Serena Williams looked every inch the title favourite as she powered past Francesca Schiavone in the first round of the US Open early this morning.
The 31-year-old has won eight titles already this season, including the French Open, and former Roland Garros champion Schiavone simply had no answer. She won just six points in the first set as Williams sent the ball flying to all corners of the court with immense power and precision.
For a long time it looked like Schiavone would not win a single game as Williams made it 10 games in a row.
She had a point for an eleventh, which would have left her serving for the match, but this time Schiavone held off her opponent and finally got on the board with a forehand volley.
But that was as good as it got for the Italian as Williams wrapped up a 6-0, 6-1 victory after exactly an hour when Schiavone put a forehand long. Next up for Williams is Kazakhstan’s Galina Voskoboeva.
Williams said drawing 2010 French Open winner Schiavone had focused her mind, which explained the one-sided scoreline.
“I was just out there trying to be focused,” she said. “When you see you have to go up against a former grand slam champion, it’s not very easy to see your name in a draw like that. You have to be very serious.”
It was a good day for the Williams family, with sister Venus earlier posting one of her best results of the year with a dominant victory over 12th seed Kirsten Flipkens.
Asked whether she was happier for her sister or herself, Serena said: “They’re equal. I was really excited to see Venus win. I know she’s been working hard, she had a tough opponent, so for her to come through was just awesome.”
Williams also claimed she was happy to have lost her last match before the tournament, a final defeat by Victoria Azarenka in Cincinnati last weekend, because it lifted a little of the pressure. “I’m happy because people are spreading the love,” she said. “It’s still a lot of expectation, but it’s a little more spread now. I feel good about that.”
Schiavone is never a player to hide her emotions and her growing frustration was evident. In the third game of the second set, she resorted to ugging a ball boy to relieve the tension. Asked what she thought when she saw the draw, Schiavone said: “Oh, s**t. But it’s normal. She has two legs, I have two legs. Two arms. We are the same. We are human. One has to win. She was much, much better than me.”
Roger Federer’s first-round match against Grega Zemlja fell foul of the New York weather. The five-time champion was scheduled to play in the second night match on Arthur Ashe but no sooner had Serena crushed Schiavone than the rain began to fall. A good number of fans stuck it out in the hope the match could start but at around 10.15pm local time play was officially called off for the night.
Federer and Zemlja will have to return this afternoon, with their match due to take place at 7.15pm BST, although with the first round here being played over three days, the winner should still have a day off before they have to play again.
Top men’s seed Novak Djokovic begins his US Open campaign tonight when he takes on Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis. Their match will open the night session on Arthur Ashe.
Big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic faces Italian qualifier Thomas Fabbiano, while two of America’s hopes in the men’s draw, John Isner and Sam Querrey, face Fillippo Volandri and Guido Pella respectively.
In the women’s draw, seventh seed Petra Kvitova and sixth seed Caroline Wozniacki are in action on Arthur Ashe.