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Busted Racquet

U.S. Open Day 1: Andy Murray battles cramps, Sloane Stephens cruises

Andy Murray, of the United Kingdom, returns a shot against Robin Haase, of the Netherlands, during the opening round of the 2014 U.S. Open tennis tournament, Monday, Aug. 25, 2014, in New York
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Andy Murray, of the United Kingdom, returns a shot against Robin Haase, of the Netherlands, during the opening round of the 2014 U.S. Open tennis tournament, Monday, Aug. 25, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

No one seems to know what to do while a tennis match is halted. On Monday night, two sets into a tight match between 10th-seed Caroline Wozniacki and Magdalena Rybarikova, two teen girls in fluorescent pink tank tops wandered around, popcorn buckets in hand, trying to find better seats. A middle-aged woman stood, craning her neck to see if anything was happening. “Can we still buy beer?” a 20-something guy asked.

It was 8:52 p.m. ET, Rybarikova had left the court, reportedly battling back pain. Earlier in the day, Andy Murray battled full body cramps. Players are struggling to deal with the heat. Though it is nowhere near the 100-degree days of past U.S. Opens, Monday’s temperatures hit the high 80s, much higher than they’ve been in recent weeks.

Tenth-seed Wozniacki had dominated the first set, winning 6-1, but Rybarikova battled to take the second set 6-3. The players returned to the court at 8:55, and within five minutes Wozniacki had taken the first two games of the set. Just after 9 p.m., Rybarikova approached the chair umpire. It was the end of the night, and the tournament, for the 25-year-old from Bratislava, Slovakia.

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Sloane Stephens returns a shot against Annika Beck. (AP)

Sloane Stephens returns a shot against Annika Beck. (AP)

“You know it was tough when it started. In the second set, she started playing better, but at the same time I started being more hesitant and thinking more about her,” Wozniacki said on the court after the match. “It’s unfortunate that she had to retire … but I’m happy to be through and hopefully it will be a better one next round.”

Elsewhere on Day 1, Americans Sloane Stephens and Madison Brengle each advanced in straight sets. Stephens, seeded 21, played better than she has all year.

“I knew I had to come out and play solid,” Stephens said in her news conference. “Got a little shaky at the end but I was happy I pulled through.”

Danielle Collins, who earned a wild card to play in the main draw by winning the NCAA singles championship as a sophomore this spring, took the first set against No. 2 seed Simona Halep, but eventually fell 6-7, 6-1, 6-2. Collins missed her first few days of classes at the University of Virginia to compete. She plans to finish her degree before turning pro.

The American men playing on day 1 are also out. Donald Young fell in straight sets to Blaz Kavcic of Slovenia, 7-5, 6-4, 6-4. Bradley Klahn faced Andrey Kuznetsov of Russia. For the fourth time this year, Klahn lost in the first round, 4-6, 6-4, 3-6, 5-7.

On Monday night, No. 5 Maria Sharapova made a triumphant return to the tournament after a shoulder injury sidelined her in 2013. The 2006 U.S. Open champion defeated Maria Kirilenko in straight sets under the lights of Arthur Ashe Stadium. Keeping the bracket in order, the Nos. 4-, 6-, and 9-seeded women also advanced today.

As No. 1 Novak Djokovic and Diego Schwartzman took the court for the final match of the night (and fans chanted “Hey Novak you’re so fine, you’re so fine you blow my mind”) the men’s side had also kept to the script. No. 3 Stan Wawrinka, No. 8 Murray, No. 5 Milos Raonic and No. 9 Jo-Wilfriend Tsonga had all advanced to the second round. Djokovic joined them with a 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 victory over Schwartzman.

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