Israel’s Sela sent packing in first round

Blue-and-White No. 1 falls to Cuevas • Nadal takes down young Croat Coric • Halep moves on to second.

Israeli tennis star Dudi Sela (photo credit: ISRAEL TENNIS ASSOCIATION)
Israeli tennis star Dudi Sela
Israel’s one and only representative in the singles tournaments at the US Open was sent packing in the first day of action in New York on Monday, with Dudi Sela falling 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 to Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay.
Sela, ranked No. 104 in the world, was broken twice in the first set, but tied the match after holding his serve throughout the second set.
The Israeli’s failure to convert even one of his six break-point opportunities in the third set proved costly, with Cuevas (40) opening a crucial lead before racing ahead in the fourth set.
Sela, who reached the second round of the US Open in four of the previous five years, was Israel’s lone representative in the singles main draws after Amir Weintraub, Shahar Pe’er and Julia Glushko all lost in the qualifiers.
Following Sela’s exit, Yoni Erlich is the only remaining Israeli player in Flushing Meadows.
Erlich hasn’t played since reaching the Wimbledon semifinals with Philipp Petzschner almost two months ago after undergoing surgery to repair a meniscus tear in his knee.
Erlich will team up with New Zealand’s Artem Sitak in New York and they will face Italians Marco Cecchinato and Andreas Seppi on Wednesday in the first round.
Meanwhile, Rafa Nadal showed flashes of his top form under the lights at Arthur Ashe Stadium to beat young Croat Borna Coric 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 and close Day One at the US Open tennis championships on Monday.
The first two sets brought a vintage performance on a sultry night from Nadal, who has dropped to world number eight in what has been a lackluster season for the 29-yearold Spaniard.
Given his last chance to keep alive a 10-year streak of winning at least one grand slam title, 14-times major winner Nadal schooled the 18-year-old Coric over the first two sets.
But Coric responded with his best tennis and broke the Spaniard in the 10th game of the third set to send the match to a hard-fought fourth set.
The Spaniard finally prevailed thanks to a service break on a forehand service return winner in the seventh game.
“It’s a very happy moment for me,” said Nadal, returning to Flushing Meadows for the first time since his 2013 US Open triumph after missing last year with a wrist injury.
“Last year was very hard not having chance to being back in one of my favorite tournaments.”
Nadal avenged a 6-2, 7-6 loss to Coric last year at Basel in his only previous encounter with the up-and-coming Coric, who at number 33 is the youngest player in the world’s top-50.
“I think I played great. The first two sets I played a very high level of tennis,” said Nadal, who served brilliantly over the first two sets and in the fourth.
“Then I get a little bit tired. I was sweating a lot… He is a great player and has an amazing future.”
Yesterday, on Day Two, American Donald Young impressively came back from being two sets down to beat No. 11 Gilles Simon of France 2-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.
On the women’s side, Romanian second seed Simona Halep followed the same express path into the second round of the US Open as Serena Williams, advancing 6-2, 3-0 after New Zealand’s Marina Erakovic retired with a knee injury on Tuesday.
The in-form Halep, who reached the finals at US Open tune-up events in Toronto and Cincinnati, barely broke a sweat on a sunny Arthur Ashe Stadium court, needing a mere 47 minutes to see off the 99th ranked New Zealander.
Reuters contributed to this report.