| 15.2°C Dublin

Sorensen quest ended by cramp

The luck of the Irish has been all bad at the US Open after our second representative at Flushing Meadows was forced to retire during his first-round match yesterday.

Louk Sorensen, ranked 618th, appeared to get a good break when his scheduled opponent, sixth-seeded Robin Soderling of Sweden, withdrew because of illness.

Instead, Sorensen got to play 'lucky loser' Rogerio Dutra da Silva of Brazil.

But his good fortune ran out when he retired himself, when trailing 6-0 3-6 6-4 1-0, due to cramping.

On Tuesday, 197th-ranked Conor Niland quit his opening-round match against top-seeded Novak Djokovic of Serbia, fearing he would get sick on the court from a bad case of food poisoning.

Niland and Sorensen had both fought their way into the main draw as qualifiers, marking the first time two men from Ireland had made it into the same grand slam tournament since tennis turned professional in 1968.

Elsewhere, the event witnessed a major shock without a ball being struck in anger when Venus Williams quit the tournament after revealing she was suffering from an illness that could threaten her tennis future.

After a build-up to the last grand slam of the year, in which the event was threatened by an earthquake then a hurricane, the American's revelation was perhaps the most earth-shattering news of the week.

The two-time champion told officials of her withdrawal from the tournament less than an hour before she was due to face Germany's Sabine Lisicki in the second round.

Then, in a statement, she dropped the bombshell: "I have recently been diagnosed with Sjogren's Syndrome. (I) wish I could continue but right now I am unable to."

The disease drains victims of their energy and causes joint pain. For a professional tennis player, that spells trouble but Williams said she had no thoughts of retiring.

"I am thankful I finally have a diagnosis and am now focused on getting better and returning," she said.

Williams was not the only high-profile casualty at Flushing Meadows yesterday, but her illness did overshadow most of the on-court action.


Andy Murray, Britain's perennial major hope, made a bright start to his campaign, beating Somdev Devvarman of India 7-6 6-2 6-3, while Argentina's Juan Martin Del Potro enjoyed a successful return to New York, two years after his stunning title success, by thrashing Italy's Filippo Volandri 6-3 6-1 6-1.

The women's draw, already depleted by the absence of Kim Clijsters and the early defeats of Petra Kvitova and Li Na, saw three seeded women make early exits at the hands of lower-ranked players.

Marion Bartoli lost to American Christina McHale 7-6 6-2, Dominika Cibulkova was beaten by another American, Irina Falconi, 2-6 6-3 7-5 and Alla Kudryavtseva advanced after Yanina Wickmayer withdrew at 1-6 0-3 down, while the only male seed to lose was Nicolas Almagro of Spain.

Russia's Vera Zvonareva, last year's runner-up, was never in any real danger of joining the casualty list and she beat Ukraine's Kateryna Bondarenko 7-5 3-6 6-3.

Third seed Maria Sharapova concluded the day with a 6-1 6-1 thrashing of Anastasiya Yakimova of Belarus.