Serena Williams Follows Sister Venus Into U.S. Open Second Round

Djokovic Drops Two Games
Serbia's Novak Djokovic returns the ball during his 6-1, 6-0, 6-1 U.S. Open first-round win against Italy’s Paolo Lorenzi at the National Tennis Center in New York on Aug. 28, 2012. Photographer: EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/GettyImages

Serena Williams got a challenge from Coco Vandeweghe last month in the final of the Bank of the West Classic. Their rematch at the U.S. Open tennis championship was decidedly more one-sided.

Williams, a three-time U.S. Open women’s singles champion, needed 55 minutes to defeat Vandeweghe 6-1, 6-1 in windy conditions last night at the National Tennis Center in New York. The previous time the two Americans met, Williams fought her way to a 7-5, 6-3 victory in Stanford, California.

“When I played at the Bank of the West, she played so well, so I knew I had to come out really strong, really focused,” Williams said in a televised interview from Arthur Ashe Stadium. “That’s what helped me.”

Williams, a 14-time Grand Slam winner who turns 31 next month, is seeking to become the oldest U.S. Open winner since Margaret Court in 1973. She’s won three of her past four tournaments, including Wimbledon and an Olympic gold medal.

Williams’s older sister Venus, a two-time U.S. Open champion, took 62 minutes to win her opening match 6-3, 6-1 yesterday against another American, Bethanie Mattek-Sands.

Venus Williams, 32, who won a women’s doubles gold medal with Serena last month in London, has been fighting through an energy-sapping autoimmune disease that forced her to pull out of last year’s U.S. Open. It also contributed to her second-round loss at the French Open in May and a first-round exit at Wimbledon in June.

‘Full Circle’

“It’s very exciting to just come full circle to be back out here, winning matches, moving forward and getting better,” said Venus Williams, who next faces sixth-seeded Angelique Kerber of Germany, who won in straight sets yesterday.

Serena Williams’s victory capped a quick night session on the Arthur Ashe Stadium court, where defending men’s champion Novak Djokovic of Serbia cruised to a 6-1, 6-0, 6-1 defeat of Italy’s Paolo Lorenzi. American Andy Roddick, the 2003 U.S. Open winner, also advanced to the second round with a straight-sets victory yesterday.

Sloane Stephens, a 19-year-old American, pulled off one of the biggest upsets on Day 2 of the season’s final Grand Slam, defeating 22nd-seeded Francesca Schiavone of Italy 6-3, 6-4.

“I just believe in myself a lot more and know that whatever I put my mind to and focus on and really want to do, I do it,” said Stephens, a close friend of Serena Williams.

Eighth-seeded Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, who reached the semifinals the past three years, was slowed by a knee injury in a 6-2, 6-2 loss to Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu.

Wozniacki Slowed

“I definitely felt like I couldn’t hit through her and I couldn’t hit past her like I wanted to,” the 22-year-old Wozniacki said at a news conference. “When she had the opportunity, she went and finished off the point.”

Women’s top seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus returns to the court today with a second-round match against Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium. Russia’s Maria Sharapova, the women’s third seed and 2006 champion, faces Lourdes Dominguez Lino of Spain, while three-time champion and 23rd seed Kim Clijsters of Belgium puts her 22-match U.S. Open winning streak on the line against Laura Robson of Britain.

Defending women’s champion Samantha Stosur, the seventh seed from Australia, and No. 5 Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic are also scheduled to play second-round matches today.

Olympic gold medalist Andy Murray of Britain, the men’s No. 3 seed, plays a second-round match tonight against Ivan Dodig of Croatia in Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Isner’s Opener

American John Isner, who’s seeded ninth in the men’s draw, faces Xavier Malisse of Belgium in his opening-round match. Fourth-seeded David Ferrer of Spain and No. 7 Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina, the 2009 U.S. Open champion, will also play first-round matches today.

Agnieszka Radwanska, 23, the No. 2 women’s seed from Poland, reached the second round with a 6-1, 6-1 win yesterday against Nina Bratchikova, a 27-year-old Russian.

Others to advance in the women’s draw included 10th-seeded Sara Errani of Italy, No. 12 Ana Ivanovic of Serbia and No. 14 Maria Kirilenko of Russia. American Christina McHale, who was seeded 21st, was upset last night by Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands 4-6, 6-4, 3-6.

Men’s No. 5 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France and No. 6 Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic had straight-set wins yesterday, while 10th-seeded Juan Monaco of Argentina blew a two-set lead and was ousted by Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain 3-6, 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (7-3) in a match that lasted four hours and 31 minutes.

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