US Open - Day 1: Serena show shines on, Halep and Tsitsipas dismissed

Another instalment of the Serena show was the highlight of a thrilling opening day at US Open 2022.

Serena Williams / 1er tour US Open 2022©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT
 - Alex Sharp

The first day of US Open 2022 was spectacular from start to finish.

Serena Williams’ possible farewell (including an elaborate on-court tribute) was the top billing, but Monday was packed with shocks and comebacks.

Here’s what you might have missed.

Serena “evolution” put on pause

A US Open night session record attendance of 29,402 crammed into the Arthur Ashe Stadium. “We love you, Serena” spelt cards in the crowd, the whole arena paying tribute to one of the all-time greats.

Serena, having recently announced she’s “evolving away from tennis” post New York, extended her singles career in exactly 100 minutes.

A 6-3, 6-3 passage past world No.80 Danka Kovinic, the best performance from Serena in 2022, enabled the 23-time Grand Slam champion to keep an unblemished first-round record of 21-0 at her home major.

“I was just thinking, ‘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.’ It was so loud,” reflected Serena, touched by the raucous reception in the stands.

“I just was overwhelmed in a good way. At the same time, you have to be laser-focused. That's what I needed to do, and that's what I tried to do.”

Williams, competing in the doubles alongside sister Venus, ensured another singles instalment by booking No.2 seed Anett Kontaveit in the second round.

“At this point, honestly, everything is a bonus for me, I feel,” said six-time US Open winner Williams. “I think every opponent is very difficult. I've seen that over the summer. The next one is even more difficult.”

Daniil title defence off the mark

World No.1 Daniil Medvedev returned to New York with a spring in his step. The reigning champion clicked into gear with a comfortable 6-2, 6-4, 6-0 scoreboard over American debutant Stefan Kozlov.

Pressure is not a problem for the top seed, harnessing memories of his previous adventures at Flushing Meadows.

“I know what I have to do. I know that I want to play well and if I don't do it, I will not care that I won it last year, I will just be disappointed that this year didn't work out my way,” mused Medvedev, with world No.58 Arthur Rinderknech awaiting next.

“And for sure it gives me a lot of confidence, because I always played good here. I remember last year were some crazy matches. Always loved playing in US Open, so I want to continue love playing this year.”

Seeds soar and rumbled

Plenty of major names ticked the first round off. The likes of 2012 champion Andy Murray, teenage sensation Coco Gauff, Nick Kyrgios, Ons Jabeur and 2021 finalist Leylah Fernandez all moved on in straight sets.

French hope Caroline Garcia, fresh from lifting the Cincinatti silverware, transferred her fine form to New York with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Kamilla Rakhimova.

Caro the contender?

“Of course the last couple of weeks and months have been successful for me on court, and I'm confident. I know my game is here,” stated the 17th seed, having won 27 of her past 31 matches. 

“We will see where it can brings me. Obviously to win a slam, it's one of my goals since I started on the tour, and always working every day on it to see if I can reach it. But it's a tough goal, but it's a motivating one.”

However, 7th seed Simona Halep was taken out 6-2, 0-6, 6-4 by 20-year-old Daria Snigur. The tearful Ukrainian dedicated the standout win to her homeland, having prepared for her Grand Slam debut in Riga after her training base in Kyiv was bombed.

“I try to do the best for Ukraine, I try to support my country,” said the world No.124. "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. This is a victory for Ukraine, for all Ukrainian people, for my family, for my team.”

Great Britain’s Harriet Dart also sprung a surprise, toppling in-form 10th seed Daria Kasatkina 7-6(8), 1-6, 6-3.

Stefanos Tsitsipas, who had a slim chance of finishing the fortnight as world No.1, couldn’t withstand the firepower of Colombian qualifier Daniel Elahi Galan. 41 winners flew past Tsitsipas as the 4th seed fell 6-0, 6-1, 3-6, 7-5 inside Louis Armstrong Stadium.

Brandon Holt, the son of two-time US Open champion Tracy Austin, continued his qualifying heroics to cap his tour-level debut with a four sets triumph over 10th seed Taylor Fritz.

What’s on the Tuesday menu?

Day 2 more than matches Monday.

Arthur Ashe Stadium will welcome the human highlight reel Carlos Alcaraz. The No.3 seed opens his account against fellow NextGen prodigy Sebastian Baez.

The evergreen Venus Williams follows versus Alison van Uytvanck, before a certain Rafael Nadal returns to Flushing Meadows for the first time since 2019 (when he won the title) up against Rinky Hijikata.

The night session is concluded with a blockbuster between two-time champion Naomi Osaka and fiery home charge Danielle Collins.

Elsewhere, world No.1 Iga Swiatek opens on Louis Armstrong Stadium with Jasmine Paolini. Meanwhile, defending champion Emma Raducanu will duel with France’s Alize Cornet, who is making her 63rd consecutive Grand Slam appearance, a new Open Era record.