A former finalist and a past champion took steps in the right direction as the US Open began on Monday, with 2022 runner-up Casper Ruud and 2020 winner Dominic Thiem both reaching the second round.
Ruud, ranked fifth and performing below par this season, dispatched US qualifier Emilio Nava 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(5) .
It marked the 200th career victory for the quiet Norwegian.
Ruud was joined as a winner by former holder Thiem, who won a match here for the first time since his run to the title three years ago at the COVID-era edition played without spectators.
Ruud handled Nava despite 72 winners off the racquet of the hopeful, with the seed managing 27. The Scandinavian held his unforced errors to 21 while Nava had nearly 50.
Ruud improved to 10-5 at the ;last major of the season and will have built confidence after losing the final a year ago to Carlos Alcaraz.
“There were some great rallies and he played great,” the winner said.
“I was happy with my level. It’s tough in the first rounds of a Slam when
you’re high-seeded and whoever you play can play freely with their shoulders down and nothing to lose really.
“As a seeded player, you feel a little more pressure – you have everything to lose against someone who is younger, can play freely and can play aggressive.
“I’m very glad I was able to win those two tiebreaks and not go into a fifth set.”
Ruud now plays Zhang Zhizhen, after China’s “Treble Zed” put out American JJ Wolf 7-5, 7-5, 6-7(5), 4-6, 6-3..
Thiem, who suffered a wrist injury in summer, 2021, has not won a Grand Slam match since the Australian Open fourth round five months before his injury,.
The 29-year-old Austrian could not have asked for a better opening day result.
“This is a pretty special victory, my first in two-and-a-half years at the Grand Slams.
“Six Grand Slams without a match win. So it’s great – especially here at the US Open with all the past and all the memories I have here.”
Danish hope and world No. 4 Holger Rune became a victim on the day going down to Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baeno 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.
The Paris and Wimbledon quarter-finalist has been fighting injury during the hardcourt summer losing his nly match in Toronto and retiring in his Cincinnati opener this month.
“Disappointing day today. I had a setback after the tournaments in Toronto and Cincy where I had to retire.
“Not the best preparation… it’s tough (to know) what to believe before you enter big tournaments like this.
“I’m not satisfied with the result obviously – also not with my tennis. There is only one way (to improve) and it’s to work.”
Pre-match, Rune had tweeted out a map of the tournament grounds, telling fans they might have to search for the side court No. 5 venue where his opener was scheduled.
“I just did it kind of for fun, of course I was a bit unhappy when I saw the schedule.
“It’s not like I can’t play tennis if I play not on center court. I’ve I played probably more matches on outside courts in my life than big courts, so all good.”
Rune dropped serve seven times in a contest lasting for two and three-quarter hours; the Spaniard beat a Top 10 opponent on his 14th attempt.
Rune has not won a match since Wimbledon where he was beaten by ATP No. 1 Alcaraz.
Rune was treated for a left leg problem in the third set.
“It’s not ideal that I didn’t get more matches coming into this tournament,” the Dane said.
American Frances Tiafoe, the main home hope, began 6-2, 7-5, 6-1 over 700th-ranked learner Tien of the US.
Main photo;-Roberto Carabelles Baena beating No.4 seed Holger rune today – by Roger Parker International Sports Fotos Ltd.