Djokovic Winces, Gasquet Crashes Out
As he served early on, pain flashed across the face of Novak Djokovic. The wrist again? No, apparently it was the right arm that needed treatment this time.
A medical time-out followed. And much as Novak tried to dismiss the entire episode as precautionary, that wince didn’t lie.
The world number one had a victory to back up his claims that all was well, even if his match against the tall Pole, Jerzy Janowicz, wasn’t won in straight sets.
Time will tell in this physically demanding fortnight whether Djokovic can manage his aches and pains and still hit top form, or else succumb to his physical troubles and fall away early, as he did at Wimbledon.
Jiri Vesely, the Czech who beat him in Monte Carlo, waits in the next round and will hope to expose any lingering frailties.
But Novak was certainly playing down that time-out. ‘It was just prevention. It’s all good. It’s getting better and better each day.
‘Hopefully as the tournament progresses, I’ll reach my peak. There are periods when you’re not feeling one hundred per cent but I don’t think it’s necessary to talk about this now.
‘I’m just glad to come through this day and let’s keep on moving.’
The erratic Frenchman, who was 13th seed but has always struggled for consistency, fell prey to huge, scything forehands from Edmund.
Gasquet never managed to gain a foothold and went down 2-6, 2-6, 3-6. Maybe one day, when the brilliant Andy Murray finally retires, it will be Edmund who carries British hopes and becomes a serious contender for Grand Slams.
The Spaniard missed the French Open and Wimbledon with a wrist injury of his own. But he managed to compete at the Olympics, showing glimmers of his old form without winning a medal in the singles.
He opened up with a convincing 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 victory over Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan, although he didn’t want to talk up his chances of further Grand Slam glory too much.
Nadal said: ‘The most important thing is that I am here in New York. Injuries are part of the career. I’ve had a hard time this year.’
And in one of the matches of the first day, John Isner came from two sets down to triumph in a thrilling all-American five-setter against the 18-year-old Frances Tiafoe.