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Day 1 of the US Open witnessed three title contenders – Simona Halep, Taylor Fritz, Stefanos Tsitsipas – tumble in the first round. In the night session, Serena Williams won in a packed stadium.

“The US Open set an all-time night-session attendance record on Opening Night tonight with 29,402 fans coming to the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center,” read the statement from the USTA after Monday’s play at Flushing Meadows. The big pull behind this feat? Serena Williams.

The 40-year-old began what could be the final tournament of her career with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Danka Kovinic in a packed Arthur Ashe Stadium. A stadium that had her husband, daughter, family, thousands of Serena loyalists and celebrities in attendance including peers Coco Gauff and Naomi Osaka.

She opted to remain vague about her future plans. the 23-time Grand Slam champion was also not definitive in saying whether this was her last tournament.

For the beaten Kovinic, the roars of the crowd were tough to ignore. It began early and remained through the course of the match. Kovinic said to herself: “OK, if they’re going to be this loud the whole match, it’s going to be tough.”

The 27-year-old from Montenegro said she sometimes had trouble gauging how far Williams’ shots would go because she couldn’t hear the sound off the racket.

Halep, Tsitsipas, Fritz bow out in first round

September 4, 2019 – Belinda Bencic reacts to beating Donna Vekic in a quarterfinal match at the 2019 US Open. (Photo by Pete Staples/USTA)

While Kovinic’s hopes of causing a giant kill didn’t work out, same cannot be said for Daria Snigur who caused arguably the biggest shock of the day.

The Ukrainian upset the seventh seed Simona Halep 6-2, 0-6, 6-4 and then struggled through tears to explain what the victory meant to her family and her country, which is at war with Russia.

When the job was done, she raised her arms in celebration, then lowered them to wrap her hands around the blue-and-yellow ribbon on her chest.

Qualifier Snigur, a 2019 Wimbledon junior champion, was playing her first main draw match at a Grand Slam.

In two-time Grand Slam champion Halep, the 20-year-old had scalped the big ticket. The Romanian had won 19 of her previous 22 matches and recently returned to the top 10.

But Halep’s record at US Open has been dreadful in past few years. She’s lost in the opener in three of last six attempts and gone as far as the fourth round.

That wasn’t the end of upsets though. Fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas dropped the first 11 games to qualifier Daniel Elahi Galan before falling 6-0, 6-1, 3-6, 7-5 in a dreadful show.

Also heading for the exit door was Taylor Fritz. Brandon Holt, son of two-time US Open winner Tracy Austin, knocked off tenth seed Fritz in four sets after advancing through the qualifying tournament into his first Grand Slam main draw.

No such trouble for former champions Medvedev, Murray, Andreescu

Daniil Medvedev had an easy start to his US Open title defense, beating Stefan Kozlov 6-2, 6-4, 6-0.

Medvedev advanced to face Arthur Rinderknech of France. The Russian is trying to become the first repeat champion at the US Open since Roger Federer won five straight from 2004-08.

Andy Murray was another early winner, 10 years after winning his maiden major in Flushing Meadows. He had one of the first upsets of the tournament by beating No. 24 seed Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina 7-5, 6-3, 6-3.

Bianca Andreescu, the 2019 US Open winner, needed three sets to get past Harmony Tan, the French player who beat Williams in the first round at Wimbledon. Although it came at the cost of dissing her own kit manufacturer. Yikes.

Former champions Thiem, Wawrinka bow out

Two past champions had short stays in New York. 2020 champion Dominic Thiem fell to Pablo Carreño Busta in four sets. The 2016 winner, Stan Wawrinka, retired from his match against Corentin Moutet after losing a second-set tiebreaker. Both have been plagued by injuries in recent years.

Slam finalists Fernandez, Kyrgios progress

Last year’s US Open women’s finalist, Leylah Fernandez, and this year’s Wimbledon runner-up, Nick Kyrgios, were winners in night matches.

Wu Yibing makes history for China

Wu Yibing became the first Chinese man to win a US Open match in the professional era, upsetting Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-3, 6-4, 6-0. He had played his way into the field through the qualifying tournament, joining countryman and fellow qualifier Zhang Zhizhen as the first Chinese men in the US Open main draw in the Open Era.

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