Williams wins 7-5, 6-3!
Williams has triple match point after following an unforced error by Ahn with her 12th and 13th aces of the afternoon. She squanders the first of them with a double fault, but makes good on the next one with a 102mph serve that Ahn can’t return into the court. With her 102nd career victory at this tournament, she’s officially surpassed Chris Evert for most US Open wins ever.
Ahn showing fight in holding to stay in the match after Williams pushed it to 30-all and looked poised for the finish. Now Serena will serve for a spot in the second round.
Serena holds at love to back up the break, capping it with a 112mph ace out wide that Ahn doesn’t even bother to lifting her racket for. Ahn will serve to stay in the tournament after the change of ends.
Second set: Ahn 5-7, 2-4 Williams* (*denotes next server)
It’s all getting away from Ahn, who loses three quick points on her serve to fall behind love-40. She saves the first with an 82mph ace, but Williams pounces on a second serve on the following point and locks down the break with a clinical backhand winner. The end may be nigh.
Williams cruises to a straightforward hold to consolidate the break. A third consecutive game for the six-time US Open champion and she appears to have turned the tables on Ahn, who badly needs a hold to stem the tide following the changeover.
Second set: Ahn 5-7, 2-2 Williams* (*denotes next server)
Williams rattles off four straight points from 40-15 to break Ahn’s serve. A devastating turn for the American upstart and we’re back on level terms in the second.
Williams holds comfortably to get on the board in the second set. Meanwhile, today’s victories by Andy Murray and Dan Evans have made it a banner opening round for old Blighty: Along with Monday winners Cam Norrie and Kyle Edmund, there are four British men in the second round of the US Open for the first time since 1974.
Ahn immediately backs up the break with a brisk service game. A promising sign as the unforced errors begin to creep into Williams’s game with greater frequency. She’s up to 17 on the afternoon (against 18 winners).
Second set: *Ahn 5-7, 1-0 Williams (*denotes next server)
Williams looks bound to serve her way out of trouble with an ace and a forehand winner from love-30 down, but Ahn wins two quick points on Serena’s second serve to steal an early break once again. Serena is 22 of 26 (85%) on first-serve points won, but only 4 of 17 (24%) on second-serve points.
Williams wins first set, 7-5!
First set: Ahn 5-7 Williams
We’ve seen it countless times down the years but once again Williams manages to ratchet up her level when the pressure is highest. Ahn falls behind love-30, then 15-40, giving Williams a pair of break-point chances. But she needs only one, returning a meek 76mph second serve with such power to Ahn’s backhand side that she can’t do more than dump it into the net.
Williams serves her way out of a 15-30 hole, the fifth time in six service games she’s found herself behind. Ahn will serve to stay in the first set once more.
Ahn holds for 5-all. Says Chris Evert of Serena from the commentary booth: “She’s not as invincible to the players as she once was. The players are not as intimidated. … It would be 2-love for Serena right away when they walk out with her. They’ve seen her lose a few matches and become more human.”
As an aside: Wednesday’s order of play has just been released. The second-rounder between Novak Djokovic and Britain’s Kyle Edmund is second on Ashe with Naomi Osaka and Stefanos Tsitsipas slated for the night session.
Williams opens the eighth game with an unreturnable serve, but Ahn makes things uncomfortable with consecutive winners for 15-30. After trading unforced errors, Ahn has another break-point chance, but Williams erases it with a 104mph service winner down the pipe. She then follows with a 103mph ace out wide and another service winner to nail down the hold, improving to 84% on first-serve points (16 of 19 overall).
Ahn caps a comfortable hold with a forehand passing shot winner. Nicely done.
Williams holds at love, opening the game with another ace out wide and capping it with a crisp backhand volley winner. She’s won 12 of the last 15 points on her racket since that patchy opening service game.
Ahn betrays her nerves with a double fault after the changeover, but steadies herself nicely with three straight winners for 40-15. Williams comes to net on the next point and Ahn sends a forehand sailing for 40-30, before following with her third double fault of the afternoon for deuce. From there, however, Ahn cleans up nicely, winning two quick points to hold.
An ominous game for Serena: 110mph ace out wide, 100mph ace out wide, 122mph ace down the middle, 105mph ace down the middle. A stress-free hold and Ahn will try to keep in step after the change of ends.
First set: Ahn 2-2 Williams* (*denotes next server)
Ahn quickly falls behind 15-40, giving Williams a pair of break-point chances. She saves the first but sprays a forehand wide on the second, allowing Williams to get back on level terms.
Ahn strikes an impressive return winner as Williams falls behind on her serve again. But the former world No 1 decides no more gifts, rattling off four quick points capped by a forehand volley winner to seal the hold.
Ahn consolidates the break comfortably. Five unforced errors already for Williams in the first two games.
First set: *Ahn 1-0 Williams (*denotes next server)
Kristie Ahn, who served up one of the feelgood yarns of last year’s US Open with her fourth-round run, is off to a promising start against the 23-time major champion. Williams crushes a pair of aces to get it to 40-30, but follows with an unforced error at the net then back-to-back double faults.
The former world No 6 Carla Suárez Navarro announced on social media she has been diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma and will undergo six months of chemotherapy. The Spaniard, known as one of the most popular players on the tour, had been planning to finish her career this year before the virus.
“When we spoke a few days ago when she gave me the news, I was, I think, shocked, because I was expecting to see her in this tournament. You know, she’s such a nice woman, so sweet, so kind, so humble,” said Garbiñe Muguruza, a friend and frequent doubles partner of Suarez Navarro after her 6-4 6-4 win against Nao Hibino.
“I, for sure, will dedicate this win to her, because I want her to feel that we are behind her, that I am behind her, and I will go and see her at some point when it is fine.”
Evening Bryan. It shouldn’t really come as a surprise that Andy continues to take us on an emotional rollercoaster ride every time he plays, but still. When you look up the word ‘drama’ in the dictionary, it should say ‘see Andy Murray’.
Murray wins 4-6, 4-6, 7-6, 7-6, 6-4!
Fifth set: Murray 4-6, 4-6, 7-6, 7-6, 6-4 Nishioka
Murray pounds a pair of winners to push it to 30-all on Nishioka’s serve and he’s two points from victory. Nishioka gets it to deuce, but Murray follows with a forehand winner from the baseline to stake match point. And after a mishit overhead by Nishioka, it’s over! Andy Murray has managed to escape from two sets down after 4hr 39min, saving a match point along the way. Never a doubt.
These service games aren’t getting any easier for Murray, but he manages to hold from 15-30 down to move one game from the finish line.
Murray holds at love to back up his break as we inch toward the business end of this fifth and deciding set.
Fifth set: *Murray 4-6, 4-6, 7-6, 7-6, 3-3 Nishioka (*denotes next server)
Murray pushes it to 30-40 on Nishioka’s serve, then conjures an absolutely gorgeous lob winner to break right back. Back on level terms in the fifth.
Fifth set: Murray 4-6, 4-6, 7-6, 7-6, 2-3 Nishioka* (*denotes next server)
Murray goes down love-15, but levels with a forehand winner. Then he goes down 15-30, but levels with a booming serve that Nishioka can’t return. Then he goes down 30-40 … but this time he double-faults. Uh-oh.
Nishioka answers with business-like hold of his own, also sealing it with an ace down the middle.
Murray holds at love, capping it with a 112mph ace down the T. That’s 13 aces on the day for Murray compared to 12 double faults.
Nishioka holds comfortably in his opening service game of the decider. A note for the history buffs: three of Murray’s nine career wins from two sets down have come at the US Open. Interestingly enough (or not), two of those three came against left-handers like Nishioka.
- 2008 R3: def Melzer, 6-7, 4-6, 7-6, 6-1, 6-3
- 2011 R2: def Haase, 6-7, 2-6, 6-2, 6-0, 6-4
- 2015 R2: def Mannarino, 5-7, 4-6, 6-1, 6-3, 6-1
Another patchy service game from Murray to open the decider, but he manages to wriggle out of danger. He falls behind love-15, then 30-40, but responds with back-to-back forehand winners and a 113mph unreturnable serve down the middle.
Murray wins fourth set, 7-6 (4)!
Nishioka saves two set points, but is forced into an error early in the third. Fourth set to Murray and we’re headed to a decider – but not before he takes a medical timeout for what appears to be blisters on his right foot.
Murray wins the next point on his serve, then another on Nishioka’s for a 6-2 advantage. Four set points for Murray.
Serving at 4-1, Murray makes an unforced error on the backhand side at the end of a 12-stroke rally, but he’s still up a minibreak as the players change ends.
Nishioka overcooks a backhand on his serve to start, gifting Murray an early minibreak. But the world No 49 moves back level when Murray mishits a drop shot while serving at 1-all. Murray then wins two quick points, both on Nishioka’s serve, to take a commanding 4-1 with the next two points on his racket.
Murray wins the first two points and we appear bound for a tiebreaker, but the indefatigable Nishioka pushes it to 30-all, then to deuce. Then Murray misfires on a volley under duress and suddenly he’s match point down – but he saves it with a 127mph thunderbolt out wide that Nishioka can’t return into the court. Deuce. From there Murray is able to see out the hold and force a fourth-set breaker.
Nishioka cruises to another love hold. He’s won 22 of the last 24 points on his serve. Murray again to serve to stay in the match.
Another drama-free hold for Murray, who’s won 12 of the last 13 points on his serve.
Another straightforward hold for Nishioka, who is on the precipice once more. Murray will serve to stay in the tournament after the changeover.
Murray appears to have righted the ship with his serve, at least for now. He goes unreturnable, ace, ace, unreturnable to hold at love and has gotten eight straight first offerings in going back to his previous service game.
Nishioka slots his sixth and seventh aces of the day en route to another elementary hold of serve. Still on level terms here in the fourth.
A handful of loose points sees Murray fall behind love-30, then 15-40 after yet another double fault. But he quickly saves both break points, then holds with a pair of winners from the baseline. Danger averted.
Nishioka reels off a second straight love hold, and third overall, with three crisp winners followed by a 112mph ace right down Broadway.
And Murray responds with his cleanest service game of the day: forehand volley winner, service winner, 106mph ace out wide, backhand winner at the net.
Nishioka breezes through a love hold in about a minute’s time.
Holds of serve haven’t come easy for Murray today and this one is no different after his 10th double fault of the day pushes it to deuce. His 11th double gives Nishioka a break point, which Murray saves. Then his 12th double fives Nishioka another break point, which Murray again saves. From there Murray escapes with the hold after no small labor exerted.
A promising start for Nishioka, who is pushed to deuce but wins two quick ones from there, holding to open the fourth.
Murray wins third set, 7-6 (5)!
Both players continue to hold their serve until Nishioka, serving at 4-5, can only watch as Murray ends a 14-shot rally with a blistering forehand winner. Moments later, Murray nails down the set after an unforced error by Nishioka, punctuating it with a lengthy “Come onnnn!” Could the comeback be on?
Murray opens with a service winner before Nishioka misfires on a forehand to go a minibreak down. Nishioka pounds a backhand winner for 1-2, then Murray gives the minibreak back with an unforced error off the forehand side. After trading winners, they’re level at 3-all as they change ends.
Nishioka falls behind 15-30, allowing Murray within two points of the set. But he wins the nets three points in quick order to force the breaker.
Murray threads a pretty drop-shot winner, but follows it with three sloppy points to go double break point down. This could be it. Murray erases them both with back-to-back winners, but nets a backhand from the baseline on the next point to give Nishioka a third chance at a break. Murray saves that, too, then goes on to hold with a backhand volley winner at the net, but not after being made to labor for it. Nishioka will now serve to force a tiebreaker.
Nishioka misfires off the forehand side in the opening exchange, but holds his nerve again in winning four quick points to nail down the hold.
Squeaky bum time for the 2012 US Open champion as he opens with his third double fault of the set followed by an unforced error off the backhand side to fall love-30 down. He responds with a 125mph ace down the middle and a forehand volley winner, only to follow with his 41st unforced error of the day to gift Nishioka a crucial break-point chance. Murray survives when Nishioka mishits a backhand, then rattles off two quick points to escape with the hold. Nishioka will serve to stay in the third set after the change of ends.
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