A general view of the empty stands inside Arthur Ashe Stadium as rain interrupts play during Day Three of the 2013 US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City, yesterday. RIGHT: Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus celebrates a point during his men’s singles first round match against Go Soeda of Japan.
NEW YORK: Agnieszka Radwanska and Li Na reached the US Open third round yesterday as defending men’s champion Andy Murray impatiently waited to start his New York campaign.
Radwanska, promoted to third seed after the injury-forced withdrawal of Maria Sharapova, defeated Spanish world number 103 Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor, 6-0, 7-5 while Li, the Chinese fifth seed, beat 100th-ranked Swede Sofia Arvidsson 6-2, 6-2.
Radwanska, who has never got beyond the fourth round in New York, was on course for a quick-fire win over Torro-Flor, her second successive Spanish opponent, when she raced through the first set in just 21 minutes, losing just seven points.
But Torro-Flor, dressed in matching colours of blue and pink, made the Pole work for her win in the second set with three breaks of serve.
Radwanska, however weathered the unexpected storm, going through to a third-round clash against Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, capitalising on her rival’s 38 unforced errors and 10 double faults.
Li, playing in her 30th Grand Slam and a New York quarter-finalist in 2009, clinched her third career win over policeman’s daughter Arvidsson, who has now not progressed beyond the second round in seven attempts.
The Chinese star will next face either British 30th seed Laura Robson, who knocked her out of the tournament in 2012, or France’s Caroline Garcia.
“Both players have improved a lot in the last year,” said Li. “I look forward to the chance of playing Laura.”
Meanwhile, Murray begins the defense of his title almost 48 hours after second seed Rafael Nadal, viewed as the most likely contender to triumph this year, started his campaign.
“I’m playing my first round match at the us open at 7pm on a wednesday...,” tweeted Murray in thinly-veiled frustration at a schedule which will see even first-round matches in the mixed doubles completed before he takes the court. Having ended Britain’s embarrassing Grand Slam hoodoo with his US Open breakthrough 12 months ago, Murray starts his first major as a defending champion against Michael Llodra, the 33-year-old Frenchman who is edging towards retirement. The 26-year-old Murray has added the Wimbledon title since winning in New York in 2012, comfortably burying for ever all talk of Fred Perry, the country’s last men’s champion at a major in 1936.
Meanwhile, rain and lightning fears halted play at the US Open yesterday, stopping seven singles matches and delaying the start of matches for past champions Venus Williams and Juan Martin del Potro. Officials said play would not resume in part because of threatening lightning in the area.
Williams, the 60th-ranked winner of the 2000 and 2001 US Opens, was set to face China’s 56th-ranked Zheng Jie at Louis Armstrong Stadium.
Argentina’s fourth-seeded Del Potro, the 2009 US Open winner, was preparing to meet Spain’s Guillermo Garcia-Lopez at Arthur Ashe Stadium. The third day of the tournament will also see the Grand Slam return of former world number one Martina Hingis, who will play doubles with Daniela Hantuchova.