Serena Williams put together her best performance of this restart easing past Kristie Ahn 7-5, 6-3 Tuesday at the US Open. The 23-time Grand Slam winner overcame early breaks in both sets and used 13 aces from her serve to overwhelm her countrywoman for her first straight set win since January.
“It was just getting the rhythm in the early part of the match,” Serena said. “First round is always tough for me. I think Kristie, she really strikes the ball really hard. She mixes up a lot. She plays a lot of the different shots. You don’t really know what to expect.
“I really thought her game was really, really, really good to the point where I had to make sure. I was down a break at one point, so I was really fighting for everything.”
Serena will next face Margarita Gasparyan likely Thursday night in New York.
While Serena was up, Venus was down.
The 40-year-old Venus fell apart at the end of her match against Karolina Muchova, dropping the last three games of the second set to lose 6-3, 7-5. The defeat was Venus’s earliest ever at the US Open, which she was appearing at for a 22nd time.
Venus ended double faulting down match point, her 34th unforced error of the match.
“From the start, I wanted to be more relaxed and get into my game, but it was difficult because there were very short rallies,” Muchova said. “It was a very tough match, so I’m happy I turned it around in the end.”
Like Monday, many of the top seeds rolled. Australian Open finalist Garbine Muguruza dominated in her win over Nao Hibino 6-4, 6-4 under a closed Louis Armstrong roof.
Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin won her 8th straight Grand Slam match hammering former US Open semifinalist Yanina Wickmayer 6-2, 6-2.
“Of course, I think it’s a really good win, good boost for my confidence,” said the 21-year-old. “I played really well. I focused on my key elements of the game.”
One-time finalist Madison Keys crushed Timea Babos 6-1, 6-1 and Victora Azarenka kept on her good run upending Barbara Haas 6-1, 6-2. She’ll now face No. 5 seed Aryna Sabalenka in a good test for the recent Western and Southern champ.
“Honestly, I would be really excited to have that challenge,” Azarenka said looking ahead. “We had a really great match last year. It was really high quality. It didn’t go my way. I feel like this year it’s a great opportunity to kind of see where my level is at versus her level.
“It’s going to be a great challenge. She’s a great fighter. She’s been showing great tennis. I’m really looking forward if that’s going to be the matchup.”
Elise Mertens and Johanna Konta were also winners.
In the late night match, 3-time US Open champion Kim Clijsters return to Grand Slam play for the first time since 2012. But the comeback ended quickly. The 37-year-old got out to a hot start against No. 21 seed Ekatarina Alexandrova, crisply taking the first set. But the Hall of Famer couldn’t sustain that level. She had break chances late in the second but one missed, she faded in defeat 3-6, 7-5, 6-1.
The Czechs are back tomorrow with Petra Kvitova Karolina Pliskova plus former champions Angelique Kerber and Naomi Osaka plus rising talent Dayana Yastremska.
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