WORLD number one and defending US Open champion Rafael Nadal sent his close friend David Ferrer into Grand Slam retirement when his veteran compatriot was forced to quit their first round match with an injury.
Ferrer, a former world number three but now standing at a lowly 148, called it quits on a hot and humid night on Arthur Ashe Stadium despite leading 4-3 with a break in the second set after twice receiving treatment on a left leg injury. Yes, he got to depart by sharing the court with his friend and Spanish Davis Cup teammate Rafael Nadal, under the lights on the big stage of Arthur Ashe Stadium at the U.S. Open. But I am sure that he will have the right finish for him in the tournaments that he decides to play to finish his career.
In the women's section, Serena Williams made a triumphant return, launching her bid for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam victory with a straight-sets win as top-seeded Simona Halep made dubious history with a first-round exit.
Men's first round: No. 2 Roger Federer beat Yoshihito Nishioka 6-2, 6-2, 6-4; No. 6 Novak Djokovic beat Marton Fucsovics 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-0; No. 21 Kei Nishikori beat Maximilian Marterer 6-2, 6-2, 6-3; Frances Tiafoe beat No. 29 Adrian Mannarino 6-1, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.
Ferrer's Grand Slam career comes to a disappointing end; ten quarter-finals, five semi-finals, and a final.
It was Sock's first victory in singles since beating David Ferrer in Rome in May. "And I can see that the last tournaments, it went really high, from struggling in the match, to competing at really high level".
As for the players who have to cope with the sweltering conditions, it is all part of the brutal test that is the fourth and final Grand Slam of the year.
"She played her best when I was up", said Williams after the almost three-hour match.
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"He is one of the greatest players to have come from our country".
One of the most eagerly-anticipated matches of the day was between Canadian teenagers Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime.
"I have really good memories here at the US Open", Ferrer said. Auger-Aliassime already had been visited by a doctor during a changeover in the third set and said his heart was racing.
But the Romanian, who broke through for a first Grand Slam title at the French Open this year, had no answer for Kanepi's power.
Wawrinka, the former world No 3, now down at 101, shrugged off having to take a medical time-out early in the third set.
The first time the duo met in NY, 11 years ago, Ferrer triumphed in four sets.
Halep's loss was the first match at the rebuilt Louis Armstrong Stadium, which now has about 14,000 seats and a retractable roof, and what a way to get things started.
Several players requested medical attention due to the heat during their matches on Monday while some on the women's side opted to take advantage of a 10-minute heat break between the second and third sets of their matches.