Rafael Nadal believes he is treated the same as any other player in terms of shot-clock violations – even if John McEnroe suggests otherwise.

Nadal became engaged in a slightly awkward exchange with a reporter following his first-round win at the US Open on Tuesday.

After beating Rinky Hijikata 4-6 6-2 6-3 6-3, it was put to the Spaniard that there are "different rules for Rafael Nadal than there are for everybody else".

The reporter referred to comments from McEnroe, who has asked why Nadal was not punished for taking more than 25 seconds to serve.

Nadal was amused by both the question and McEnroe's comments, replying: "Yeah, I think it's a joke.

"I went through a lot of warnings under my tennis career – never for breaking a racquet, never for doing a mess on court, but yes, for the time clock.

"I have a problem that I am sweating a lot. When you are playing during these very humid conditions, we have a biggest problem today, that is we don't have the ballboys bringing the towel to you for the last couple of years. You have to go to the farthest place of the court to take the towel.

"The problem for players like me that are sweating that much, you know when you go to pick up the towel, you're going to be in trouble with the time. So I am not going very often.

"I don't think I have a different treatment from the umpires at all.

"I never said that [there should be different rules for Nadal]. I am following the rules. If I am having more than 25 seconds, I receive a warning every single time.

"If not, check the clock. I don't know if you want to create [something].

"I don't think I'm receiving a different treatment at all. I don't understand why John can say that on the TV. But I'm going to have a chat with him later."

Naomi Osaka suffered another early major exit at the US Open on Tuesday and reflected on a difficult season.

Osaka is a four-time grand slam champion, winning twice at Flushing Meadows in 2018 and 2020.

However, the former world number one has not been able to contend in 2022, winning only two matches at majors – both at the Australian Open.

In fact, Osaka has not been beyond the third round at a slam since her most recent title in Melbourne at the start of 2021.

Tuesday's 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 defeat to Danielle Collins was just the 22nd Tour-level match Osaka has played this year.

"This year hasn't really been a great year," she said, adding: "I feel like everyone deals with injuries. I would say, for me, it's been more prominent this year.

"But I think it's something that I can learn [from]. I learned a lot more about my body, I learned what's weak, what I can do to prevent it.

"I would say the sport is definitely very physical, but it's my job to stay on top of it."

Given her fitness troubles, Osaka was just relieved to be able to play a competitive match against Collins, even if it was a fourth defeat in a row – her worst run since 2018.

"Honestly, the main goal was just to have fun," she said. "I don't know. I think that was kind of accomplished.

"Of course, it's more fun to win more rounds. We're just kind of winging it."

Emma Raducanu tried to focus on the positives after seeing her US Open defence ended at the first hurdle, suggesting "the target will be off my back" as she prepares to tumble down the WTA rankings.

The teenager sensationally won at Flushing Meadows in 2021 without dropping a set, yet that remains her sole Tour-level title a year on.

And any hopes of a remarkable repeat were swiftly dashed by first-round opponent Alize Cornet, who brushed the 11th seed aside 6-3 6-3 on Tuesday.

But Raducanu is relishing the opportunity to build her career again without her status as a reigning major champion.

"[It is] obviously really disappointing, [I am] really sad to leave here," Raducanu said afterwards. "It's probably my favourite tournament.

"But also, in a way, [I am] happy, because it's a clean slate. I'm going to drop down the rankings, climb my way back up.

"Yeah, in a way, the target will be off my back slightly. Yeah, I just have another chance to claw my way back up there.

"I've been doing some really good work in the last six weeks especially. [I am] just looking forward to putting more of those weeks together consistently, then we'll see what happens."

Indeed, Raducanu claimed her 2022 season might have been considered a success had she not set such a high standard in New York last year.

She has played two quarter-finals this year, losing to Iga Swiatek in Stuttgart and Liudmila Samsonova in Washington D.C.

"It is a clean slate. I can just start again," Raducanu said. "I don't know what my ranking will be – probably pretty low down.

"With perspective, actually as a 19-year-old, I've had not a bad year. To be top 100, if you told me that a year ago, I'd take it.

"But I think it would be nice in a way to just start over, start fresh. Off the court, I don't think it will make much of a difference, to be honest."

She added: "I actually think, for me, the most exciting thing is trying to do well at each of the different tournaments.

"Regardless of what it is – it sounds weird – [as] US Open defending champion, obviously it would have been great to defend the title, but I want new experiences.

"In a way, I've kind of done that [winning the US Open], so I want another tournament.

"It doesn't really matter what it is. I think any player would be happy to win a tournament. I think it makes a massive difference, no matter what the level is."

Naomi Osaka's difficult run of form continued in the opening round of the US Open on Tuesday, going down against Danielle Collins 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 in the final match of the night.

Osaka was the unseeded party as she went up against the world number 19, but she appeared to have things clicking early as she collected an early break of serve to rattle off the first three games of the match.

But as would be a theme in the back-and-forth contest, Collins fought right back, taking the next three games to even things up.

Collins' serve was not sharp throughout the clash – committing all nine of the match's double faults – but she found a couple of crucial first serves in the tiebreaker to come away with the first set.

Just like the first set, it was Osaka nabbing the early break in the second, but that advantage was again wiped out instantly as Collins fought back to level, before breaking again to go up 5-3 with a chance to serve it out.

Osaka had two break points in the final game, but could not extend the contest as Collins saved five out of six break opportunities in the second set, while taking two of her three chances.

Data Slam: Osaka's yearly grand slam streak comes to an end

This will be the first year since 2017 that Osaka has not won a grand slam, after her two Australian Open victories in 2019 and 2021 and two US Open crowns in 2018 and 2020.

She has now lost four matches in a row for the first time since 2018, and six of her past seven.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Osaka – 25/19

Collins – 23/24

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Osaka – 8/0

Collins – 1/9

BREAK POINTS WON

Osaka – 2/8

Collins – 3/5

Rafael Nadal survived an early scare against world number 198 Rinky Hijikata, steadying after dropping the first set to run away with a 4-6 6-2 6-3 6-3 victory.

The first set saw the 21-year-old Australian play out of his skin in the biggest match of his life, hitting 11 winners in the frame, before only being able to muster a combined 15 winners in the next three sets.

Nadal also left the door open, with one of his two double faults in the match leading to Hijikata's only break point opportunity from the first three sets, and he took full advantage before serving it out.

From that point on, it would be all Nadal as he found his footing, winning the points from 14 out of his 15 accurate first serves in the second set, before his second serve lifted in the third frame, taking 11 of those 13 opportunities.

A competitive fourth set meant Nadal had to save three break points, but only after he had already secured a break of his own and was cruising towards the finish line. 

He needed five match points to finish off the determined Aussie, but he got the job done after three hours and 12 minutes of action, booking his place against Italy's Fabio Fognini in the second round.

Data Slam: Nadal's uncharacteristic start

The last time Rafael Nadal lost the opening set of a grand slam match against an opponent ranked outside of the top-100, it was five years ago at the 2017 US Open against Taro Daniel. It was a similar story on that day, as the Spaniard then rattled off the next three sets 6-3 6-2 6-2 without issue.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Nadal – 43/22

Hijikata – 27/33

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Nadal – 9/2

Hijikata – 7/4

BREAK POINTS WON

Nadal – 5/10

Hijikata – 1/4

Reigning US Open champion Emma Raducanu has been eliminated in the first round after going down in straight sets 6-3 6-3 against Alize Cornet on Tuesday.

Raducanu struggled with both her serve and her ground strokes early on against her French opponent.

She won just 40 per cent (10-of-25) of her service points in the opening set, while committing 18 unforced errors with seven winners as she had her serve broken three times.

After footage emerged of Raducanu distressed during a recent training session due to blisters and hand issues, it was no surprise to see her call for a medical timeout between the sets, needing some running repairs and fresh band-aids.

The women traded breaks of serve continuously throughout the match, with four breaks from the first five games of the second set, but every time Raducanu gained any momentum, Cornet would answer immediately.

For the match, Raducanu only held serve twice from nine attempts. Cornet will meet Katerina Siniakova in the second round.

 

Data Slam: Raducanu hits cold stretch at the worst time

It was not a great preparation for her maiden grand slam title defence, with Raducanu now collecting four straight-sets losses from her past six matches.

The 19-year-old has had a disappointing season, and has not won three matches in a row since last year's US Open.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Raducanu – 15/30

Cornet – 22/22

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Raducanu – 2/2 

Cornet – 1/9

BREAK POINTS WON

Raducanu – 4/6

Cornet – 7/10

Venus Williams says she is "focused" on her US Open women's doubles pairing with sister Serena following her first round exit to Alison Van Uytvanck on Tuesday, adding that she couldn't turn down "the boss" one more time.

The seven-time grand slam singles champion saw her solo stint at Flushing Meadows come to an early end following a 6-1 7-6 (7-5) straight sets loss to the Belgian at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Following younger sister Serena's announcement earlier this year that she intended to step back from top-level tennis following the conclusion of the final tennis major of the year, many had wondered if Venus would follow suit.

But speaking after her defeat, Williams eschewed questions on her future, simply stating: "Right now, I'm just focused on the doubles."

The return of the Williams sister pairing – the only duo to have won the Career Golden Slam in women's doubles – has added a further degree of excitement to Serena's farewell tour.

When asked how their on-court reunion came about, Venus stated it was her sibling who got the ball rolling, adding: "It was Serena's idea.

"She's the boss, so I do whatever she tells me to do! I don't think we have played since 2016, but I might be getting that wrong. We have had some great wins. It would be nice to add some more."

Former world number one Williams made her 91st grand slam main draw singles appearance with her match against Van Uytvanck, a record for both the men's and women's game.

It is a testament to her longevity that 58 players in the main draw had not been born when she made her grand slam debut at the 1996 French Open – including this year's Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina, who also suffered a first round loss to the unseeded Clara Burel.

Serena Williams is "looking better every day" and only she could handle the US Open hoopla that surrounds her, according to world number one Iga Swiatek.

In a febrile atmosphere, Williams made a winning start to her final Flushing Meadows campaign on Monday night, getting the better of Montenegrin Danka Kovinic.

A 6-3 6-3 first-round win over the world number 80 prompted Williams to break out in a jig of delight, and now world number two Anett Kontaveit awaits the great American in round two.

Williams will returns to Arthur Ashe Stadium on Wednesday evening, when she is certain of another big reception and overwhelming support.

Kovinic's best winners barely received a smattering of applause, while her mistakes were often cheered by some in the crowd.

The crowd's partisanship could again come into play when 23-time grand slam singles champion Williams, who is planning on retiring after this tournament, tackles a tough task against Kontaveit.

Swiatek watched the opening games on Monday and remarked that she had "got tight just by watching", feeling all the strain Williams was under.

"So I realised that I need to stop," said a smiling Swiatek. "I can't imagine what she must feel, having this kind of atmosphere around her and just finishing.

"I know she's doing a tournament, but I feel like yesterday it was like people did so much work to show appreciation to what she's done. It's pretty amazing. I have never seen something like it.

"For sure it was like the most popular first round of a slam ever. I'm pretty happy that she can experience something like that. I also feel that not every player would handle that kind of fuss around your first match of the tournament.

"She's handling it pretty well, as usual. So that's just confirmation of how great she is."

Williams came onto the court in a glittery tennis dress and cape, along with jewel-encrusted tennis shoes, with Swiatek describing the outfit as "pretty cool".

With two grand slam titles to her name, the 21-year-old Swiatek is among the favourites to be champion in New York.

When she watched the fanfare and ceremony for Williams, along with the first couple of games, it brought it home to Swiatek just why many regard the 40-year-old as the GOAT – greatest of all time.

"It was kind of too much for me even watching that. I realise how she must feel, but she is kind of used to it more than us," Swiatek said.

"We never had such attention around us, because she's just a GOAT. She has it probably for most of her career, so I guess she's used to it. But for me, just watching that, I was pretty shocked."

Swiatek refused to predict how the Kontaveit match would go. The Estonian is ranked second largely because of her strong run of form at the back end of last season, with recent results not so impressive or consistent.

"I feel like against Serena – I have never experienced that, so I just assume – it's all about your mindset and mentality," said French Open champion Swiatek, who beat Italian Jasmine Paolini 6-3 6-0 on Tuesday.

"I know Anett can play great tennis. It's not a mistake that she's second in the world right now. But on the other hand, I feel like Serena is looking better and better every day."

World number one Iga Swiatek cruised through her first test at the US Open by swatting away Jasmine Paolini 6-3 6-0 at Flushing Meadows.

The Polish star is chasing a third grand slam title, and her second of the year after triumphing at the French Open in June.

Having held top spot in the rankings since April in the wake of Ash Barty's retirement, the 21-year-old is chasing her best result yet in New York, having reached the fourth round last year.

Against the unseeded Paolini, she made an impressive start to her quest at Louis Armstrong Stadium, with a near-flawless performance that saw her break her opponent seven times.

Swiatek showcased her ruthless streak barely a handful of minutes into the first set, rifling home three unanswered points on her first serve before promptly breaking the Italian for the first time.

Another break followed, before Paolini hit back to make matters 4-2, the only time she looked to seriously threaten the Pole's dominance.

Swiatek responded with her third break in a row, before bouncing back from another lost service game to seal the first set.

With momentum on her side, the Roland Garros victor bulldozed her opponent across the second set – and though Paolini was able to save match point once, there was never any doubt who was heading through to round two.

Data Slam: Swiatek's youthful spirit powers on

Having failed to live up to expectations to an extent when her 37-match winning streak came to an end at Wimbledon against Alize Cornet, and struggled for consistency on tour since, Swiatek responded in impressive fashion.

With 45 grand slam match wins under her belt now, she is the youngest woman to reach that number since Caroline Wozniacki did so at the 2011 Australian Open.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Swiatek– 14/18
Paolini – 5/18

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Swiatek– 1/0
Paolini – 1/3

BREAK POINTS WON
Swiatek– 7/9
Paolini - 2/3

Nick Kyrgios hopes he never has to face Thanasi Kokkinakis again after eliminating his close friend and doubles partner in the opening round of the US Open.

The Wimbledon runner-up began his latest quest for a maiden singles grand slam crown with a routine 6-4 6-4 7-6 (7-4) victory at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Monday.

It marked the first time the pair, who won the doubles event on home soil at the Australian Open in January, have met in a tour-level match.

Kyrgios will also partner Kokkinakis in the US Open doubles, and the 27-year-old did not enjoy facing his compatriot in singles competition.

"When we both saw the draw, it was a nightmare, honestly," Kyrgios said. "We never want to play each other. 

"I've just got so much respect for him. I can't wait to get out there and play doubles with him on the right side of the net.

"We just know each other's games like the back of our hand. We've played together since we were about nine years old. 

"He knows my game well. I know his game extremely well. I just played the bigger points well early on. We're going to play each other, hopefully, never again."

Kyrgios will now take on Benjamin Bonzi, who beat fellow Frenchman Ugo Humbert in five sets to advance at Flushing Meadows.

Despite suggesting this year's US Open will be her final tournament before retirement, Serena Williams said "you never know" after her first round victory against Danka Kovinic.

The 23-time grand slam winner was made to work for the win, but strong support from the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium helped Williams over the line in a 6-3 6-3 success on Monday.

In a recent interview with Vogue Magazine, Williams indicated she was ready to move on to the next stage of her life, signalling an intent to bring her decorated career to an end after the event at Flushing Meadows.

Asked about her intentions during the post-match press conference, Williams said while smiling: "Yeah, I've been pretty vague about [retirement], right? I'm going to stay vague because you never know."

Williams credited the atmosphere, admitting it meant a lot to her to have such a strong following against her Montenegrin opponent.

"I think when I walked out, the reception was really overwhelming. It was loud and I could feel it in my chest. It was a really good feeling. It's a feeling I'll never forget, so... yeah, that meant a lot to me," she said.

"I was just thinking, like, 'Is this for real? Really?' At the same time, I'm also thinking 'I still have a match to play and I want to be able to play up to this reception almost.'

"It was so loud. I just was overwhelmed, in a good way. But at the same time it's like you have to be focused, you have to be laser-focused. That's what I needed to do and that's what I tried to do."

The 40-year-old plays number two seed Anett Kontaveit in the second round on Wednesday, and she did go on to seemingly confirm she intends to hang up her racquet once her tournament is over.

"The more tournaments I play, I feel like the more I can belong out there," she added. "That's a tough feeling to have, and to leave knowing the more you do it, the more you can shine.

"But it's time for me, you know, to evolve to the next thing. I think it's important because there's so many other things that I want to do."

Ukrainian qualifier Daria Snigur dedicated her shock victory over Simona Halep in the opening round of the US Open to the people in her war-torn country.

The world number 124 marked her debut in the main draw of a major with a 6-2 0-6 6-4 win at Flushing Meadows on Monday.

Snigur is the lowest-ranked player to win a grand slam match against Halep – one of the favourites for the title – since Maria Sharapova at the same tournament in 2017.

She is also the first female qualifier to win a US Open match against a top-10 seed since Johanna Konta eliminated Garbine Muguruza seven years ago.

 

Making Snigur's achievement all the more incredible is that the 20-year-old's training base in Kyiv was bombed by Russia, forcing her to instead prepare for the event in Riga.

Reflecting on the biggest win of her burgeoning career, a tearful Snigur said: "This is a victory for Ukraine, for all Ukrainian people, for my family, for my team.

"The situation is bad, of course. I try to do the best for Ukraine, I try to support my country.

"It's not so easy because the war is continuing. Sometimes it's impossible to play but I try to do my best because I want to live in Ukraine.

"I have to say thanks to Simona for this incredible match. I want to thank all the fans who watched our match today."

Two-time major champion Halep has lost just three of her past 19 first-round matches in grand slams, though each of those have come at the US Open.

Snigur will now face Rebecca Marino, who defeated Magdalena Frech in straight sets to advance to the second round.

Serena Williams joined elite company in the final tournament of her playing career becoming the fourth player in the Open Era to win a Grand Slam match in her teens, 20s, 30s and 40s.

Williams joined 18-time Grand Slam champion Martina Navratilova, former world number four and three-time major semi-finalist Kimiko Date Krumm and six-time major winner and sister Venus Williams in achieving the feat.

The American's 6-3 6-3 win over Danka Kovinic in the US Open first round on Monday comes ahead of her 41st birthday next month, with Williams aged 40 years and 337 days.

The 40-year-old has been lauded for her decorated playing career, highlighted by 23 Grand Slam titles, but none of that is possible without endurability.

Williams's career spans 27 years, having turned professional in 1995 and having first played in a major in 1998 at the Australian Open. She played in that year's US Open too and has won every first-round match at Flushing Meadows in her career (21).

The ceremony and pomp after Monday's win was bigger than ever, with words from Oprah Winfrey and Billie Jean King along with an extended interview conducted by Gayle King with Williams, followed by a crowd display of signs reading "We love Serena".

It all offered a level of finality, despite Williams still being live in the tournament, albeit with a tougher test against second seed Anett Kontaveit to come on Wednesday.

Despite all that Williams, who has steered clear of the word retirement instead using "evolution", teased reporters when she replied to a question about the US Open definitively being her final tournament with a smile: "Yeah, I've been pretty vague about it, right? I'm going to stay vague because you never know."

Stefanos Tsitsipas had a shot at rising to the number one ranking at the 2022 US Open but instead he is out in the first round following a four-set loss to Daniel Galan on Monday.

The world number 94 stunned recent Western and Southern Open finalist Tsitsipas in the first two sets by winning the first 11 games of the match, before the Greek rallied but Galan would triumph 6-0 6-1 3-6 7-5 in two hours and 48 minutes.

World number five Tsitsipas, who has never gone beyond the third round at Flushing Meadows, did need treatment for a forearm tightness but admitted he was simply "dominated" by Galan who eventually prevailed on his ninth match point.

The 24-year-old had some form after reaching the final in Cincinnati earlier this month, losing to Borna Coric, and felt it was a missed opportunity, in the absence of Novak Djokovic, to press his case for the top rank across the next fortnight.

"I was very motivated and pumped before the US Open started because I knew I could use this tournament to get closer to the number one spot," Tsitsipas said.

"It would be very weird and very unusual if it didn’t cross my mind, because this is something I wanted since I was a kid and I know this is my chance now to step it up.

"It just didn’t go as planned. Sometimes you just need to let it go, you don’t need to overthink it, you don’t need to push yourself too hard but at the same time it’s difficult because there’s this open opportunity right in front of you, you don’t want to mess it up, you don’t want to waste it."

"My chances are a bit smaller. The margin is not as thin as it used to be now after the US Open but I’m still going to try and add points to my ranking, as much as I can until the end of the year, I really want to perhaps finish in the top three… more opportunities ahead."

Tsitsipas, who only won seven points in the opening set, hit 57 unforced errors for the match compared to Galan's 36.

The Greek only managed 28 winners, with Galan hitting 41, while the Colombian also had the better of the all the key serve categories, winning 74 per cent on his first serve.

"He dominated the match," Tsitsipas said. "I just couldn't get into it."

Serena Williams says the "crazy" crowd support she received in Monday's US Open first-round clash with Danka Kovinic helped will her over the line for a hard-fought victory.

The 40-year-old, who will end her decorated playing career after this year's US Open, triumphed in one hour and 39 minutes with a 6-3 6-3 win amid raucous scenes at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

It was a star-studded turnout at the stadium to watch what could have been Williams' last singles' match, but the six-time US Open winner proved too good, extending her farewell campaign.

Despite staying live in the tournament, Williams was honoured with a lengthy post-match ceremony including addresses from Oprah Winfrey and Billie Jean King and an extended interview with Gayle King, followed by a pre-organised crowd display where letters on cards showed the words "We Love Serena".

The 23-time Grand Slam champion appeared nervy early, including two double faults in the first game, and letting a 2-0 lead slip to trail by a break at 2-3 in the first set.

Williams won the next four games to clinch the opening frame and was decisive in the second set.

"The crowd was crazy," Williams said. "It really helped pull me through… I was really calm. Yes, I got this."

The triumph marked the first step on Williams' farewell tour at the US Open, although she has a sterner test next in the second round against second seed Anett Kontaveit on Wednesday which will likely attract another wild crowd.

"Just keep coming out and supporting me as long as I'm here, and know that I love you so much and I'm so excited to be here," Williams said.

Williams was asked about her decision to move on from playing tennis, which she described as her "evolution" rather than retirement in an essay in Vogue.

"It's been a very hard decision," she said.

"I think when you're passionate about something and you love something so much, it's always hard to walk away.

"Sometimes I think it's harder to walk away than to not. That's been the case for me. I've been trying to decide for a little while what to do.

"I think now's the time. I just have a family. There's other chapters in life. I call it evolution."

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