Serena Williams was warmly received by New York fans after winning in her return to the U.S. Open, where she joined defending champion Rafael Nadal and top seeds Novak Djokovic and Caroline Wozniacki in the second round.
Williams, a three-time champion, breezed past 19-year-old Bojana Jovanovski of Serbia 6-1, 6-1 in 56 minutes in the last of yesterday’s 61 singles matches at the National Tennis Center.
It was Williams’s first appearance at the year’s final Grand Slam tennis tournament since 2009, when she berated a lineswoman and was fined $175,000 after her semifinal loss ended with a foot fault. Williams is seeded 28th this year after being slowed by injuries the past two seasons.
“I’m always nervous in the first round,” Williams said in a televised interview afterwards. “I was a little tight. I could have played better.”
Nadal, the men’s No. 2 seed from Spain, had more of a challenge as he began his title defense with a 6-3, 7-6 (7-1), 7-5 win over Andrey Golubev of Kazakhstan.
The match lasted 2 hours, 49 minutes and Nadal had to rally to win the final two sets against the 98th-ranked Golubev, who has a 6-25 record in singles this season. Nadal is seeking his 11th career Grand Slam title, which would tie him with Rod Laver and Bjorn Borg for fourth most behind Roger Federer (16), Pete Sampras (14) and Roy Emerson (12).
Top Seeds Advance
Djokovic of Serbia won yesterday when Irish qualifier Conor Niland quit because of fatigue from food poisoning while trailing 6-0, 5-1. Wozniacki of Denmark beat Nuria Llagostera Vives of Spain 6-3, 6-1 on day two.
Andy Roddick, whose lone Grand Slam title came at the 2003 U.S. Open, begins his tournament run today against fellow American Michael Russell. Roddick, seeded 21st, plays the first match of the night session at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Maria Sharapova, the women’s No. 3 seed from Russia, plays the second night match against Anastasiya Yakimova of Belarus. John Isner of the U.S., the men’s 28th seed, also plays at night in Louis Armstrong Stadium against Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus.
Fourth-seeded Andy Murray of Britain, Venus Williams of the U.S. and women’s No. 2 seed Vera Zvonareva of Russia are among those playing during the day. Williams, a two-time U.S. Open winner, faces 22nd-seeded Sabine Lisicki of Germany in her second-round match. Lisicki beat Ukraine’s Alona Bondarenko in straight sets yesterday.
Serena Williams, who won U.S. Open titles in 1999, 2002 and 2008, will play Michaella Krajicek of the Netherlands for a place in the third round.
While Williams improved to 45-0 in first-round matches at tennis’s four major tournaments, French Open champion Li Na was eliminated with a 6-2, 7-5 loss to Simona Halep of Romania.
The sixth seed’s exit leaves the tournament with no current women’s Grand Slam champion.
Kim Clijsters of Belgium, the Australian Open and reigning U.S. Open champion, withdrew Aug. 19 because of a strained stomach muscle. Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic lost her first-round match two days ago.
“I really want to do well after Roland Garros, but it’s not easy,” Li said at a news conference. “Now I even lose all the confidence on the court.”
Djokovic spent only 44 minutes on the court in improving to 58-2 this season and said he wasn’t troubled by the shoulder pain that bothered him while competing at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati this month.
“I didn’t feel any pain,” he said. “I served well and I played well, so I have no concern.”
Djokovic is trying to become the sixth man to win three Grand Slam titles in the same year after topping Murray in the Australian Open final and Nadal to win Wimbledon. He’ll face Carlos Berlocq of Argentina in the second round.
Wozniacki, the 2009 U.S. Open runner-up, faced one break point in her win yesterday, advancing to a second-round meeting with Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands.
“The first match is tough to indicate anything, but I’m happy to be through,” said Wozniacki, in her 46th week as the No. 1-ranked player in the world.
No. 4 seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus won in straight sets yesterday, as did No. 11 seed Jelena Jankovic of Serbia.
No. 7 Francesca Schiavone of Italy, 10th-seeded Andrea Petkovic of Germany, No. 15 Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia, No. 16 Ana Ivanovic of Serbia, No. 20 Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium, No. 23 Shahar Peer of Israel and No. 26 Flavia Pennetta of Italy also reached the second round.
Men’s No. 5 seed David Ferrer of Spain ousted Russia’s Igor Andreev after losing the first set, while Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the 11th seed from France, also advanced. Latvia’s Ernests Gulbis upset No. 16 seed Mikhail Youzhny of Russia.
Tsonga will next play Sergei Bubka, a Ukrainian qualifier who is the son of the former Olympic gold medal pole vaulter of the same name.