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US Open produces first upset

Japan's Kei Nishikori ousted in the first round as Radwanska and Li Na advance and James Blake announces retirement.

Last Modified: 26 Aug 2013 19:07
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Radwanska needed only 63 minutes to improve to 28-2 in Grand Slam openers [AFP]

The US Open, wrapping up an unpredictable year of Grand Slam tennis, quickly produced a big upset Monday.

A British man not named Andy Murray - 179th-ranked qualifier Daniel Evans - stunned 11th-seeded Kei Nishikori in straight sets. Evans won 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 in his US Open debut.

Both are 23, but Nishikori was playing in his 17th Grand Slam event, with a 25-16 record coming in. Evans was 0-2, both matches at Wimbledon.

With his elimination, five-time US Open champion Roger Federer loses the highest-ranked rival in his eighth of the draw and a major obstacle in his path to the quarter-finals, where he could meet Rafael Nadal for the first time.

No surprises

The women's draw opened with no surprises.

Third-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska and fifth-seeded Li Na advanced in straight sets. Radwanska beat Silvia Soler-Espinosa 6-1, 6-2, while Li defeated Olga Govortsova 6-2, 6-2.

Radwanska withdrew from her last tournament at Cincinnati on August 15 before her quarter-final against Li to fly home for her grandfather's funeral.

"Sometimes there are some things more important than tennis,'' Radwanska said.

"It was something like that, and it was really a pretty quick choice. Of course, this is the situation that we have to be home for the family, and I think I owed my granddad to be there.''

Venus Williams earned one of her biggest wins since she pulled out of the US Open two years ago because of illness, upsetting 12th-seeded Kirsten Flipkens.

The seven-time Grand Slam champion won 6-1, 6-2 to improve to 15-0 in first-round matches at Flushing Meadows. But with her ranking down to No. 60, she had to open against the Wimbledon semi-finalist.

In 2011, Williams withdrew before her second-round match because of Sjogren's syndrome, an autoimmune disease. She was playing just her third event since a first-round loss at the French Open.

Flipkens had been enjoying a career year. The Belgian had never reached the round of 16 at a major tournament before the Australian Open, then made her run at Wimbledon.

American teen Lauren Davis lost by a "double bagel,'' falling to 18th-seeded Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain 6-0, 6-0 in 57 minutes.

Blake retires

Former top-five player James Blake announced he will retire from tennis after the US Open.

"No real surprise here. This is my last tournament,'' the 33-year-old Blake said at a news conference during the opening day of action at Flushing Meadows.

"I always wanted to end my career at the US Open,'' the American added.

Blake, who attended Harvard before turning pro in 1999, reached a career-high ranking of No. 4 in 2006. He is currently 100th and has a 9-13 record this season heading into his first-round match in the U.S. Open against Ivo Karlovic.

Blake reached three Grand Slam quarterfinals, including two in New York, losing at that stage to Andre Agassi in 2005 and to Roger Federer in 2006. He mentioned that five-set defeat against Agassi as a match that stands out as a highlight and lowlight of his time on tour.

Blake's announcement comes a year after his friend and former US Davis Cup teammate, Andy Roddick, retired after the US Open.

"Despite the tears, I'm actually really happy about this,'' said Blake, noting that he looks forward to spending more time with his wife and their 1-year-old daughter.

Asked about what he would like to do in the future, Blake mentioned two possibilities: serving as captain of the US Davis Cup team, and working as a television commentator.

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Source:
AP
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