2017-08-29 21:09:03
U.S. Open Tennis: Kerber Loses; Rain Postpones Dozens of Matches

21:09, August 29 233 0

Stay here for live results and analysis from Day 2 of the U.S. Open.

■ Complete scores and schedule.

Angelique Kerber’s title defense was short-lived.

Naomi Osaka of Japan pummeled the sixth-seeded Kerber with a barrage of powerful forehands, dominating the defending champion, 6-3, 6-1, in a match that lasted only 1 hour and 5 minutes at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

It was one of the few matches completed on Tuesday, when rain suspended play on the outside courts around 12:45 p.m. About three hours later, with persistent rain in the forecast, the tournament postponed all but one of the matches on outside courts. That left only matches played under the roof at Ashe Stadium on the schedule.

Kerber claimed her second Grand Slam title and the No. 1 ranking at the United States Open last year, beating Karolina Pliskova in the final.

Kerber’s ascent stalled this year, though. She has won no titles, and is 0-9 against Top-20 opponents. She also lost in the first round of the French Open, 6-2, 6-2, to Ekaterina Makarova.

Osaka, 19, and ranked No. 45, is surging. She looked on the verge of her first Top-10 win three weeks ago in Toronto, but was forced to retire with an abdominal injury after taking the second set over the top-ranked Pliskova.

Against Kerber, Osaka dominated with her powerful forehand, particularly in the second set, in which she walloped 10 of her 14 winners off that wing.

Osaka also exorcised some demons with the victory. Last year at Ashe Stadium, she squandered a 5-1 lead in the third set against eighth-seeded Madison Keys, a loss that seemed to leave some emotional scar tissue.

“It means a lot, especially because of the last time I was here,” Osaka said in her on-court interview. “This court hasn’t been a fond memory.”

■ Madison Keys, the No. 15 seed, opened the night session with a 6-3, 7-6 (6) victory over Elise Mertens. Mertens trains at Kim Clijsters’ academy in Belgium, and Keys is coached by Clijsters’s former rival Lindsay Davenport.

■ The match between No. 12 seed Jelena Ostapenko and Lara Arruabarrena began on Court 17 at 11 a.m., but it ended in Arthur Ashe Stadium about six and a half hours later. The match was suspended with Ostapenko leading, 3-1, in the third set. The tournament moved it to Ashe Stadium after the day session’s schedule there was completed. When play resumed, Ostapenko, the French Open champion, needed only 14 points and about 10 minutes to close out Arruabarrena, 6-2, 1-6, 6-1.

■ Top-seeded Rafael Nadal won his first match of the tournament, defeating Dusan Lajovic of Serbia, 7-6 (6), 6-2, 6-2.

■ The Ashe Stadium roof was closed for the first time this year during Tuesday’s opening match between top-seeded Karolina Pliskova and Magda Linette, which Pliskova won, 6-2, 6-1. The roof remained closed for the rest of the day session.

■ Three matches were completed on outside courts before play was suspended. No. 23 seed Barbora Strycova topped Misaki Doi, 6-1, 6-3; Sorana Cirstea beat Lesley Kerkhove, 6-1, 6-3, and No. 28 seed Lesia Tsurenko lost to Yanina Wickmayer, 6-3, 6-1.

Before the first ball was served at this year’s United States Open, tournament officials were busy trying to address the extra noise that caused disruption in Ashe Stadium last year after its new $150 million roof had been installed.

They neutralized sounds coming from two air conditioning units and a cellphone tower, believed to be the source of much of the commotion, but one significant noisemaker remained: the crowd.

With the roof closed because of rain Tuesday, top-seeded Rafael Nadal certainly noticed the cacophony caused by the chatter and drone of the fans under the structure. Nadal ultimately had little trouble defeating Dusan Lajovic in their first-round match, but afterward he said he had difficulty dealing with the noise in the cavernous stadium.

“I understand it’s a show at the end of the day, and I enjoy that,” Nadal said. “I feel part of this, of course. But under the roof we need to be a little bit more strict about the noise, in my opinion.”

Nadal said he had trouble hearing the ball coming off his opponent’s racket, making it hard to anticipate how hard it was hot or what kind of spin it bore. He said he also yelled across the net for Lajovic to wait before serving, but the Serb did not hear him.

“So, you can imagine how much noise you feel out there,” Nadal said. “So difficult to analyze how the ball is coming when you are not hearing very well the sound of the opponent’s ball.” —DAVID WALDSTEIN

When Brienne Minor walked across the blue-and-green court on a tour of Arthur Ashe Stadium, she gasped.

“Breathtaking,” she said.

But it was not overwhelming. Minor, who will play her first United States Open match on Wednesday, is having too much fun to be rattled by the big stage.

“It’s not really about the tennis for me,” said Minor, who became the first African-American to win the N.C.A.A. Division I singles title last spring.

Minor, a junior at Michigan, will face another trailblazer, Ons Jabeur of Tunisia, who at the French Open this year became the first Arab woman to reach the third round of a Grand Slam singles event.

“Obviously I want to play my best, but I don’t know when I’ll be back so I definitely want to take this all in,” Minor said. — KELLY WHITESIDE

Read more about Minor and her tennis-loving family here.

Just taking the court at the U.S. Open is monumental for Allie Kiick, 22. She entered the Open qualifying tournament ranked No. 633. She was treated for melanoma on her back last year, and she has had a debilitating case of mononucleosis and four operations on her knees since 2014.

But she won three matches in four days last week, gaining a berth in the Open main draw. She will face 25th-seeded Daria Gavrilova of Australia on Wednesday.


Read more about Kiick here.