Rafa Nadal eased into the second round in defence of his US Open title but was saddened that his win brought David Ferrer’s grand slam career to an end.
The 36-year-old Ferrer, a former world No.3 currently ranked 148, threw in the towel when leading 4-3 with a break in the second set having suffered and received treatment to a left leg injury, and, unable to continue in the hot and humid conditions which prevailed at the time on the Arthur Ashe Stadium, retired.
This is my last Grand Slam. I have great memories of this tournament and I am just sorry that I couldn't finish it tonight David Ferrer
Nadal, the defending US Open champion had taken the first set 6-3, said “I am very sorry for David and sad for him. We are close friends and have shared great moments — the Roland Garros final and Davis Cup wins.
“He is one of the greatest players to have come from our country and a great person.”
Ferrer, one of the top players never to have won a Grand Slam, will bring the curtain down on his career in Madrid next year, confirmed: “This is my last Grand Slam. I have great memories of this tournament and I am just sorry that I couldn’t finish it tonight.”
Meanwhile Nadal, chasing his 18th Grand Slam title, will face Canada’s Vasek Pospisil for a place in the last 32 while his potential semi-final opponent, Juan Martin del Potro, the 2009 US Open champion, successfully cleared his first hurdle 6-0 6-3 6-4 to dismiss qualifier Donald Young for his 30th win at Flushing Meadows having missed three years through wrist injuries.
He next faces Denis Kudla who won his first match in five years at the tournament when he downed Matteo Berrettini of Italy 6-4 7-5 6-2.
Stan Wawrinka, the 2016 champion who was absent the following year because of two knee surgeries, is certainly recovering his form as he defeated the eighth-seeded Grigor Dimitrov 6-3 6-2 7-5 for the second successive time at a Grand Slam.
“The last time I played on this great court, I won the title so it was great to be able to come back and play again,” said the 33-year-old Swiss who is currently languishing at 101 in the rankings, dismissing the medical time-out he took early in the third set.
South African fifth seed Kevin Anderson, the 2017 US Open runner-up and this year’s Wimbledon finalist, also needed a medical timeout for a leg injury in the third set of his clash with Ryan Harrison but recovered to win 7-6(4) 5-7 4-6 6-3 6-4.
However, the most dramatic retirement was that of the 18-year-old Canadian qualifier Felix Auger-Aliassime who pulled out of his match with compatriot and good friend Denis Shapovalov, 19, with an irregular heartbeat.
Shapovalov, seeded 28th, was leading 7-5 5-7 4-1 at the time.
Another youngster who has made it through the opening stages is the 15th seed from Greece, Stefanos Tsitsipas, the Toronto giant killer, who saw off 36-year-old Tommy Robredo of Spain 6-3 7-6(1) 6-4.
During the match Tsitsipas told an over-enthusiastic fan in the crowd to shut up only to reveal later: “It was one of my friends that came from Australia to support me. When you’re concentrated during a match, you’re trying to manage things, go with your tactics, and someone starts screaming from outside, Go to T or wide, it just plays with your mind.”
Jack Sock won his first match since May and ended a four-match first round losing streak at the Slams with a 6-0 7-6(4) 6-2 victory over Guido Andreozzi of Argentina.
The world number 11, John Isner, the top-ranked American at the tournament, easily overcame countryman Bradley Klahn 7-6 6-3 6-4.
Isner fired 20 aces en-route to victory and he’ll now face Nicolas Jarry, who dismissed Peter Gojowczyk 7-6 4-6 6-1 7-5.