US Open 2020: Johanna Konta and Dan Evans advance to second round


Johanna Konta reached the US Open quarter-finals in 2019
Venue: Flushing Meadows, New York Dates: 31 Aug-13 Sept
Coverage: Selected live radio and text commentaries on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, BBC Sounds, the BBC Sport website and app.

British number ones Johanna Konta and Dan Evans claimed straight-sets victories in their opening matches at the US Open.

Ninth seed Konta, 29, overcame a tough first set to beat compatriot Heather Watson 7-6 (9-7) 6-1.

Evans, 30, the 23rd seed, made light work of Brazil’s Thiago Seyboth Wild as he won 6-2 6-1 7-6 (7-5).

The pair join fellow Britons Cameron Norrie, Kyle Edmund and Andy Murray in the second round.

Konta, a quarter-finalist in 2019 at Flushing Meadows, now plays Romania’s world number 77 Sorana Cirstea.

Evans will play either France’s world number 77 Corentin Moutet or Czech world number 67 Jiri Vesely in the second round.

Konta overcomes early challenge from Watson

Hopes are high for Konta coming into the US Open after a semi-finals appearance at last week’s Western & Southern Open.

Victory against Watson is the first step as she looks to improve on her effort last year, especially given six of the world’s top 10 women are absent this time.

But from the outset Watson, 28, showed some of the form that won her a WTA title in Acapulco before coronavirus put a stop to competitive tennis earlier this year.

There was little to separate the two Britons in the opening games, as both held serve in a high-quality contest.

Konta began to edge ahead and eventually got the break to go 5-4 up, but world number 54 Watson broke back immediately.

After saving two set points at 6-5 down, Konta relied on her serve to save four more in the tie-break.

She eventually wrapped up the set after an hour and 13 minutes as Watson’s forehand drifted wide of the line.

Two breaks of serve in quick succession – one thanks to a sublime forehand lob – brought Konta to match point at 5-0 but she slapped a backhand winner into the net.

She served out with ease though, holding to love to earn her place in the second round, and admitting there was “another level of anxiety” playing a fellow Briton.

“I think it is always inevitably going to be a bit more stressful whenever you play a compatriot,” she said.

“So I was anticipating that and I just kind of wanted to put that to one side and enjoy playing a really good player and competing well.”

Dan Evans prepares to hit a backhand
Dan Evans became British number one for the first time in October 2019

Evans enjoys straightforward win

Evans, who reached the US Open third round in 2019, did not look troubled by Seyboth Wild as the Brazilian committed four unforced errors to go a break down in his first service game.

The Briton faced just two break points in the match – both came in the first set and Seyboth Wild was unable to convert either.

Evans played the kind of efficient, fast tennis that helped him rise to British number one for the first time in October 2019 and he dropped just three games on his way to taking a two-set lead.

He was forced to raise his level in the final set as his opponent showed glimpses of the play that earned him the junior title at Flushing Meadows in 2018.

But a comeback from two sets down was too much to ask in the 20-year-old’s first Grand Slam main-draw match and Seyboth Wild eventually crumbled in the tie-break.

He sent a forehand into the net to give Evans victory, meaning there will be four British men in the US Open second round for the first time since 1974.



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US Open: Murray ready for ‘weird’ experience, Konta excited for Watson match


Andy Murray won the first of his three Grand Slam titles at Flushing Meadows in 2012
Venue: Flushing Meadows, New York Dates: 31 August – 13 September
Coverage: Selected radio and text commentaries on BBC Radio 5 Live and the BBC Sport website, plus daily reports and analysis

Andy Murray is expecting a “weird” experience when he competes at this week’s behind-closed-doors US Open.

The first Grand Slam since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic is under way inside a safety bubble in New York.

“Mentally it’s going to be difficult for the players,” said Murray, who opens against Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka on Tuesday (17:00 BST).

British number one Johanna Konta faces compatriot Heather Watson about 18:00, with Dan Evans on court straight after.

Evans, the leading British male and the 23rd seed, takes on Brazilian youngster Thiago Seyboth Wild, who is playing in his first Grand Slam main-draw match.

American third seed Serena Williams starts her bid for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title against compatriot Kristie Ahn on Arthur Ashe Stadium after Murray’s match, while Russian third seed Daniil Medvedev – last year’s beaten men’s finalist – opens against Argentine Federico Delbonis.

Andy Murray (GB) v Yoshihito Nishioka (Jpn)
Kristie Ahn (US) v Serena Williams (US) [3]
Not before 00:00 BST:
Karolina Muchova (Cze) [20] v Venus Williams (US)
Federico Delbonis (Arg) v Daniil Medvedev (Rus) [3]

Murray not fazed by a ‘different’ Ashe

Former world number one Murray, 33, is playing his first singles match at a major since the 2019 Australian Open, where he feared he might have to retire because of a hip injury.

The Scot, who had a hip resurfacing operation in January 2019, reached the last 16 at the Western and Southern Open last week and he is confident his body can withstand the pressures of a major.

“The day off [in between matches] helps for sure,” the 2012 US Open champion said.

“I think it will adjust to what it is required to do. It might just take a bit of time because it has not done it for a while.”

On the lack of fans at Flushing Meadows, he added: “The level of tennis is what’s important. I play my first match on Arthur Ashe where I have experienced some of the best atmospheres I’ve ever had in tennis.

“To go out there in such a huge stadium and have literally no-one in the stands is going to be weird. I know that’s going to be the case, so at least I can prepare for it mentally.

“It’s different, but I’m just looking forward to getting to compete in a Slam again.”

Friendship goes to one side for Konta and Watson

Johanna Konta and Heather Watson playing for Great Britain in the Fed Cup
Konta has won her two matches against Fed Cup team-mate Watson on the WTA Tour

Konta and Watson are team-mates for the British Fed Cup team, but will find themselves on opposite sides of the court for the third time in a top-level match when they meet at Flushing Meadows.

World number 13 Konta is considered the favourite based on ranking and pedigree, coming into the US Open on the back of a run to the Western and Southern Open semi-finals last week.

Watson, ranked 54th, lost in the first round at the same tournament but won a WTA title in Acapulco earlier this year and was unbeaten in the singles at last month’s Battle of the Brits exhibition event.

Konta, 29, says Watson is one of the British players she is closest to, but did not feel any extra emotion about being drawn against the 28-year-old.

“Regardless of who I am drawn against, it will be a tough match,” said Konta, who reached the US Open quarter-finals last year.

“Obviously, I knew there would be added interest from home and it makes it more exciting for people at home, which is nice and gets people more into our sport.

“I’m looking forward to it, it will be a tough match for me and she is a very good player who has won a title this year.”



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Naomi Osaka into Western and Southern Open final; Johanna Konta loses to Azarenka


Osaka wore a Black Lives Matter t-shirt as she walked onto court

Naomi Osaka reached the Western and Southern Open final with a straight-set victory over Elise Mertens.

Japan’s fourth seed defeated Belgium’s Mertens 6-2 7-6 (7-5) and will play Victoria Azarenka in the final.

Belarusian Azarenka fought back from a set down to beat Britain’s Johanna Konta 4-6 6-4 6-1 in their semi-final.

Osaka’s semi-final was due to take place on Thursday but tournament organisers suspended play for a day in protest against racial inequality.

It came after Osaka had pulled out of the match, saying thatexternal-link “as a black woman I feel as though there are much more important matters at hand”.

The 2018 US Open champion then decided to play despite being ready to concede after a “lengthy” consultation with the WTA and USTA.

“For me it’s been a little bit stressful, I couldn’t really sleep last night so I’m really glad I was able to play at a pretty good level,” Osaka said.

“I’m really glad I didn’t mentally collapse. I was down a break in the second and I got really tight in the tie-break so really glad I didn’t just dip.”

The Western and Southern Open was one of a number of sporting events in the US to be suspended in protest at the shooting of Jacob Blake.

Blake, a black man, was shot seven times in the back by police on Sunday in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Konta falters after fast start

British number one Konta had started well at Flushing Meadows against two-time Grand Slam champion Azarenka, breaking serve early on before narrowly missing out on doing it again to close out the set, eventually winning it on her eighth set point.

She quickly found herself a break down in the second set though, with three of the opening four games going against serve.

Azarenka eventually levelled the match with another break to take it into a decider.

From there the former world number one controlled proceedings, twice breaking Konta’s serve.

The Western and Southern Open is usually held in Cincinnati but was moved to New York to create a two-tournament safety bubble that also incorporates the US Open, which starts on Monday and is the first Grand Slam since the sport was put on hold by the coronavirus pandemic.





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US Open draw: Andy Murray to face Nishioka, Johanna Konta plays Heather Watson


Andy Murray won the first of his three Grand Slam titles at Flushing Meadows in 2012
Dates: 31 August – 13 September Venue: Flushing Meadows, New York
Coverage: Selected radio and text commentaries on BBC Radio 5 live and the BBC Sport website, plus daily reports and analysis

Former champion Andy Murray will play Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka in the first round of the behind-closed-doors US Open at Flushing Meadows in New York.

The Briton, 33, is playing singles at a major for the first time since the 2019 Australian Open after injury problems.

British number one Johanna Konta plays her compatriot Heather Watson, while Kyle Edmund could face men’s top seed Novak Djokovic in round two.

The Grand Slam starts on Monday – but without a host of star names.

Those missing include defending champions Rafael Nadal and Bianca Andreescu, who are not playing because of the coronavirus pandemic.

There are no qualifying rounds or mixed doubles, with the men’s and women’s doubles reduced to 32 teams and the wheelchair events taking place after initially being omitted by the USTA.

Who are the Britons facing?

Six British players are playing in the singles at Flushing Meadows, with 2012 champion Murray the star attraction as he continues his comeback after two major hip surgeries.

The Scotsman is now ranked 134th in the world but reached the last 16 at the Western and Southern Open this week, which was his first top-level tournament since November because of niggling injuries and the suspension of the ATP Tour.

Konta, ranked 15th, is perhaps the nation’s best hope of success and has looked in fantastic form having reached the semi-finals of the same tournament.

The ninth seed must first overcome 52nd-ranked Watson, who has lost all three of their previous meetings on the WTA Tour.

Dan Evans, 30, is seeded 23rd after reaching a career-high ranking of 28 this year and he plays 20-year-old Brazilian Thiago Seyboth Wild, who features in the main draw of a Grand Slam for the first time.

Former Australian Open semi-finalist Edmund, ranked 44th, faces Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik and is likely to face Serbia’s Djokovic in the next round – assuming the 17-time Grand Slam champion beats 107th-ranked Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

British men’s number three Cameron Norrie faces a tough task against Argentine ninth seed Diego Schwartzman.

What about the other big names?

The women’s field, in particular, has been weakened by the withdrawals, with only four of the world’s top 10 set to play.

American great Serena Williams, bidding for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam, faces compatriot Kristie Ahn in her opener, while 16-year-old Coco Gauff takes on Latvian 30th seed Anastasija Sevastova.

Gauff could potentially play 2018 champion Naomi Osaka, who starts against fellow Japanese player Misaki Doi, in the third round for the third consecutive Grand Slam.

Osaka had to console Gauff after overwhelming her in a comfortable US Open defeat last year, before the American teenager stunned the defending champion at the Australian Open in January.

On the men’s side, another notable absentee is Swiss great Roger Federer, who is recovering from knee surgery.

The absence of Nadal and Federer means Austria’s Dominic Thiem is seeded second and he starts against Spain’s Jaume Munar.

German fifth seed Alexander Zverev takes on 2018 Wimbledon runner-up Kevin Anderson in another notable opening-round match.

Analysis

BBC tennis correspondent Russell Fuller

So a first-round meeting between Johanna Konta and Heather Watson is assured; and there could be another British clash later in the first week.

But Andy Murray and Dan Evans have plenty of work to do before they meet in the third round, in what is likely to be a spectacularly unpredictable Grand Slam.

Murray’s first-round opponent Nishioka is at a career-high world ranking of 48, and he might also have to play 20-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime, who is already a five-time runner-up on the ATP Tour.

There could also be a third-round meeting between Naomi Osaka and Coco Gauff. If they were to meet, it would be for the third Grand Slam in a row.



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