NEW YORK, Aug 31: Defending US Open champions Emma Raducanu and two-time winner at Flushing Meadows Naomi Osaka were eliminated from the season-ending Grand slam, losing their respective first-round matches to Alize Cornet and Danielle Collins on Wednesday (IST).
In her record-breaking 63rd consecutive major appearance, Alize Cornet of France hogged the limelight, ending Raducanu's title defence inside the Louis Armstrong Stadium 3-6, 3-6. Raducanu, who had soared into the top-10 of the WTA rankings in July, will soon drop to outside the top-75 following her first-round exit.
American 19th seed Danielle Collins, who had not played since July, was back to her best in her 7-6(5), 6-3 first-round win against two-time champion Osaka, displaying breath-taking baseline strokes.
The Australian Open finalist, who earned her maiden win in four attempts against Osaka, will face Spain's Cristina Bucsa in the next round.
Raducanu had her serve broken three times in the first set, the last time due to a double fault. It was 3-all in the second when Cornet hit a superb half-volley winner on the way to her sixth break of Raducanu's serve. A seventh break was just enough to get Cornet a spot in the second round.
"My game at the net was pretty good," Cornet was quoted as saying by wtatennis.com. "I did a lot of variation — I think that's what worked tonight."
The 32-year-old Cornet, ranked No.37, has five top-20 wins this season, including the upset of No.1 Iga Swiatek at Wimbledon and a win against Romania's Simona Halep in Melbourne.
Frenchwoman Clara Burel joined the growing list of giant-killing qualifiers at this year's US Open as she toppled Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina 6-4, 6-4 in the first round.
Hot on the heels of Ukrainian Daria Snigur's win over twice Grand Slam winner Simona Halep and Colombian Daniel Galan's triumph over fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, the 131st ranked Burel produced an assured display to eliminate Rybakina.
Kazakhstan's Rybakina squandered six of the seven break points she earned in the first set as she racked up 19 unforced errors.
Former junior number one Burel capitalised on her chances to break in the fifth and ninth games.
Burel broke the Russian-born Rybakina in the opening game of the second set and won more than three-quarters of her first-serve points under hot and humid conditions on day two of the hardcourt major.
She thrust her fists in the air after clinching victory with a backhand winner.
Spanish stalwart and winner of 22 singles majors, Rafael Nadal began his quest for a 23 Grand Slam title defeating Australian Rinky Hijikata 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-3.
The four-time US Open champion, competing here for the first time since he clinched the title in 2019, has won 19 of his past 20 matches at the season's final Grand Slam.
"It's been a long wait. For some time I thought I may not be able to be back, so I am super happy. Night sessions are the best," Nadal was quoted as saying by atptour.com. "I just have to be humble and accept the process, day after day in practices and matches and stay positive."
Nadal's next opponent will be Fognini. The Italian had rallied from two sets down against the 22-time Slam champion in New York in 2015, though the Spaniard leads the head-to-head 13-4.
Fognini battled past Aslan Karatsev of Russia 1-6, 5-7, 6-4, 6-1, 6-4 after three hours and 34 minutes.
Venus Williams made a quiet exit from the U.S. Open singles on Tuesday after losing 6-1 7-6(5) to Belgian Alison Van Uytvanck in front of a half empty Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Cameron Norrie beat Benoit Paire 6-0, 7-6(1), 6-0 in a strange first-round clash at the US Open on Tuesday, where the Frenchman at times appeared not to be making maximum effort and play was stopped when a fan required medical attention.
Norrie, who improved his win-loss record to 42-19 for the year, will next face Portuguese Joao Sousa, who beat Mackenzie McDonald of the United States 1-6, 7-6(7-4), 7-6(7-4), 6-3.
The 5th seed Ons Jabeur reached the 3rd round as she beat Elizabeth Mandlik 7-5, 6-2 on Wednesday.
In other second round matches on Wednesday, Shelby Rogers beat Viktória Kuzmova 7-5, 6-1, Ekaterina Alexandrova beat Peyton Stearns 6-4, 4-6, 7-5.
In men's section, Alexde Minaur beat Cristian Garín 6-3, 6-0, 4-6, 6-2 in a 2nd round match. Agencies
Also Read: Iconic 70s Soft Drink 'Campa Cola' Is Set to Take On The Indian Market