US Open: Venus Williams, Andy Murray both struggle but win

Venus Williams. (USATSI)
Venus Williams survived the opening round on Monday. (USATSI)

Two-time US Open champion Venus Williams advanced but her opening round opponent, Kimiko Date-Krumm, gave her everything she could handle. 

Date-Krumm took the first set 6-2 before Williams responded with a second-set, 6-3 victory. Up 5-0 in the third, it looked as if the 34-year-old Williams would cruise into the second round, but Date-Krumm, 43, wouldn't concede defeat. She reeled off three straight games, breaking Venus twice, before nearly battling back to 5-4. Williams, though, held serve in the ninth game to advance much to her relief. 

Aside from the heat and opening match jitters, both players had to navigate a pesky bee, which at times interfered with their serves. At one point during the second set, Date-Krumm called out three tournament organizers to swat the bee and get it away from her.

The bee later found her way over to Venus.

"The bee was a challenge but it was easily Kimiko," Williams said, when asked which posed more of a threat. "She hits the ball like no one else on tour."   

Far from her best, Venus hit just 44 percent of her first serves in, while also hitting 36 unforced errors. Williams, the No. 19 seed, will face the winner of Kiki Bertens and Timea Bacsinszky. 

No. 8 Murray survives, too: 

Andy Murray beat Robin Haase 6-3, 7-6, 1-6, 7-5 but there was nothing clean about his opening-round win, either. He battled cramps and other nagging injuries to survive the Dutchman. 

Murray, up 2-1 heading into the fourth, was facing a 5-3 margin before storming back to seal the victory amid significant cramping. 

This more or less sums up Murray's afternoon:

The 2012 champion, Murray endured 16 aces (to his eight) from Haase and yielded 51 unforced errors. His net play, where he won 25 of 39 chances, was a huge factor in his win. He'll face Germany's Matthias Bachinger in the next round. 

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga cruises: 

Tsonga, the No. 9 seed, dispatched Juan Monaco in four sets on Monday afternoon, winning 6-3, 4-6, 7-6, 6-1. His blistering serves (his average first serve speed was 124 MPH) created 20 aces to just five for Monaco. 

Tsonga will face Aleksandr Nedovyesov in the second round. 

Wawrinka moves on: 

No. 3 Stan Wawrinka, the Australian Open champion, took the first step in winning another Grand Slam title as he dispatched Jiri Vesely in straight sets, 6-2, 7-6, 7-6 on Monday afternoon. 

Wawrinka won the first set in 25 minutes, but the match lasted almost two and a half hours after the second and third sets each went to tiebreak. He'll face Thomaz Bellucci in the second round. 

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