Serena Williams delivered a masterful performance in the opening round of the US Open, dropping just two games in a rout of Maria Sharapova.
Williams beat the Russian 6-1 6-1 in a mere 59 minutes to set up a second-round clash with fellow American Caty McNally, after the 17-year-old wildcard beat former top-10 player Timea Bacsinszky 6-4 6-1.
Serena advanced on Monday along with sister Venus, second seed Ash Barty, No.3 seed Karolina Pliskova and fifth seed Elina Svitolina. No.14 seed Angelique Kerber, the US Open champion in 2016, was a first-round casualty when she fell in three sets to Kristina Mladenovic.
Svitolina takes on Venus in what is among the best of the second-round offerings.
Serena’s victory was her 19th straight against Sharapova dating back to 2005, and improved her record against Sharapova to a staggering 20-2. This was their first ever meeting at Flushing Meadows.
|2007||Australian Open||F||Serena d Sharapova||61 62|
|2007||Miami Open||R4||Serena d Sharapova||61 61|
|2012||London Olympics||F||Serena d Sharapova||60 61|
|2019||US Open||R1||Serena d Sharapova||61 61|
In a blockbuster first-round match attended by a slew of celebrities, Serena was sharp and focused from the very first point, belting 16 winners to Sharapova’s six while keeping her unforced errors to 12, compared with Sharapova’s 20.
Sharapova, extraordinarily, ended the match with several “zero percenters” on the stats sheet; she was 0/10 on second serve points, finished 0/2 in points won at net, and was 0/5 on break points.
Maria Sharapova says she wants to play as much as she can through the end of the season but also has to balance against protecting her shoulder. Said after the Kontaveit match in Toronto, took a week or so for shoulder to feel right again.
— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) August 27, 2019
All of those break points came in the second set, the only resistance Serena faced during the match.
Yet from 15-40 down in the fourth game, and despite three times facing a break point in the sixth game, Serena elevated her game to snuff out Sharapova’s chances. She erased the second break point with a stunning backhand passing shot winner down the line.
“That was definitely a big point for me. She’s the kind of player that gets momentum and she starts going. I was really excited that I hit that winner,” she said.
“Every time I come up against her. I just bring out some of my best tennis.
“The body’s good. I feel good. My back’s a lot better. So I’m excited. This is going to be fun.”
Barty, meanwhile, breathed a big sigh of relief after surviving a scare and progressing to the second round.
Australia’s world No.2 had to pull out all the stops before battling past dogged Kazakh Zarina Diyas 1-6 6-3 6-2.
Barty used her trusty trademark serve to drag herself out of a deep hole and set up a date on Wednesday with unseeded American Lauren Davis.
“I just had to start with my serve,” the French Open champion said after finishing with eight aces in the three-set escape.
“I really wasn’t giving myself enough chances on serve. I don’t know what the percentage was in the first set … but it wasn’t good. (Had to) go back to the basics, start again and try to figure it out.”
Opening tournament proceedings on Arthur Ashe Stadium, Barty made a terrible start, falling behind 5-0 in 20 minutes after struggling to find her rhythm. After 19 unforced errors, she found herself down a set inside half an hour.
A furious Barty emerged a different player in the second set, bludgeoning a succession of winners to work her way back into the contest. It took her eight games, though, to break down Diyas, ranked 77th in the world.
But once she did Barty sealed the second set with a signature ace down the middle to get back on level terms.
“We are really pleased with the way we were able to solve this riddle today, figure it out and progress to the second round,” Barty said.
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