World No.1 and defending champion Rafael Nadal eased into the second round of the US Open with a 6-3, 3-4 win after David Ferrer retired midway through the match, while Serena Williams got off to an impressive start.
Rafael Nadal had secured the first set with ease, but David Ferrer, who’s been not just a longtime teammate of Nadal in the Davis Cup but also his very good friend, put up a good showing in the second set as he broke Nadal twice to lead 4-3. However, a calf injury forced him to retire in what will be his final Grand Slam appearance.
Ferrer said he had required medical attention before the match and was in obvious discomfort throughout before calling it quits.
In a post match interview, the 36-year-old Spaniard said: “It was special because I finish my last Grand Slam playing in the center court with Rafael Nadal, because he’s a very good friend. Well, sad because I can’t finish the match. Is not a problem. I am a lucky man.”
Nadal paid tribute to Ferrer, whom he beat in the 2013 French Open final. “I’m very sorry for him. He’s one of my closest friends on the tour and we faced many amazing moments together,” Nadal said.
“He is one of the greatest players to have come from our country. He’s a great person and great player.
“It’s sad for him to finish like this.”
Nadal will now face Canada’s Vasek Pospisil for a place in the third round.
Third seed and 2009 champion, Juan Martin del Potro didn’t break a sweat in his 6-0, 6-3, 6-4 dismissal of American qualifier Donald Young, while South African fifth seed and last year’s finalist, Kevin Anderson, rallied to outlast Ryan Harrison 7-6, 5-7, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in a four hour and 14 minute thrilling encounter.
Austrian ninth seed and this year’s French Open finalist Dominic Thiem defeated Mirza Basic 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 to make progress, while former world No.1, Andy Murray did well to get past James Duckworth in four sets, winning 6-7, 6-3, 7-5, 6-3.
In the women’s field, six-time champion, Serena Williams breezed past Magda Linette 6-4, 6-0 in just 70 minutes.
Linette had squared off well against Williams in the first half of the opening set, putting the score at 3-3. Williams, however, found an edge and there was no looking back from there onwards.
Defending champion, Sloane Stephens kick started her title defense campaign with a 6-1, 7-5 win over Evgeniya Rosina, while Venus Williams accounted for Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3, 5-7, 6-3.