In an American staging, Serena Williams qualified Monday night for what could become the final tournament of her phenomenal career at the US Open, defeating Montenegrin Danka Kovinic (80th in the world) 6-3, 6-3. In Dressed in black sequins, styled with a lioness mane, the Californian entered Arthur Ashe Stadium with the word “Queen” flashing across the screens. Carried by the 24,000 people in the stadium, including Mike Tyson, Martina Navratilova, Lindsey Vonn and even Spike Lee, the tennis queen relied on the crowd – sometimes very unsportsmanlike towards Kovinic – and her service to qualify.
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“The audience was crazy and really helped me,” said Serena Williams, six-time champion at the US Open, who announced the end of her career at the age of 40. Williams broke the opener and led 2-0 in the first set. But Montenegrin won the next three games and led 3-2. However, after two double faults celebrated by the crowd, she allowed Williams back into the game. The American played three games to lead 5-3 and win the first set.
In the next round, the 40-year-old American with 23 Grand Slam titles, who is now ranked 605 in the WTA, will face number 2 in the world, Anett Kontaveit. Will this be his last singles match? “I was pretty vague there, wasn’t I? I’ll stay because you never know,” she said at a press conference.
The nightmare of Tsitsipas
The surprise of the night came from the men’s draw, where Colombian qualifier Daniel Galan defeated world No. 5 Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas in the first round (6-0, 6-1, 3-6, 7-5 ). Tsitsipas lost the first eleven games of the match, perhaps embarrassed on the right arm. Diminished or not, the Greek never made it to the US Open, where he never made it past the third round as he reached the final at Roland Garros, the semifinals in Australia and the round of 16 at Wimbledon.
“I’m super happy!” said Galan, who was playing his first-ever game in the American Major’s main draw. In the next round he meets the Australian Jordan Thompson (102nd).
Another surprise was the loss of No. 7 seeded Romanian Simona Halep, who stayed on one win at the WTA 1000 in Toronto but was knocked out in three sets by Ukraine’s Daria Snigur (world ranked 124) right after entering the race. It’s quite an unexpected underperformance from the former world No. 1 (2017), crowned at Roland-Garros (2018) and Wimbledon (2019), who seemed to see her return to Ohio front and middle a year after she left top 10 due to a series of shoulder and hamstring injuries.
Wawrinka gives up
Stan Wawrinka, who returned this spring after a long absence, continues his stint. The Vaud native, now 295th in the ATP rankings, gave up in his first round against Corentin Moutet (ATP 112). The winner of that US Open in 2016, Stan Wawrinka, threw in the towel when he was led 6-4, 7-6 (9-7) by the lucky Parisian loser. A discomfort in his left thigh prompted him to trim a portion that eluded him. That’s his tenth loss in thirteen games in 2022, sixth straight. When his level of play is correct, his inability to score vital points becomes crippling. At 37, will the three-time Grand Slam winner still have the patience to wait long for that famous click he’s been chasing for months?
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“The end is coming, that’s for sure, but as long as I love what I’m doing, I want to keep going, even if I won’t be playing at my level before that,” said Stan Wawrinka after his retirement. You need results because you can’t stay on the track and lose all the time. I feel like I’m playing better, I feel better. I’m not winning yet but I believe it will come back soon. I’m sure of that and that’s why I’m going to fight a little more.”
Teichmann falls back into his tracks
Jil Teichmann believed that she found the click at Roland-Garros, where she signed a course this spring that is finally worthy of her talent (fourth round). Unfortunately, the Seelandaise, 30th in the world, still has so many difficulties in the Grand Slam. In her fifth participation, she lost to the Chinese Zhang Shuai (36th WTA) 4: 6, 2: 6. Eleven of his 12 appearances in a major ended in first-round (eight times) or second-round (three times) losses.
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Alexander Ritschard was looking forward to being there. Coming from the qualification, the Zurich player, world 186th, offered good resistance to the Canadian Félix Auger-Aliassime. The number 8 won in four sets, 6-3 6-4 3-6 6-3. As with his big Grand Slam debut in Wimbledon against Stefanos Tsitsipas, Ritschard won a set against a significantly higher placed opponent. Unfortunately, the 28-year-old from Zurich lacked the efficiency to cause an upset, converting only two out of twelve break points.
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