Losing on day one of a grand slam is never fun.
Losing on day one after risking your health by travelling to New York amid the COVID-19 pandemic is even worse.
But losing on day one after winning the first two sets and serving eight double faults and hitting 81 unforced errors? That’s enough to leave a man shirtless and scratching his head.
Ninth seed Diego Schwartzman was the picture of frustration after coughing up a 3-6 4-6 6-2 6-1 7-5 defeat against Britain’s Cam Norrie.
The match included a US Open record 58 break points — Norrie converted 11/31, while Schwartzman broke eight times from 27 opportunities.
“I’m not sure it’s too good of a record to be holding, but I think it had a lot to do with how he returns. It was tough to get free points out there,” said Norrie, who is ranked 76th in the world.
“It shows that it was just two dogs out there battling with no serves really. It was a good match and I guess I’ll take the record.”
The four-hour epic was the most thrilling of the early action as grand slam tennis returns in New York.
NO JOKE AS NOVAK ADVANCES
Pre-tournament favourite Novak Djokovic marched into round two of the US Open as he launched his bid for an 18th grand slam with a straight-sets win.
The world No. 1 dispatched unheralded Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia-Herzegovina 6-1 6-4 6-1 under floodlights at an empty Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The Serbian superstar took just 23 minutes to win the first set before labouring to a narrow victory in an hour-long second set.
With Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer absent, Djokovic is looking to close the gap on them in the race for the all-time men’s singles grand slam record.
Djokovic currently has 17, behind Nadal on 19 and Federer on 20.
Fifth seed Alexander Zverev was also made to work hard as he progressed into round two following a three-hour-long tussle with 2017 finalist Kevin Anderson.
The German, seeking his first grand slam title, took the first set on a tie-break 7-6 (7/2) before losing the second 7-5 in an eerily empty Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Ultimately, the 23-year-old proved too much for the South African veteran, winning the third set 6-3 and the fourth 7-5.
Afterwards he shared a moment on a big screen with his tennis-playing brother Mischa Zverev who was beamed into the stadium from his sofa at home.
“I am actually quite happy with a first round like that,” said Zverev, who reached his first Grand Slam semi-final at the Australian Open earlier this year.
“Kevin is not someone you usually play in a first round. This is a fourth round, quarter-final, semi-final match normally against him. I am extremely happy to be through,” he added.
Earlier, fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas eased into the second round of the Flushing Meadows tournament, which is being played without fans due to coronavirus, with a straight-sets win over Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas.
The Greek player needed just one hour and 38 minutes to dispose of the world number 41, 6-2, 6-1, 6-1.
The 22-year-old Tsitsipas, sixth on the ATP rankings, will play American wildcard Maxime Cressy after he defeated Slovakian Jozef Kovalik, ranked 123 in the world, 6-1, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.
Elsewhere in the men’s draw on day one, 12th seed Canadian Denis Shapovalov required four sets to overcome US wildcard Sebastian Korda.
The 21-year-old left-hander won the first set 6-4 before losing the second by the same score. But he rallied to win the next two 6-3, 6-2.
“Playing without the fans is definitely different,” Shapovalov said. “You know, I love to use the fans to kind of pump me up. So I had to do that within myself. But I’m getting familiar with it pretty quick,” he added.
Frenchman Gilles Simon enjoyed a straightforward victory over Egypt’s Mohamed Safwat. The 35-year-old triumphed 6-1, 6-4, 6-4.
Adrian Mannarino, also of France, defeated Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego 6-1, 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 in a match that lasted two hours and 41 minutes.
Australia’s Marc Polmans coughed up a two sets to one lead against American Marcos Giron to lose 6-4 6-7 3-6 6-4 6-2 but compatriot Jordan Thompson eased past Italy’s Stefano Travaglia 6-3 6-4 4-6 6-2..
World number one and overwhelming favourite Novak Djokovic began his hunt for an 18th Grand Slam on Arthur Ashe Stadium later on Monday.
With Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer absent, Djokovic is looking to close the gap on them in the race for the all-time men’s singles Grand Slam record.
— with AFP