TENNIS

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

NO­VAK Djokovic and Rafael Nadal got their US Open cam­paigns un­der way yes­ter­day in the shadow of Arthur Ashe Sta­dium’s spec­tac­u­lar US$150 mil­lion re­tractable roof and along­side rock mu­sic leg­end Phil Collins.

But both de­fend­ing cham­pion Djokovic and fel­low two-time win­ner Nadal come into the sea­son’s fi­nal Grand Slam with in­jury con­cerns.

World num­ber one Djokovic, the 2011 and 2015 cham­pion, ad­mits he is “not 100 per­cent” af­ter suf­fer­ing a wrist in­jury on the eve of the Olympic Games where he was a shock firstround loser.

The 29-year-old has also said “per­sonal prob­lems” con­trib­uted to his third-round exit at Wim­ble­don which ended his hopes of go­ing on to cap­ture the first cal­en­dar Grand Slam since 1969.

Nadal, mean­while, is also bat­tling the ef­fects of a left wrist prob­lem which forced a mid-tour­na­ment with­drawal from the French Open and side­lined him un­til the Olympics where he was a gold medal win­ner in the men’s dou­bles.

The in­jury con­cerns, com­bined with the ab­sence for the first time since 1999 of five-time win­ner Roger Fed­erer, have put 2012 cham­pion Andy Mur­ray in the po­si­tion of favourite.

Djokovic starts his bid for a third ma­jor of 2016, and 13th of his ca­reer, against Pol­ish gi­ant Jerzy Janow­icz, who was a Wim­ble­don semi-fi­nal­ist in 2013.

A se­ri­ous knee in­jury has lim­ited Janow­icz to just six matches all year and seen his world rank­ing col­lapse to 228.

Nadal, the 2010 and 2013 US Open cham­pion, faces De­nis Is­tomin of Uzbekistan.

The Spa­niard has a 4-0 ca­reer record over world num­ber 107 Is­tomin, in­clud­ing a win over the Russian-born player at the 2010 US Open.

Nadal closes the day­time ses­sion on Ashe while Djokovic starts the evening en­ter­tain­ment.

Play on the cav­ernous Ashe sta­dium started with 2015 women’s run­ner-up Roberta Vinci, the Ital­ian sev­enth seed, fac­ing Ger­many’s An­naLena Fried­sam.

Vinci stunned Ser­ena Wil­liams in the semi-fi­nals in 2015 be­fore los­ing the cham­pi­onship match to Ital­ian com­pa­triot Flavia Pen­netta who re­tired in the im­me­di­ate af­ter­math of her first and only Grand Slam win.

World num­ber two An­gelique Ker­ber, the Aus­tralian Open cham­pion who can de­throne six-time US Open win­ner Wil­liams as world num­ber one in New York, opens against Polona Hercog of Slove­nia.

Ac­tion on Louis Arm­strong Sta­dium starts with 2014 cham­pion Marin Cilic against Roge­rio Du­tra Silva of Brazil.

That’s fol­lowed by former ma­jor win­ners Francesca Schi­avone and Svet­lana Kuznetsova.

They played the long­est-ever women’s match at the Aus­tralian Open in 2011, a four-hour 44-minute epic won by Schi­avone af­ter sav­ing six match points.

French Open cham­pion Gar­bine Mugu­ruza, the Span­ish third seed, faces Bel­gian qual­i­fier Elise Mertens.

The brand new Grand­stand arena kicks off with Tay­lor Townsend of the United States fac­ing two-time run­ner-up Caro­line Woz­ni­acki of Den­mark.

Ser­ena Wil­liams and 2012 cham­pion Andy Mur­ray will have their first matches to­day. –

Photo: AFP

Rafael Nadal of Spain prac­tises on Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day on Au­gust 27 prior to the start of the 2016 US Open in New York City. Nadal, who has won the open twice, is bat­tling a wrist in­jury.

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