At the onset of a tournament that has many people believing it could play host to a deep run by the American men, two of the country’s top-ranked players cruised into the second round on Monday.
Steve Johnson (pictured above), currently ranked 48th in the world, notched an impressive win on Grandstand, moving past Spain’s Nicolas Almagro, 6-4, 7-6(2), 7-6(5). In all, Johnson fired 37 winners to just 26 unforced errors, saving his best tennis for the two tiebreaks in the final sets to move into the U.S. Open second round for the second consecutive year.
“Any time you can get to a Grand Slam and get through day one in straights, it’s definitely a win,” said Johnson. “I played some good points in the tiebreakers to get up and get through it. I’m glad to be in here right now and not playing a fourth or a fifth set potentially.”
In the second round, Johnson will take on Kyle Edmund of Great Britain, who rolled past the 32nd-seeded Robin Haase of Netherlands, 6-3, 7-5, 6-3 in his opening round match Monday.
John Isner, the highest-ranked American at 15th in the world, moved into the next round with a 6-1, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 victory over France’s Pierre-Hugues Herbert. Isner hit a whopping 59 winners to just 20 unforced errors over the course of the match, and converted on the only break point he had in the final set to push through in two hours and 23 minutes.
Awaiting Isner in the second round is South Korea’s Hyeon Chung, who came back to win 3-6, 7-6(8), 6-4, 6-3 over Argentina’s Horacio Zeballos.
Former U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic had to overcome a valiant effort from American Tennys Sandgren, but came through it for the 6-4, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 win. Cilic hit 55 winners in the match to advance in two hours and 48 minutes. Cilic plays Germany’s Florian Mayer next, a 7-5, 0-6, 6-3, 6-4 winner Monday over Brazil’s Rogerio Dutra Silva.
Three-time quarterfinalist and eighth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga pulled out a routine 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 win over Marius Copil, hitting a positive ratio of 38 winners to 28 unforced errors to advance in less than two hours.
He plays the winner of the matchup featuring Canada’s Denis Shapovalov and Daniil Medvedev of Russia.
Spain’s David Ferrer lost in the first round of a Grand Slam for the first time in 12 years, as Mikhail Kukushkin, a qualifier from Kazakhstan, came back from a set down to beat the number 21 seed, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-1. Kukushkin takes on Russia’s Evgeny Donskoy in the second round.
The run of American qualifier J.C. Aragone came to an end, as the big South African Kevin Anderson fired 22 aces to push through with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 win. Anderson awaits the winner of the Monday afternoon matchup between Ernests Gulbis and Alessandro Gianessi.
Brian Coleman is the Senior Editor for Long Island Tennis Magazine. He may be reached at email@example.com.