The 2012 US Open Tennis Tournament only began on Monday and already has been full of drama.
Kim Clijsters was sent packing for good by British teenager Laura Robson 6-7(5), 6-7(5) on Wednesday afternoon, in the second round. She had previously announced before the tournament began that these would be her last competitive matches.
Clijsters had won the previous three US Open tournaments in which she had entered in 2005, 2009 and 2010. It was her first loss at the tournament since the 2003 finals. Clijsters first retired from competitive tennis in 2005 before returning in 2009. She missed last year’s US Open due to an injury.
As for Robson, it was a huge victory for the 18-year-old, who is thought to be an up-and-comer in the tennis world. Robson has become an iconic figure in England much like fellow countryman Andy Murray. In fact, Robson and Murray partnered up to win a silver medal in mixed doubles at the London Olympics this year.
In another upset on the women’s side, the eighth-seeded Caroline Wozniacki lost in the first round to the 96th-ranked Irina-Camelia Begu 6-2, 6-2 on Tuesday night. It was the second grand slam in a row where Wozniacki fell in the first round.
It has been an injury plagued season for Wozniacki, who was forced to withdraw from last week’s tournament in New Haven during her semi-final match. Wozniacki’s loss still came as a surprise though considering she was the highest seeded women’s player at the US Open in 2010 and 2011, reaching the semi-finals in both of those years.
The men’s draw so far has been fairly predictable. However, one surprise was the first round upset victory by American teenager Jack Sock over the 22nd-seed German, Florian Mayer, 6-3, 6-2, 3-2 on Monday. Mayer retired while he was trailing during the third set due to an injury.
Sock is being thought of as the next great hope in American men’s tennis, much like Andy Roddick once was. Coincidently, Sock hails from Nebraska which is also where Roddick grew up. However, Sock has a long way to go before drawing any more comparisons to Roddick since he is still 18-years-old, just turned professional and is only currently ranked 242nd. With a few more victories at the US Open though, Sock could easily improve his ranking. Sock faces Italy’s Flavio Cipolla today in the men’s second round.
The highest ranked American man was able to move on to the second round despite a difficult match on Wednesday. John Isner, seeded ninth, defeated Belgium’s Xavier Malisse 6-3, 7-6 (5), 5-7, 7-6 (9). Isner has been remarkable in tie-breakers this season with a record of 37-13, including the two he won on Wednesday.
Another positive note for American men’s tennis was Brian Baker’s 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 victory over Jan Hajek from the Czech Republic. It has been a Cinderella season for Baker, who is playing his first US Open in seven years. He began the year ranked 458th in the world and has worked his way down to 70th.
Baker was a highly talented junior’s player, even winning the junior French Open title in 2003. However, after winning his last first round match at the US Open in 2005, Baker only played in two more lower tiered professional tournaments over the next 5 ½ years, due to several injuries and subsequent surgeries.
After leaving professional tennis to take a coaching job at Belmont University in Tennessee, Baker was encouraged to give professional tennis one last try. This season he was able to reach the second round of the French Open and the fourth round of Wimbledon.
The action continues on through September 9 and with so many American players still in the hunt local fans have someone to cheer on. Of course some of the biggest names in tennis will be sure to offer up intriguing matches down the stretch, and despite the withdrawal of Rafael Nadal the men’s side won’t disappoint.
Top seed Roger Federrer, arguably the greatest tennis player of all-time, is up against tough competition as he seeks his 18th career grand slam. In order to do so he’ll most likely have to take on third seed Andy Murray, in a rematch of the gold match in this year’s London Olympics, as well as Novak Djokovic , the reigning US Open champion. Barring any major upsets in earlier rounds, these matchups will happen in the semi and finals as the top tickets for the tournament.
On the women’s side expect there to be a huge following for matches with fan favorites Venus Williams, Serena Williams, and Maria Sharapova. Each of these women have held the US Open title before — Maria Sharapova is ranked third, Serena Williams follows with the fourth seed, while Venus was not seeded this year but is still deemed a threat pending her health.
With plenty of upsets on the women’s side, and a strong representation from the US on the men’s side there is plenty to watch for tennis fans at this year’s US Open.