Nishikori, Ivanovic out as U.S. Open starts with upsets
By Steve Keating
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Kei Nishikori was back in the U.S. Open spotlight on Monday but for all the wrong reasons as last year's runner-up headlined a day of first-round upsets at Flushing Meadows.
Fourth seed Nishikori, who last year became the first Asian man to reach a grand slam final, found defeat hard to swallow after squandering two match points in the 6-4 3-6 4-6 7-6(6) 6-4 loss to Frenchman Benoit Paire.
The 25-year-old Japanese had plenty of company at the exit following a string of opening-day upsets that included Serbian seventh seed and former world number one Ana Ivanovic, eighth seeded Czech Karolina Pliskova and 10th-seed Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain.
A hot, muggy day that attracted a record first session crowd of over 37,000 got off to an ominous start when 50th-ranked Slovakian Dominika Cibulkova dispatched Ivanovic 6-3 3-6 6-3 on the Arthur Ashe Stadium court.
Anna Tatishvili gave the home fans a reason to get excited as the 121st-ranked American qualifier destroyed Pliskova 6-2 6-1 while Frenchwoman Oceane Dodin kept the upsets trending with 2-6 7-5 6-3 victory over Jelena Jankovic, the 21st seed and 2008 U.S. Open runner-up.
It was Nishikori, however, who generated the opening day buzz as his hopes of making another magical U.S. Open run came to a quick end.
Marin Cilic, who beat Nishikori in last year's final, had no opening day hiccups as the ninth-seeded Croat began defense of his title with a 6-3 7-6(3) 7-6(3) win over Argentine qualifier Guido Pella.
Recovering from a wobbly first set Nishikori had looked ready to survive the opening test taking a 6-4 lead in the fourth set tiebreak. Continued...