By HOWARD FENDRICH AP Tennis Author
NEW YORK — Serena and Venus Williams traded fist bumps or palm slaps and chatted between factors. They smiled whereas conversing of their seats at changeovers.
When their first doubles match collectively in 4½ years ended with a loss at the united statesOpen on Thursday night time, the siblings hugged one another, then left the court docket to a standing ovation.
The Williams sisters had been eradicated by the Czech pair of Lucie Hradecka and Linda Noskova, 7-6 (5), 6-4, at Flushing Meadows.
“I used to be speechless once I came upon I’m going to face these two. I imply, they’re legends. And I used to be at all times such a giant fan of them, particularly Serena. She has been my idol since ever, most likely,” mentioned Noskova, a 17-year-old making her Grand Slam debut in doubles. “So I used to be actually blissful, excited, however sort of scared, to face them.”
Arthur Ashe Stadium had by no means hosted a first-round doubles match – for ladies or males, throughout the night time or day – till this one that includes two members of 1 household who’ve mixed to assert 14 Grand Slam titles in doubles.
“It’s one thing unbelievable, as a result of enjoying first spherical in an enormous stadium, with 23,000 folks, is one thing wonderful,” mentioned the 37-year-old Hradecka, who gained main doubles trophies with Andrea Hlavackova on the 2013 U.S. Open and 2011 French Open. “I don’t suppose (when) we performed the ultimate right here, it was packed like this.”
The Williams sisters, who didn’t do interviews after the match, had been partnering up for the primary time for the reason that 2018 French Open. This was their fourth first-round doubles defeat at a Slam; the latest had been on the 2013 French Open.
“I’m nonetheless in shock that we gained,” Hradecka mentioned in an on-court interview proper after the match’s conclusion.
Talking to the sellout crowd of 23,859, she mentioned: “I’m so sorry for you that we beat them, however we’re so blissful that we did it.”
The followers weren’t almost as boisterous as they had been for every of the 2 victories in singles this week for Serena, who has hinted that this would be the closing occasion of her profession.
Serena performs Ajla Tomljanovic on Friday night time within the third spherical of singles; Venus was bounced from that bracket within the first spherical.
After a moderately subdued entrance from the locker room by Hradecka and Noskova, who had been competing as a crew for the primary time, a video tribute to the Williams-Williams pairing performed on the Ashe videoboards, with a narrator introducing “two of the best athletes on Planet Earth” and, in a reference to Serena’s looming retirement, saying, “It’s not too late to vary your thoughts.”
There was footage of them by the years, together with as children with white beads of their hair (like Serena’s daughter, Olympia, wore on opening night time) and, later, profitable titles.
Olympia, who turned 5 on Thursday, was not there for this one, Serena’s husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian was, as had been the sisters’ mom, Oracene Value, and their sister, Isha.
In the course of the pre-match warmup, the announcer famous that the sisters are 14-0 in Grand Slam doubles finals and declared: “They’ve remodeled and elevated the game as we all know it.”
The spectators saved their greatest cheers for a few of Serena’s finest efforts, whether or not aces or put-aways or an on-the-run forehand winner. The sisters went up 5-4 early and held two set factors there on Noskova’s serve, however couldn’t convert both.
The loudest second most likely arrived after a 19-stroke level gained by the sisters throughout the first-set tiebreaker, that includes three swinging volleys by Serena. That put them forward 4-3, and shortly it was 5-3.
However Hradecka and Noskova grabbed the subsequent 4 factors to assert that set. They then jumped forward 3-0 within the second, and after the Williams sisters made it 4-all, the Czech crew pulled away.
The Williams siblings acquired a wild-card entry into this yr’s doubles area. Serena, who turns 41 subsequent month, and Venus, who turned 42 in June, gained doubles trophies on the U.S. Open in 1999 – the yr Serena gained her first main singles trophy at age 17 in New York – and 2009.
They’ve a complete of 30 main trophies in singles: 23 for Serena, seven for Venus.
“Taking part in in opposition to the Williams sisters,” Noskova mentioned, “is a particular second for everyone.”
NADAL HITS NOSE WITH RACKET, TOPS FOGNINI
Rafael Nadal minimize himself on the bridge of his nostril along with his personal racket when it ricocheted off the court docket on the follow-through from a shot, leaving himself bloodied and dizzy throughout his second-round victory.
Play was delayed for about 5 minutes throughout a medical timeout within the fourth set of what would develop into a 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-1 win in opposition to Fabio Fognini at Arthur Ashe Stadium in a match that ended after midnight ET.
It made for a weird, and briefly scary, scene, as Nadal instantly grimaced, dropped his racket, put a palm to his face after which positioned each arms on his head. He mentioned throughout his post-match information convention that he thought immediately he may need damaged his nostril, which stored swelling.
He mentioned it was a “shock” when it occurred and he felt “a bit bit out of the world.”
Nonetheless, Nadal managed to joke about all of it. Requested throughout his on-court interview whether or not he’d ever had that occur earlier than, he mustered a chuckle and replied: “With a golf membership however not with a tennis racket.”
How was he feeling?
“Nicely, just a bit bit dizzy in the beginning,” mentioned Nadal, who has gained 4 of his 22 Grand Slam titles on the U.S. Open, most just lately in 2019, the final time he entered the hard-court event. “A bit bit painful.”
The episode got here on the primary level of the sport with Nadal main 3-0 within the fourth set and clearly in command after ceding the opening set for the second match in a row this week.
The 36-year-old from Spain was shifting to his proper when he hit a backhand. After making contact with the ball, his racket deflected off the bottom and smacked him on the nostril.
He went over to the sideline and lay down, ready for the coach, and Fognini went over to test on Nadal.
“He advised me every little thing was OK,” Fognini mentioned later. “I hope it’s nothing critical.”
After having a bandage placed on his nostril, Nadal resumed play. He would lose that sport, however not one other, bettering to 21-0 in Grand Slam matches in 2022.
Nadal gained the Australian Open in January and the French Open in June for his 14th title there, then made it to the Wimbledon semifinals in July earlier than the stomach difficulty compelled him to withdraw (which doesn’t go into the books as a loss).
The match in opposition to Fognini, who beat him on the 2015 U.S. Open, didn’t start auspiciously for Nadal. His photographs had been off and he shortly fell behind.
“For multiple hour and a half, I used to be not competing,” Nadal mentioned. “One of many worst begins, most likely, ever.”
The second set was hardly a factor of magnificence for both man, stuffed with poor play by each: They mixed for 39 unforced errors and merely 9 winners, seven service breaks and solely three holds.
“I used to be fortunate, actually, that Fabio made some errors in that second set,” Nadal acknowledged.
When Nadal dumped a backhand into the web, Fognini broke to steer 3-2, then went forward 4-2. However from there, it was Fognini who faltered, lacking 4 photographs in a row to get damaged at love as a part of a four-game run by Nadal to make it a set apiece.
“With Nadal, you possibly can’t fiddle,” Fognini mentioned. “I let him again within the match and he stored getting higher from there.”
Within the third, Nadal got here up with one significantly good shot – a forehand on the run that redirected an overhead by Fognini and despatched it down the road for a winner to interrupt for 4-2. Nadal’s momentum carried him proper to the sting of the stands, the place 1000’s had been on their ft, and he punched the air and yelled, “Vamos!”
Not lengthy after, that set belong to Nadal, too, and he would accumulate 16 of the final 19 video games.
SWIATEK CRUISING WITH LESS ATTENTION
Iga Swiatek is profitable simply – and quietly.
At this U.S. Open, even the world’s top-ranked participant is a distant No. 2 so long as Serena Williams remains to be round.
“Yeah, that’s sort of her time proper now,” Swiatek mentioned. “I’m simply, , enjoying and specializing in that, and that’s crucial factor for me.”
The 2-time French Open champion beat 2017 U.S. Open winner Sloane Stephens, 6-3, 6-2, on Thursday within the second spherical for her WTA Tour-leading fiftieth victory this season.
A day after Williams eradicated No. 2 seed Anett Kontaveit, with No. 3 Maria Sakkari shedding earlier Wednesday, Swiatek maybe looms as a fair greater menace to win a seventh title this yr, one thing no girl has executed since Williams in 2014. Previous U.S. Open champions Naomi Osaka and Emma Raducanu have additionally been eradicated, together with 2021 runner-up Leylah Fernandez.
No. 6 Aryna Sabalenka remained the one ladies’s semifinalist from final yr within the area – barely – by erasing two match factors and edging Kaia Kanepi, 2-6, 7-6 (8), 6-4. However fourth-seeded Paula Badosa was knocked out with a 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-2 loss to Croatian Petra Martic.
Swiatek got here to the U.S. Open simply 4-4 in her final eight matches after profitable 37 in a row, however she has dropped simply eight video games by two rounds. She wanted solely 74 minutes to beat Stephens, having no hassle along with her first match in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
“Actually, I simply tried to have the identical sort of motivation or angle as some other court docket, as a result of it’s the easiest way for me to carry out good,” Swiatek mentioned.
Williams resumes what could possibly be her closing singles event Friday, main off the night time session on Ashe for the third time this week in opposition to Ajla Tomljanovic.
Different winners Thursday included No. 8 Jessica Pegula, No. 9 Garbiñe Muguruza, No. 13 Belinda Bencic and No. 26 Victoria Azarenka.
No. 3 Carlos Alcaraz tied for the season lead in victories on the boys’s tour along with his forty sixth by beating Federico Coria of Argentina, 6-2, 6-1, 7-5.
No. 7 Cam Norrie, No. 9 Andrey Rublev, No. 11 Jannik Sinner and No. 15 Marin Cilic, the 2014 U.S. Open champion, superior, however No. 25 Borna Coric was upset by American Jenson Brooksby, 6-4, 7-6 (10), 6-1. Brooksby reached the fourth spherical at Flushing Meadows as a 20-year-old final yr, profitable a set from Novak Djokovic.
He’ll play the Nineteenth-year-old Alcaraz subsequent.
“I’m going to herald my finest,” Alcaraz mentioned. “It’s going to be an excellent, aggressive battle on the market.”
Pegula returned to the court docket later Thursday with Coco Gauff, and the second-seeded crew was upset by Fernandez and Daria Saville, 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (5).
Gauff can also be nonetheless alive in singles, going through fellow American Madison Keys on Friday afternoon. However she and Pegula had been additionally relying on a long term in doubles, as they made in reaching the French Open closing.
Gauff just lately turned the second-youngest participant to achieve No. 1 within the WTA doubles rankings. She had already reached the U.S. Open closing final yr with Caty McNally.
UKRAINE’S KOSTYUK REFUSES AZARENKA HANDSHAKE
A Ukrainian participant declined to shake arms with Victoria Azarenka after the three-time U.S. Open runner-up from Belarus beat her at Flushing Meadows on Thursday.
Marta Kostyuk waited on the internet along with her racket held up, which Azarenka tapped along with her racket following her 6-2, 6-3 victory.
Belarus helped Russia launch its invasion of Ukraine in February, and Kostyuk mentioned it had been on her thoughts since she noticed the U.S. Open draw that she could should play Azarenka within the second spherical.
“It’s fairly private,” Kostyuk mentioned. “It wasn’t a private match for me as a result of it was Vika particularly, however total it was not only a informal match that I play in a event.”
Requested concerning the conventional handshake that follows a match, Kostyuk mentioned: “I simply don’t suppose it’s the appropriate factor to do within the circumstances I’m in proper now.”
Azarenka mentioned she had already confronted that scenario with a Ukrainian participant when she performed Dayana Yastremska final month in Washington.
“It’s what it’s. I simply transfer on,” Azarenka mentioned. “I can’t drive anyone to shake my hand. It’s their resolution.”
Kostyuk mentioned she texted Azarenka a day earlier than the match to tell her there could be no handshake. Azarenka returned the textual content, telling Kostyuk she was now not on web site, so Kostyuk dropped the topic as a result of she wished to ship the message in particular person.
Azarenka mentioned she reached out to all of the Ukrainian gamers she has a relationship with in March after the invasion. Kostyuk isn’t one among them, however Azarenka mentioned she tried however.
“Nicely, I’ve supplied many instances by the WTA, as a result of I imagine that there’s a form of sensitivity. I’ve been advised that that’s not an excellent time,” Azarenka mentioned.
“If Marta needs to talk with me, like she texted me yesterday, I replied. I’m open any time to hear, to attempt to perceive, to sympathize. I imagine that empathy within the second like that is actually vital, which has, once more, been my clear message at first.”
Kostyuk questioned Azarenka being a part of the “Tennis Performs for Peace Exhibition” that the U.S. Tennis Affiliation held the week earlier than the event to lift cash for Ukraine. Azarenka was dropped from the lineup the day of the occasion, which helped generate greater than $1 million for humanitarian help.
“Everyone seems to be attempting to be tremendous democratic about this factor that occurred and since it’s like, my nation is being killed each day, I’m going to inform you from my perspective in a short time so I don’t suppose I ever need to reply this query once more,” Kostyuk mentioned. “Think about there’s a World Conflict II and there’s a fundraiser for Jewish folks and a German participant needs to play. In the course of the struggle, not 70 years after the struggle occurred. In the course of the struggle. I don’t suppose Jewish folks would perceive.”
Azarenka, a member of the WTA Tour gamers council, mentioned the vital factor was that the occasion was held, not whether or not she was a part of it.
“I really feel like I’ve had a really clear message from the start, is that I’m right here to attempt to assist, which I’ve executed loads,” Azarenka mentioned. “Perhaps not one thing that individuals see and that’s not what I do it for. I do it for individuals who in want, juniors who want garments, different individuals who want cash or different individuals who wanted transportation or no matter. That’s what’s vital to me, to assist individuals are in want.”
Russian and Belarussian gamers had been banned from Wimbledon in response to the struggle. They’re allowed to play on the U.S. Open, with out their nations or their flags being listed.
KYRGIOS FINED FOR CONDUCT
Nick Kyrgios was fined $7,500 for unsportsmanlike conduct throughout his second-round victory Wednesday.
Kyrgios was warned after utilizing profanity towards somebody within the stands. It appeared the Wimbledon runner-up was yelling at somebody in his personal field, telling the particular person to be extra supportive or go away.
The temperamental Australian additionally complained to the chair umpire about the odor of marijuana throughout the second set.
The superb was the very best given to a participant on the event to date.
FIONA FERRO’S FORMER COACH CHARGED WITH RAPE
Pierre Bouteyre, the previous coach of French tennis participant Fiona Ferro, has been charged with raping and sexually assaulting her when she was a teen, based on a report in Agence France-Presse.
Ferro, 25, is the No. 259-ranked participant on the earth and misplaced within the qualifiers on the U.S. Open. She has accused Bouteyre, 50, of rape and sexual assault between 2012 and 2015, when she would have been 15 to 18 years previous, her lawyer advised AFP. Bouteyre traveled with Ferro and was her non-public coach, her lawyer mentioned.
In line with the prosecutor on the case, Bouteyre has been charged with “rape of a minor by an individual having authority over the sufferer” and “sexual assault of a minor over the age of 15 by an individual having authority over the sufferer.”
Bouteyre’s lawyer mentioned to AFP that he “acknowledges the connection occurred however denies any coercion.”
“It was a love story based on him,” his lawyer mentioned.
ESPN tennis analyst Pam Shriver tweeted her assist for Ferro and added, “The easiest way to enhance safeguarding is to inform our tales.”
Bouteyre can also be the previous coach of France’s Alize Cornet, who beat Katerina Siniakova within the second spherical of the U.S. Open. Cornet, 32, defeated defending U.S. Open champion Emma Raducanu within the first spherical. After her second-round win, Cornet was requested by L’Equipe concerning the costs.
“It’s far too critical a topic for me to dwell on throughout the event,” Cornet mentioned in French. “It clearly impacts me loads, and perhaps that’s one of many explanation why I don’t sleep very nicely at night time. Clearly, I ship an enormous assist to Fiona, which I did by message as a result of she is my buddy. It’s horrible, for each of them and particularly for Fiona. He’s been my coach for 10 years, so it’s not cool to be taught that sort of stuff.”
AP employees author Brian Mahoney contributed to this story.