Australia’s stocks are thin but we’re still swinging after the first round of the men’s and women’s singles at the US Open. Lleyton Hewitt on one leg and journeywoman Nicole Pratt survived the rain-delayed opening round overnight.

The bad news was that Mark Philippoussis fell to Rafael Nadal.

Pratt started slowly against Venezuela’s Milagros Sequera this morning, Australian time, quickly losing the first set, but fought back to take the next two sets and the match, 1-6, 7-5, 6-2.

You have admire Pratt for keeping going. Her singles record at Flushing Meadow now stands at six matches won over ten years.

Scud fell to the world number two, the French Open champion and Wimbledon runner-up, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. No real shame there. In fact, Philippoussis played well, landing his serve after being broken in the opening game, and pushed Nadal all the way, even if it always did feel like he was going to come up slightly short, as it proved.

But given his last few years in the tennis wilderness, his recent title at Rhode Island and now this showing against Nadal might give Scud some much-needed self-belief. If he can only get out there on the circuit, week in, week out, for more than a week in a row, he might yet produce some tennis worth cheering.

Nadal said afterwards he was impressed by the Victorian. “Philippoussis is a very big server,” the Spaniard with the biceps told reporters. “He served unbelievable, especially the first serve. Sometimes three aces in one game, two aces. But I was in the beginning very, very good. I play unbelievable first game. That’s important for the rest, for the confidence.”

Hewitt beat another Spaniard, Albert Montanes, 7-5, 6-4, 6-3, in a rain-delayed match, with the only concern being how his troublesome knee would pull up. He’s had tendonitis but now apparently actually has a split in the tendon.

“I’ve already done some treatment and I’ll do some more this afternoon. The knee’s not a hundred percent, no… but at this stage I’m trying to focus on getting through the first week and the next couple of matches,” said Hewitt. “I’ll be getting better and better with my rhythm and timing and confidence. And you know, hopefully that can put me in a good position to maybe have another run at it.”

Peter Fray

Fetch your first 12 weeks for $12

Here at Crikey, we saw a mighty surge in subscribers throughout 2020. Your support has been nothing short of amazing — we couldn’t have got through this year like no other without you, our readers.

If you haven’t joined us yet, fetch your first 12 weeks for $12 and start 2021 with the journalism you need to navigate whatever lies ahead.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW