Serena dominant in opener
NEW YORK—Serena Williams was so dominant in the first round of the U.S. Open last night, her opponent really wanted a hug.
So midway through the second set of defending champion Williams’ 6-0, 6-1 victory, Francesca Schiavone wandered behind the baseline, found a ball boy, and enveloped him in a full-fledged embrace.
“I need a game.”
It was that kind of evening for Schiavone—an often-demonstrative player who certainly is no pushover. She won the 2010 French Open, was the runner-up at that Grand Slam tournament a year later, and twice has been a quarter-finalist at the U.S. Open.
She’s been ranked as high as No. 4 but is 54th this week.
“I knew playing a former Grand Slam champion in the first round was a really, really tough draw,” Williams said.
“So I tried to be super serious.”
All told, the match only took an hour. And it ended right in time, as far as Williams was concerned, because a light rain began to fall just at the conclusion in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Eventually, play was suspended for the day and the last scheduled match of the night session, 17-time major champion Roger Federer vs. 62nd-ranked Grega Zemlja of Slovenia, was postponed until today.
The No. 1-ranked and top-seeded Williams was nearly perfect—never facing a break point, making only eight unforced errors, compiling a 13-3 edge in winners, hitting serves faster than 115 m.p.h., and taking the first 10 games.
Schiavone didn’t help herself by hitting eight double-faults.
“It was tough today,” said Schiavone, who is working with Peter Lundgren, one of Federer’s former coaches.
“Really, really tough.”
When Schiavone finally got on the board more than 50 minutes into the match, holding serve to win her first game with a volley winner, she swung her right fist in a celebratory roundhouse punch and shouted.
Her face then broke into a wide smile while she strutted to the sideline, and she tossed her racket toward her changeover chair.
“It was very, very nice to win a game,” Schiavone said.
“For the first time in my life, I felt joy from winning a single game.”
Williams is seeking her fifth U.S. Open championship and 17th Grand Slam title overall.
She improved to 61-4 in 2013 and has won eight tournaments.
Earlier in the day, on the same court, Williams’ older sister, Venus, won her first-round match 6-1, 6-2 against 12th-seeded Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium.
Flipkens was the first seeded woman to lose at the year’s last Grand Slam.
Two seeded men also exited during yesterday’s afternoon session. No. 11 Kei Nishikori of Japan lost 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 to British qualifier Dan Evans while No. 27 Fernando Verdasco of Spain was beaten 6-3, 7-5, 1-6, 4-6, 6-3 by Ivan Dodig of Croatia.
Sloane Stephens, a 20-year-old American seeded 15th, very nearly joined the list of losers.
She dropped the opening set, then trailed 4-2 in the third and 3-1 in the closing tie-breaker, before coming back to edge 110th-ranked Mandy Minella of Luxembourg 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5).
Rafael Nadal, a 12-time major champion, opened his tournament with a straightforward, straight-set victory over 21-year-old American Ryan Harrison.
Meanwhile, Canadians Eugenie Bouchard and Frank Dancevic won opening matches within seconds of each other yesterday to advance into the second round of the U.S. Open.
Montreal’s Bouchard managed to find a way past Czech Karolina Pliskova 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 to win in her U.S. Open main draw debut.
Dancevic, a product of Niagara Falls, Ont., defeated Robin Haase of the Netherlands 7-6 (5), 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7).
It was Dancevic’s first victory in New York in four attempts after first-round losses in 2007, 2008, and 2011.
Rain ended Vasek Pospisil’s match against Brazilian qualifier Rogerio Dutra Silva early.
Pospisil missed on winning chances in the third set but left the court leading 6-4, 6-3, 6-7 (9), 0-4.