It’s the first US Open since 2003 without Rafael Nadal! The 2010 champion has been struggling with a knee injury since Wimbledon. Among distinctive names also withdrew: Gael Monfils, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Juan Ignacio Chela (all guys inactive in recent weeks) and David Nalbandian, who pulled out when the draw was made (Florent Serra replaced him as a lucky loser). Nadal’s compatriots, Fernando Verdasco and Nicolas Almagro come back in action (they skipped all warm-up tournaments on hardcourts before the Open).
Milos Raonic  notched an important win in his bid for the Top 10 position. The Canadian beat Santiago Giraldo three times to ‘4’ at the last Wimbledon, and tended to take another routine victory over the Colombian. In the 2nd set he held all his service games comfortably until 4:5 when leading 30/15 missed five straight serves! Giraldo risked return on set point and the ball touched the baseline – Raonic lost his service self-confidence then. He was broken in the 3rd set as well as at the beginning of the 4th… 1:3 (30-all) and second serve – Raonic delivered an ace (30 in total), and the things turned in his favor. Giraldo in my opinion is the least reliable player in tight situations among regular ATP players. Serving to stay in the match at 4:5 in the 5th set he made a winner to get to 30-all which was followed up with two pathetic forehand errors just after Raonic’s soft returns. The Canadian prevailed 6-3 4-6 3-6 6-4 6-4 – his first five-set win at major. Guilermo Garcia-Lopez  was close to make the most amazing comeback of the season as he faced Juan Monaco in Stuttgart last July. GGL came back from a 0:5 deficit in the final set then, but lost 5-7 anyway. What he hadn’t been able to produce in the “best of three” match, he managed to make in the “best of five” encounter. Their first round match at the US Open had three different phases underlined by different lights above the Grandstand. First, under a sunny sky Monaco was doing on court everything perfectly, and after winning two sets easily, led 4:1* in the 3rd. More or less at the time floodlights were activated. GGL found his rhythm, and leveled up at two sets apiece being two points away to lose in four sets. He led with a break twice in the 5th set when some physical problems pestered him. It was a time of the sunset. Monaco came back from 3:5 (deuce) to hold two mini-match points at 5-all – GGL fought it off with good first serves, one of the points was replayed after unfortunate outcome for the Argentine (his good ball was called ‘out’). In the final tie-break, the slightly hobbling Garcia-Lopez went for his shots, he simply did something Monaco has big problems with, namely took the risk when the pressure was higher and it paid dividends.
Generally speaking the first three days were marked by stunning comebacks from two-sets-to-love. Beside Garcia-Lopez also Alexandr Dolgopolov, Philipp Petzschner, Paul Henri Mathieu, Marin Cilic, Janko Tipsarevic, Ernests Gulbis, Fabio Fognini and Gilles Muller survived 5-set battles losing the first two sets. Dolgopolov was already 0:4 down in the 3rd set against Jesse Levine when woke up winning 18 out the next 21 games! Mathieu saved two match points at *5:6 in the 4th set against Igor Andreev . It’s amazing how Andreev from a strong mentally player turned into an extreme choker (it happened in 2006 when he suffered left knee injury). Gulbis was *1:3 in the 3rd set against an in-form Tommy Haas, saved a mini-match point at 4:4 in the 4th with a backhand dropshot. The decisive moment of that match (3-6 4-6 6-4 7-5 6-3) came at 3:3 (0/15) on Gulbis’ serve. Haas won an entertaining rally, perhaps the best rally of the match with a passing-shot on the run. Unfortunately it cost him cramp in the right leg, and slightly limping he couldn’t win a game to the end. “Mindset is that you don’t care anymore,” said Gulbis , who struck 70 winners. “You’re two sets down, you’re a break down. You simply don’t care. Then magic happens suddenly. You win a break back, you win a set and you’re back in the match.” Yet the most incredible from 2-sets-to-0 deficit victory scored Gilles Muller , who was close to lose each of his three sets won against Mikhail Youzhny. Muller saved a mini-match point at 5-all in the 3rd set, trailed 3:5 in both tie-breaks and saved on serve a match point at 5:6 in the first tie-break and another one at 5:6 in games in the deciding set!! It’s barely the fourth case in the Open era that a player wins a match at the US Open winning three consecutive sets in a five-setter with ‘seven’ ahead of each set, Muller has won 2 of them! # The first round didn’t disappoint local fans – the best Americans won their matches with a relative easy, two completely unknown Yankees notched first wins at the main level: 18-year-old Dennis Novikov  & four years older left-handed Bradley Klahn . The latter, using powerful top-spin on his forehand, upset a declining Jurgen Melzer in almost 4-hour duel.
Longest match:4 hours, 31 minutes. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez d. Juan Monaco 3-6, 1-6, 6-4, 7-6(6), 7-6(3) Most aces:32 – Ivo Karlovic, lost to Jimmy Wang in four sets
20-19 Tommy Haas, 17-11 Mikhail Youzhny, 15-7 Janko Tipsarevic, 15-15 Jurgen Melzer, 13-6 Marin Cilic, 11-6 Marcos Baghdatis, 9-6 Gilles Simon, 9-10 Paul-Henri Mathieu, 8-7 Philipp Petzschner, 8-2 Gilles Muller, 7-5 Fabio Fognini, 7-3 Alexandr Dolgopolov, 6-3 Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, 6-10 Igor Andreev, 4-7 Juan Monaco, 3-5 Ernests Gulbis, 3-6 Nicolas Mahut, 2-1 Milos Raonic, 2-4 Teymuraz Gabashvili, Michael Russell & Edouard Roger-Vasselin, 1-4 Bobby Reynolds, 1-4 Jesse Levine, 1-6 Santiago Giraldo, 1-0 Tim Smyczek, Rogerio Dutra Silva & Bradley Klahn, 1-1 Guillaume Rufin, 0-2 Marinko Matosevic
# 5-setters at the US Open with 3 straight tight sets won by one player:
1979: John Lloyd d. Paul McNamee 5-7, 6-7, 7-5, 7-6, 7-6 1983: Johan Kriek d. Roscoe Tanner 6-7(5), 3-6, 7-6(4), 7-6(3), 7-6(2) 2008: Gilles Muller d. Nicolas Almagro 6-7(3), 3-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(6), 7-5 2012: Gilles Muller d. Mikhail Youzhny 2-6, 3-6, 7-5, 7-6(6), 7-6(6)