey revealed his immediate first thought.
“@KAndersonATP grinds out a grueling 5 setter to reach round 2 of the US Open… His thoughts after the match? “I can’t believe I missed @kelly_clarkson!”
We can’t believe it either, Kevin!
Former world No. 2 Agnieszka Radwanska rued a “terrible day” at the US Open after she suffered an opening-round defeat to Germany’s Tatjana Maria in scorching weather conditions on Monday.
The Pole, who has slipped to No. 48 in the world and will drop out of the top-50 after the US Open, is having a forgettable 2018, in which she is currently 13-13 win-loss.
Radwanska has won just one match in her last four tournaments and struggled with the heat during her 6-3, 6-3 loss to Maria (she had her vitals checked by a doctor during a medical timeout).
“I felt terrible. I think I never felt that bad this year. Definitely just bad, dizzy, heavy legs, what can I say? It was a terrible match,” said the 29-year-old Radwanska.
“I think both [heat and lack of match play played a factor]. One didn’t help the other thing, both things combined together. I didn’t do anything to win that match. I was more struggling myself than the opponent, when you have a feeling like this, you can’t really win the match.”
Monday was arguably the hottest day of the past week at the US Open and Radwanska admits practicing in similar conditions wasn’t necessarily a luxury she had in the build-up to the tournament.
“To be honest I was practicing whenever I had a court. And I didn’t really have a court for myself, I wasn’t seeded, so I didn’t have much choice. I was also going indoor because there were free courts there. But I think I these kind of days, it doesn’t matter what you did the other days because every day is a new day and sometimes you feel good and sometimes you just feel terrible and it’s not your day and you can’t help it,” she said.
With her ranking expected to dip further, Radwanska has a tricky road ahead of her if she plans on climbing her way back up.
“If it’s 30 or 50 the ranking, it doesn’t really matter at the moment. It’s just about the tournaments and having matches and being able to feel better on court, I think that’s the start, then you can think about the rest. I definitely need to do something just to feel 100 per cent on court and I think when I have that, it’s going to be better,” she says.
“I didn’t really play bad in Cincinnati or New Haven, playing Pliskova and Kvitova, obviously I lost both of them but it was a totally different story. There is something here in the air that I don’t feel good. Especially today, that was the worst, I cannot really remember this kind of match, where everything falls apart. Something that doesn’t suit me here at this tournament but this year it was totally a disaster.”
World No. 1 Simona Halep crashed out of the US Open first round for the second consecutive year, losing to 44th-ranked Estonian Kaia Kanepi 6-2, 6-4 on the new Louis Armstrong stadium on Monday.
Halep entered the tournament as the favourite having won Montreal, and reached the final of Cincinnati, in the build-up.
Kanepi is a former world No. 15 and a two-time US Open quarter-finalist (2010, 2017).
Here are the numbers surrounding her stunning upset.
1 — Halep is the first US Open women’s top seed in the Open Era to lose in the first round, and the sixth Grand Slam women’s No. 1 seed to exit at that stage.
1 — Kanepi is the first and only Estonian to defeat a reigning world No. 1. She did it for the first time against Caroline Wozniacki in Tokyo 2011.
7/9 — Kanepi was successful in seven of the nine net points she played. Her aggressiveness that allowed her to go up front paid off 78 per cent of the time.
9 — Halep committed just nine unforced errors in her defeat to Kanepi, who was clearly forcing the error from her top-seeded opponent.
12 — times Halep has lost in a Grand Slam first round, from 34 main draw appearances.
26 — winners off the Kanepi racquet against Halep, against 28 unforced errors.
39 — months since Kanepi had last defeated a top-20 player (since Madrid 2015).
46 — Halep entered the US Open as the match-wins leader on tour this season (46-8) and hard-court match-wins leader (28-4).
51% — Kanepi won 51 per cent of her receiving points, 41 per cent on Halep’s first serve, and an impressive 70 per cent on the Romanian’s second serve.
56% — Kanepi did well keeping the rallies short against Halep. A total of 56 per cent of the points (60/107) were rallies of 0-4 shots. The Estonian won 58 per cent of such points. The average rally length was 4.46 shots.