New York, Aug 29 (AP/UNB) — His cheeks red, hair matted with sweat, Novak Djokovic appeared to be in such distress as he trudged to a changeover on a steamy U.S. Open afternoon that someone suggested it would be a good idea to have a trash can at the ready, just in case he lost his lunch.
Djokovic sat down and removed his shirt. He guzzled water from a plastic bottle. He placed one cold towel around his neck, a second across his lap and a third between his bare upper back and the seat.
He was not even 1½ hours into his first match at Flushing Meadows in two years, and while Djokovic eventually would get past Marton Fucsovics 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-0 Tuesday, it was a bit of an ordeal.
"Survival mode," Djokovic called it.
With the temperature topping 95 degrees (33 Celsius) and the humidity approaching 50 percent — and that combination making it feel more like 105 (40 C) — nearly everything became a struggle for every player across the grounds on Day 2 of the U.S. Open, so much so that no fewer than six quit their matches, with five citing cramps or heat exhaustion.
About 2 hours into the day's schedule, the U.S. Tennis Association decided to do something it never had at this tournament: offer men the chance to take a 10-minute break before the fourth set if a match went that far. That is similar to the existing rule for women, which allows for 10 minutes of rest before a third set when there is excessive heat.
The whole thing raised several questions: Should the genders have the same rules moving forward? Should the U.S. Open avoid having matches during the hottest part of the day, not just for the players' sake but also to help spectators? Should the men play best-of-three-set matches at majors, instead of best-of-five? Should the 25-second serve clock, making its Grand Slam debut here, be shut off to let players have more time to recover between points?
"At the end of the day, the ATP or a lot of the supervisors, they're kind of sitting in their offices, where (there's) an A.C. system on, where it's cool. And we have to be out there. They tell us it's fine; they're not the ones playing," said No. 4 seed Alexander Zverev, who won in straight sets in the early evening, when it was far less harsh. "For sure, the rule should be more strict. There should be a certain temperature, certain conditions where we shouldn't be playing."
How bad was it out there at its worst Tuesday?
"Bloody hot," said two-time major semifinalist Johanna Konta, who lost 6-2, 6-2 to No. 6 Caroline Garcia.
"Brutal," said 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic, who advanced when his opponent retired in the third set.
"Really not easy," said three-time Grand Slam title winner Angelique Kerber, who defeated Margarita Gasparyan 7-6 (5), 6-3.
"Terrible. It's awful out there," said Tennys Sandgren, an American who won in straight sets and will face Djokovic in the second round. "I don't know how guys are hanging in there. I was thinking in the third set, like, 'It's getting really bad. I just don't know how long I have to play out there.' And I think everybody kind of feels similarly."
Djokovic certainly did.
"Everything is boiling — in your body, the brain, everything," said Djokovic, who's won two of his 13 Grand Slam titles in New York but sat out last year's U.S. Open because of an injured right elbow.
He is a popular pick to hoist the trophy again, coming off a Wimbledon title in July and a victory over Roger Federer in the final of the hard-court Cincinnati Masters in August. Federer was among those lucky enough to play a night match Tuesday, beating Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan 6-2, 6-2, 6-4. Federer's third-round opponent could be the entertaining, if mercurial, Nick Kyrgios, the 30th-seeded Australian who had 25 aces and 14 double-faults while defeating Radu Albot 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, 6-2.
In the last match on Ashe, 2017 runner-up Madison Keys advanced with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over 71st-ranked Pauline Parmentier of France. The final match of Day 2 was in Louis Armstrong Stadium, where five-time major champion Maria Sharapova got past 39-year-old Patty Schnyder 6-2, 7-6 (6). Schnyder, who retired in 2011 but is now back on tour, was the oldest woman to qualify for a Grand Slam tournament.
Djokovic was appreciative of the chance for a chance to recover a bit after the third set. He even took about a minute for a quick ice bath — as did Fucsovics, nearby.
"Naked in the ice baths, next to each other," Djokovic said. "It was quite a magnificent feeling, I must say."
Because action began at 11 a.m., and the USTA implemented the heat rule for men at about 1 p.m., those playing in the earliest matches weren't able to get that sort of relief.
That included Italy's Stefano Travaglia, who quit in the fourth set of his match after feeling dizzy and cramps. Afterward, he said, he could barely walk.
"My head was spinning. ... I didn't have any energy. I saw four balls when I swung. It was a terrible feeling. I couldn't stay on court," he said. "There was no sense in continuing. Things probably would have gotten worse. I probably would have hurt myself."
Travaglia also thought it wasn't fair that the USTA's decision to offer the 10-minute breaks came too late for him.
"We all should play with the same rules in this sport. Unfortunately, they don't ask (players) anything, and they decide," he said. "If they're going to have a break, they need to say so in the morning, before matches begin — not after I almost was going to pass out because my blood pressure was so low."
London, Aug 29 (AP/UNB) — Saido Berahino, once one of the hottest young strikers in English soccer, ended a 2 1/2-year goal drought Tuesday to help second-tier Stoke into the third round of the English League Cup at the expense of Premier League club Huddersfield.
The 25-year-old Berahino scored the opening goal in a 2-0 win as he tries to revive a career that stalled over the last couple of seasons.
He was called up for England in 2014 after showing prolific form for West Bromwich Albion, marking a remarkable rise for someone who fled war-torn Burundi at age 10 after learning to play football by using makeshift balls made from plastic bags and rolled-up socks.
But he quickly lost his way, was sold to Stoke and rarely featured as the team was relegated from the Premier League.
Huddersfield, which has collected just one point from its opening three league games, ended up exiting the competition in farcical fashion with Juninho Bacuna scoring an own-goal from about 40 yards (meters) out after volleying the ball over his own goalkeeper.
Brighton lost 1-0 to fellow Premier League team Southampton, while Cardiff was another top-flight team to go out after losing 3-1 at home to Norwich.
West Ham picked up its first win under new manager Manuel Pellegrini, beating 10-man AFC Wimbledon 3-1 after falling behind. Leicester was the biggest winner of the night by thrashing third-tier Fleetwood 4-0, and Bournemouth eased to a 3-0 victory over fourth-tier MK Dons to continue its impressive start to the season after collecting seven points from a possible nine in the Premier League.
Wolverhampton Wanderers, Crystal Palace and Fulham also beat lower-league opposition to advance.
New York, Aug 28 (AP/UNB) — Serena Williams was disappointed she didn't get to say goodbye to her daughter before heading to Flushing Meadows to play in the U.S. Open for the first time in two years Monday night.
So after needing just 70 minutes to put together a 6-4, 6-0 victory over 68th-ranked Magda Linette of Poland under the lights at Arthur Ashe Stadium, Williams was excited to go make amends.
Williams told the crowd in her on-court interview afterward that it "kind of broke my spirit" to not have a proper farewell with Olympia, who turns 1 on Saturday.
"But I got through it," Williams said, "and I get to go back and see her."
The six-time champion at the U.S. Open missed it last year because she gave birth during the tournament.
The American, who turns 37 in September, did not seem to miss a beat. She hit six aces, won all eight of her service games and compiled a 23-9 edge in winners.
"It's such a good feeling to be back out here," said Williams, who improved to 18-0 in first-round matches at Flushing Meadows and 68-1 in openers at all Slams. "The first set was tight. It was my first back here in New York, so that wasn't the easiest. Once I got settled, I started doing what I'm trying to do in practice."
Williams came into this week in what amounts to a real slump for her, with losses in three of her past four matches. Then again, one of those setbacks came in the Wimbledon final against Angelique Kerber.
Still, she is not accustomed to those sorts of stretches.
This is only her seventh tournament this season as she bids for her 24th Grand Slam title.
"I think I'm getting there," Williams said. "I've been feeling really good in practice and I'm training so hard."
Looked that way as she finished off Linette with a 114 mph ace, then smiled ever so slightly while shaking a clenched fist as she walked up to the net.
She is seeded 17th and moved into a second-round meeting against 101st-ranked Carina Witthoeft of Germany. Win that, and Williams could face a very familiar foe in the third round: her older sister, Venus, a two-time U.S. Open champion who is seeded No. 16 and edged 2004 champ Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 Monday.
It would be the earliest matchup for the Williams siblings at a Grand Slam tournament in two decades: Their very first all-in-the-family showdown came in the second round of the 1998 Australian Open.
"Hopefully," Venus said, "we'll both be there."
New York, Aug 28 (AP/UNB) — Andy Murray pumped his fist and then did it again, exulting as if he had just won his match.
Actually, he was still one point away. But considering all the pain Murray has experienced in his hip, sprinting toward the net to chase down a drop volley and put it away was something to celebrate.
Murray and Stan Wawrinka, a pair of former U.S. Open champions, both were winners Monday in their return to the tournament after having to miss it last year.
Wawrinka ousted No. 8 seed Grigor Dimitrov 6-3, 6-2, 7-5, while Murray eliminated James Duckworth 6-7 (5), 6-3, 7-5, 6-3.
Both felt good physically, though not quite as good about their chances of contending for the title.
Murray hadn't played in a Grand Slam tournament since Wimbledon last year, before needing hip surgery that has limited him to just eight matches this year. He said before the weekend it wasn't realistic to think he could win this U.S. Open, and the 2012 champion was asked after the match what would have needed to happen for him to change his tune.
"I would have been able to train and practice a lot more than what I have done. I would have played more matches in the buildup to the tournament. I mean, there's many, many things that I would have wanted to change to be considered a contender," he said.
"I don't think anything changes after today. I think I'm still just taking it one match at a time. Yeah, I mean, this is the first time I have played four sets in 14 months, so, you know, I just have to wait and see how I pull up tomorrow."
Wawrinka has a little more reason for hope. The 2016 champion couldn't defend his title last year and needed two left knee surgeries, but has had some good results this summer. He also eliminated Dimitrov in the first round at Wimbledon, won a couple matches in Toronto before falling to top-ranked Rafael Nadal, and took Roger Federer to three sets in the quarterfinals in Cincinnati.
"I think if you look the last few months, if I separate just my level, just the way I'm playing, the way I'm moving like in practice match or in a match, yeah, for sure my level is really high," Wawrinka said. "I know that, and I'm confident with that."
But the three-time Grand Slam champion acknowledged there were enough questions about his fitness to keep him from thinking too big. He received a wild card into the tournament from the U.S. Tennis Association after his ranking fell too low to qualify directly.
"This year is kind of a transition year," he said. "I want to really play well, win as much as I can, get better ranking, finish the year well."
Murray faces a possible third-round match with 2009 champion Juan Martin del Potro, who's ranked No. 3. He said he'll practice far less now than he used to at Grand Slams, so it's unclear how much better he could get by then. But he improved as Monday went on and hopes that continues.
"I made some quite good moves. Like the second to the last point of the match, I moved pretty quickly up to the drop volley and stuff and kind of maintained my serving speeds throughout the match, as well," he said. "So there was some good stuff, but I think I can get better."
Gosford, Aug 28 (AP/UNB) — Jamaica sprint star Usain Bolt will make his first appearance for A-League club the Central Coast Mariners in a pre-season match against a Central Coast amateur selection on Friday.
The eight-time Olympic champion is on trial with the Mariners, hoping to win a professional contract to play in the A-League in the season beginning in October. He has been training on the left wing and expects to play about 15 to 20 minutes in that position during the match.
Club officials are predicting a crowd of 12,000 will attend the match in the Mariners' home town of Gosford, near Sydney, and Bolt, at home on a much larger stage, expected to be nervous in his debut.
"There definitely will be nerves, it's not like it's a charity game anymore," Bolt said. "I expect to make mistakes but I also expect to go out there, make myself proud and to push myself.
"I know I'm not going to have a perfect game."
Bolt had his first full training session with the Mariners on Tuesday after taking time to ease into his new role during his first week with the club. He appeared at times to struggle with the pace and demands of training.
"I think the thing he's struggling with more than anything else right now is getting used to the football fitness," Mariners coach Mike Mulvey said. He said in terms of skills Bolt is "doing okay."
"He's got rudimentary skills, there's no problem about that. It's about being able to do it at the speed that we do it."
Bolt said he found the nature of football training different and demanding but felt he had made some improvement in his first week.
"For me, it's the stop and go's, the tick-tacks. Because I'm not used to picking up speed, going back down, up and down, up and down, back and forth, that's the most challenging," he said. "The season doesn't start until the end of October so I have time."
He felt he isn't far from full fitness.
"It's just time," he said. "I don't know how my body is going to feel. I know when I'm on the field, I'm always going to push myself."