US Open: Edmund and Konta through as Murray and Robson wait
Edmund pulls off the shock of the first round as he beats Richard Gasquet and Novak Djokovic labours to victory over Janowicz
Andy Murray could have unexpected company at the US Open over the next fortnight.
Fellow Brit Kyle Edmund produced the shock of the opening day as he beat 13th seed Richard Gasquet in the men's draw, while Johanna Konta, seeded 13th in the women's draw, powered past US player Bethanie Mattek-Sands.
And Murray would have been encouraged further by the sight of his nemesis Novak Djokovic apparently struggling with injury as he took on Jerzy Janowicz.
The world number 84 stunned Gasquet in straight sets as his evolution from "a player with undoubted potential into a fully fledged top-flight performer... took its second major step forward in the space of six weeks", says Barry Flatman in The Times.
Edmund impressed in Murray's absence against Serbia in the Davis Cup and now has the prospect of a decent run at Flushing Meadow ahead of him - the withdrawal of Lukas Lacko means his second-round opponent will be world number 201 Ernesto Escobedo, who was given a wild-card entry.
Although he is currently the UK number four, Edmund is Murray's "heir apparent", says Simon Briggs of the Daily Telegraph. He "simply outgunned" Gasquet, who "lacked intensity, played too slowly, and allowed Edmund to dictate with the forehand that has become one of the heaviest shots in world tennis".
The Australian-born British number one has had a remarkable 2016, during which she has established herself in the top 20 of the women's game and appeared in the semi-final of the Australian Open. She confirmed her new status with a "comfortable" win over Mattek-Sands.
The American won a gold medal in the mixed doubles at the Olympics and she and partner Jack Sock knocked Konta and Jamie Murray out of the competition in Rio. "But singles put a very different focus on the confrontation and Konta rarely seemed in any danger as she comfortably moved through to a place in the second round, against Tsvetana Pironkova, the Bulgarian," says Flatman of the Times.
Last year, Konta made the fourth round in New York as a qualifier ranked 97th in the world. This year, she "looked every inch a player closing in on the top ten as she dismissed Mattek-Sands", says the BBC. "The Briton controlled the contest with her backhand and was rarely troubled on serve as she won in 81 minutes on the new Grandstand court."
The world number one "managed to emerge with a 6-3, 5-7, 6-2, 6-1 victory over Jerzy Janowicz of Poland in the first round of the US Open on Monday night, but there were plenty of signs of trouble, starting with a visit from a trainer who massaged Djokovic’s bothersome arm after only five games", says The Guardian.
The Serb looked unhappy throughout the encounter and refused to answer questions about his fitness afterwards. However, the numbers tell their own story. "During the match, Djokovic hit first serves around 100mph, sometimes slower — 25mph or so below his usual average speed. He hit second serves in the low 80s," says the Guardian. "In the stands, Djokovic's coach, Boris Becker, gnawed on his fingernails, looking nervous as can be."
After winning Wimbledon and gold at the Olympics, Murray begins his assault on the US Open with a grudge match against Lukas Rosol. The pair had a run in when they met in Munich in 2015, says Kevin Mitchell of the Guardian. Rosol shoulder-barged the Scot during a changeover and Murray was caught on mic telling the Czech no-one on the tour liked him.
Rosol has "enough attitude for an entire locker room of Tour-hardened veterans", says Mitchell. "Murray confirms they spoke about the incident afterwards but he might not be taking tea with the combustible Czech," he adds. "If Murray gets the job done in three quick rounds, memories of Munich will fade even further into the distance."
Also on day two, Laura Robson, who came through qualifying to make the main draw, continues her comeback with a match against fellow Brit Naomi Broady.