Carlos Alcaraz began the defence of his US Open title with a brisk victory when his opponent was injured on Tuesday, as third seed Daniil Medvedev breezed into the second round with a quick-fire triumph.
After Germany’s Dominik Koepfer injured his left ankle badly in the first game, Alcaraz was always in command on the same Arthur Ashe Stadium court where he won his first Grand Slam as a youngster a year ago.
Koepfer tried to play on despite obvious discomfort, but retired with a 3-2 deficit in the second set after losing the first 6-2.
“That’s not the best way to advance to the next round,” world number one Alcaraz stated. “But I have to say that I was playing really well on my side.”
Alcaraz, who plays South African Lloyd Harris in the second round, is on track to meet 2021 US Open champion Medvedev in the semi-finals.
Medvedev made his debut on Tuesday, smashing Hungary’s Attila Balazs 6-1, 6-1, 6-0 in 74 minutes.
On Thursday, the Russian will face Australia’s Christopher O’Connell in the second round for a place in the last 32.
“That’s probably the fastest three-set match I’ve ever played,” Medvedev stated after his thrashing of Balazs.
While Alcaraz and Medvedev advanced to the second round, Karen Khachanov, a semi-finalist at last year’s US Open, was knocked out in the first round.
The 11th-seeded Russian was knocked out in straight sets by American world No.89 Michael Mmoh, who defeated him 6-2, 6-4, 6-2.
Alexander Zverev of Germany, a beaten finalist at Flushing Meadows in 2020, never seemed like he’d follow Khachanov out of the competition, winning 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 over Australia’s Aleksandar Vukic.
Jannik Sinner, the sixth seed from Italy, defeated Yannick Hanfmann of Germany 6-3, 6-1, 6-1.
In other men’s matches on Tuesday, British veteran Andy Murray defeated France’s Corentin Moutet 6-2, 7-5, 6-3 in a match that included the US Open’s new video review equipment for the first time.
After Moutet requested a review following a double-bounce call, chair umpire Louise Azemar Engzell attempted to implement the technology.
However, the umpire was forced to abandon the attempt as officials were unable to fully view film of the incident.
“I don’t know how the technology works,” Murray admitted. “However, it obviously did not go as planned in a crucial moment of the game.” So, yeah, it would be great if they could repair that.”
Meanwhile, Wu Yibing of China defeated Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic 3-6, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 to join compatriot Zhang Zhizhen in the second round.
Two Chinese men have reached the second round of the same Grand Slam tournament for the first time in the Open era.
Meanwhile, defending Australian Open winner Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus advanced with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Ukraine-born Belgian Maryna Zanevska.
The match ended in controversy when Zanevska refused to shake hands with Sabalenka in protest of Belarus’ military support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“I know I’m representing Belgium, but my entire family is in Ukraine,” Zanevska explained to AFP.
“I have family on the front lines.” And I believe shaking her hand would be equivalent to spitting in their faces.”
Ons Jabeur of Tunisia, anxious for her first Grand Slam victory after losing in three major championship finals in 2022 and 2023, overcame a medical scare to defeat Colombia’s Camila Osorio.
The 29-year-old fifth seed was out of sorts during her 7-5, 7-6 (7/4) victory, complaining of breathing troubles at one point in the first set before requesting an extended medical timeout.
Jabeur has only competed in one tournament since being defeated in the Wimbledon final by unseeded Czech Marketa Vondrousova last month.
Vondrousova, seeded ninth in New York, advanced to the second round with a 6-3, 6-0 victory over South Korean qualifier Han Na-Lae on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, third seed Jessica Pegula kept home hopes alive with a 6-2, 6-2 victory against Camila Giorgi of Italy.
But there was disappointment for American icon Venus Williams, who was competing in her 24th US Open.
Williams was defeated 6-1, 6-1 by Greet Minnen of Belgium, who was only a few weeks born when Williams reached her first US Open final in 1997.