While five of the Top 10 seeds kicked off Day 1 of the US Open on the women’s side, it was the “next” generation of future stars that stole the show in Flushing Meadows.
British 19-year-old Heather Watson had Maria Sharapova on the ropes until the Russian regained her composure to win from a set and a break down 3-6, 7-5, 6-3.
“It’s just a matter of belief within myself, that no matter how well or bad or good I’m playing, or my opponent is playing, I know I can tough it out,” Sharapova said. “No matter what the situation is, I have the belief.”
American young guns coming through were Madison Keys, beating countrywoman Jill Craybas, and Christina McHale who topped Canadian qualifier Aleksandra Wozniak in three sets.
“This is my first time in the main draw here, and obviously it was a good first day,” the teenage Keys said. “It’s just been awesome. I’m really excited, and hopefully I have another good match Wednesday.”
McHale added to victories this summer over world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki and former US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Other Top 10-seeded winners on the day joining Sharapova were No. 2 Vera Zvonareva, No. 8 Marion Bartoli and No. 9 Samantha Stosur.
No. 5 seed and reigning Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova made a shock straight-set exit at the hands of Alexandra Dulgheru.
“This is something new for me,” said the shy 21-year-old Kvitova. “I’ve felt a little pressure.”
Unseeded Venus Williams was a winner in straight sets, beating Russian Vesna Dolonts, whose flight arrived from Moscow only four hours before her match, due to cancelled flights from Hurricane Irene.
“I just want to play tennis,” said Williams, who has seen little court time this year due to injury. “It doesn’t matter what the tournament is, I just want to play. Obviously the Open is huge, but I just want to play…I just need a chance to play. So the season hasn’t really even started yet for me. It’s been like a blip here and a blip there.”
Former NCAA star Irina Falconi was another American winner Monday, defeating Klara Zakopalova 3-6, 6-4, 6-2. Other Americans exiting Monday were Melanie Oudin and Bethanie Mattek-Sands.
Women’s highlights on Tuesday include (1) Caroline Wozniacki vs. Spaniard Nuria Llagostera Vives, Serb Bojana Jovanovski vs. (1) Serena Williams, (23) Shahar Peer vs. Indian princess Sania Mirza, Iveta Benesova a tough draw for (29) Jarmila Gajdosova, (26) Flavia Pennetta vs. Aravane Rezai, and Canuck Rebecca Marino vs. Argentine veteran Gisela Dulko.
TENNIS-X NEWS, NOTES, QUOTES AND BARBS
AMERICAN TENNIS DEATH WATCH — More men players from Ireland (2) and Canada (2) made it through the US Open qualifying than Americans (1)…Lleyton Hewitt is out of the US Open with a foot injury…From SI.com’s Jon Wertheim on Serena attending the Kim Kardashian wedding after pulling out of Cincinnati citing a toe injury: “I got a message from a well-placed source the weekend before last suggesting that after reaching the Toronto final, there was no way Serena would stick around for the Cincinnati event, especially with her being invited to Kim Kardashian’s wedding last weekend. I thought this was a joke. Then on Monday, Patrick (and others) noted that Serena apparently claimed that she was too tired to hit balls into the Cincinnati stands after winning her first match. On Wednesday, after riding a roller coaster at the nearby amusement park, Serena abruptly pulled out of the tournament on account of a toe injury. Hmmm.”…Robert Kendrick had his one-year suspension for taking a banned stimulant reduced to eight months after an appeal before the Court of Arbitration of Sport, the International Tennis Federation said. The 31-year-old, who tested positive for the stimulant methylhexaneamine during the French Open in May, can resume play in January 2012.
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