x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Nishikori out but Venus, Radwanska and Li Na through at US Open

Briton named Evans wins on his US Open debut and Blake says he will retire after season's last grand slam tournament.

Daniel Evans beat Japan's Kei Nishikori 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 in their opening-round match at the US Open - the Briton's debut at Flushing Meadows. Peter Foley / EPA
Daniel Evans beat Japan's Kei Nishikori 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 in their opening-round match at the US Open - the Briton's debut at Flushing Meadows. Peter Foley / EPA

NEW YORK // The US Open, wrapping up an unpredictable year of grand slam tennis, quickly produced a big upset on Monday night.

A British man not named Andy Murray – 179th-ranked qualifier Daniel Evans – stunned 11th-seeded Kei Nishikori in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 in his Open debut.

Both are 23, but Nishikori was playing in his 17th grand slam event, with a 25-16 record coming in. Evans was 0-2, with both matches at Wimbledon.

The women's draw opened with no surprises. Third-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska and fifth-seeded Li Na advanced in straight sets. Radwanska beat Silvia Soler-Espinosa 6-1, 6-2, while Li defeated Olga Govortsova 6-2, 6-2.

Radwanska withdrew from her last tournament at Cincinnati on August 15 before her quarter-final against Li to fly home for her grandfather's funeral.

"Sometimes there are some things more important than tennis," Radwanska said. "It was something like that, and it was really a pretty quick choice. Of course, this is the situation that we have to be home for the family, and I think I owed my granddad to be there."

She next faces another Spaniard, Maria Teresa Torro-Flor.

"I think a two-sets match for the first match is always good," Radwanska said. "I prepared very good. I'm ready now to play here and hopefully I can play same good tennis."

American teen Lauren Davis lost by a "double bagel," falling to 18th-seeded Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain 6-0, 6-0 in 57 minutes.

The day started with some big news from a veteran US player: three-time grand slam quarter-finalist James Blake announced he would retire after the tournament at age 33.

"No real surprise here. This is my last tournament," Blake said, wiping away tears.

"I always wanted to end my career at the US Open."

Blake, an American who attended Harvard before turning professional in 1999, reached a career-high ranking of No 4 in 2006. He is currently 100th and has a 9-13 record this season heading into his first-round match against Ivo Karlovic.

Blake reached three grand slam quarter-finals, including two in New York, losing at that stage to Andre Agassi in 2005 and Roger Federer in 2006. He mentioned that five-set defeat against Agassi as a match that stands out as both a highlight and lowlight of his time on tour.

Blake's announcement comes a year after his friend and former US Davis Cup teammate, Andy Roddick, retired after the US Open.

"Despite the tears, I'm actually really happy about this," said Blake, noting that he looks forward to spending more time with his wife and their one-year-old daughter.

American veteran Venus Williams easily reached the second round by defeating 12th-seeded former Wimbledon semi-finalist Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium 6-1, 6-2. Williams, ranked 60th, took just 84 minutes to avenge a loss to Flipkens at Toronto earlier this month to advance to the second round.

"It's just good to be here, see familiar faces since my first time in 1997 with the beads and the braces," Williams said. "It's good to be back.

"I started off fast and ended up slow. It was tough in the second set. I was glad to close it out."


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