The US Open welcomed fans back for the first time since 2019 as day one of the crown jewel of American tennis started in warm and sunny weather at Flushing Meadows on Monday.
Australian John Millman was an early first-round casualty, bundled out by Swiss qualifier Henri Laaksonen 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (7-2), 6-1.
John Millman was no match for Swiss qualifier Henri Laaksonen in the first round of the US Open.Credit:AP
In the women’s draw, Spanish ninth seed Garbine Muguruza held off a second-set fightback from Croatia’s Donna Vekic to secure a 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-5) win in just over two hours.
Former world number one Simona Halep, of Romania, also won through to the second round, winning a tough opener against Italian Camila Giorgi to claim an impressive 6-4, 7-6 (7-3) win and set up a second-round meeting with Slovakia’s Kristina Kucova.
Halep missed the French Open and Wimbledon – the two majors she has won – with a left calf injury.
The year’s final grand slam has been stripped of some of the sport’s marquee names, with Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal and Serena Williams injured.
The tournament was also beset by a wave of late withdrawals, including Australian Open runner-up Jennifer Brady, of the US, and 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, of Latvia, who both pulled out of the women’s draw for medical reasons before play started on Monday.
On the men’s side, 2008 Australian Open finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, from France, withdrew with a leg injury.
Even so, the tournament still promises to be a major draw after playing to empty stands a year ago.
Novak Djokovic is attempting to complete a calendar-year slam. The Serb needs to triumph in New York to become only the third man – and the first since Rod Laver in 1969 – to accomplish the feat.
It will be the first US Open to allow spectators since the COVID pandemic began. Fans are required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination before entering the stadium.
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