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Tennis | US Open

Women's wrap, Day 1 - Aug 28



Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza notched up her first ever victory on Arthur Ashe Stadium with a 6-0 6-3 win over American Varvara Lepchenko at the US Open on Monday.

Despite winning two grand slam titles, Muguruza has never felt at home at Flushing Meadows as she has never advanced past the third round here.

"I have been here so many times and I've never done very well," said the Spaniard.

"I give everything I have on the court.

"She started a little nervous and I started well. Then it got more equal and became a good fight."

Lepchenko struggled with her accuracy on the partly-cloudy morning, committing 22 unforced errors to Muguruza's 11.

The 23-year-old Muguruza was aggressive throughout, frequently coming to the net and using her powerful ground strokes to push Lepchenko into awkward court positions.

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Muguruza will next face either American Claire Liu or Duan Ying-ying of China.

SHARAPOVA SPARKLES ON RETURN

Maria Sharapova proved she will be someone to contend with for the US Open crown after the Russian wild card outlasted second seed Simona Halep 6-4 4-6 6-3, to get the year's final grand slam off to an electrifying start.

Still shaking off the rust from a 15-month doping ban and a string of nagging injuries, the 30-year-old Sharapova needed all her skill, determination and two hours and 44 minutes to snatch victory in front of a packed Arthur Ashe stadium.

The victory becomes the highlight of what has been a torturous comeback for the former world number one, who returned to tennis in April after being banned after testing positive for metabolic modulator meldonium at last year's Australian Open.

Her progress has been slowed by a thigh injury that forced her out of the Italian Open in May and more recently left arm issues in that took her out of the second round at Stanford earlier this month.

However, there was no hint of distress against an in-form Halep as she improved her record to 7-0 against the feisty Romanian in an opening round clash that was played with the intensity more befitting of a final.

VENUS CELEBRATES 20 YEARS WITH WIN

Venus Williams celebrated her 20th anniversary at the US Open on Monday as the tournament celebrated 20 years of Arthur Ashe Stadium, where she claimed two of her seven Grand Slam titles.

Williams was a 17-year-old upstart with beads in her hair when she rallied to defeat Latvia's Larisa Neiland 5-7, 6-0, 6-1 in the first round of the 1997 US Open in her Flushing Meadows debut on her way to her first Grand Slam final, which she lost to Martina Hingis.

"It has been 20 wonderful years," Williams told the crowd after a 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 first-round victory over Slovakian qualifier Viktoria Kuzmova.

"I'm not sure there are going to be 20 more."

Since Williams became the first unseeded US Open women's finalist since 1958, she has won the 2000 and 2001 US Opens and five Wimbledon crowns, including her most recent Slam title in 2008.

But this season, at age 37, Williams has turned back the clock, reaching the finals at Wimbledon and the Australia Open.

She lost to Spain's Garbine Muguruza on the All England grass and to her pregnant sister Serena at Melbourne last January.

She reached Arthur Ashe Stadium having played in two Grand Slam finals in a year for the first time since 2003, marveling at the largest venue in tennis from her airplane window.

"It's massive. When I was flying in, we flew right over it," Williams said.

"A certain excitement I get to play there. It's a privilege. It's an honor. I take it quite seriously. Everybody does."

Asked what her career timetable might be, the oldest woman in the US Open said, "I don't know. We'll see. I have no plans. Zero."

Well, she has one. With 23-time Grand Slam winner Serena giving birth in the next few weeks, Venus will become an aunt for the first time as an adult. It's one of the few adventures the sisters haven't been able to fully share in their careers.

"It's definitely a different experience, especially for she and I, because we spent our whole lives so focused on work," Venus said. "So when you have an experience that is not work, it's pretty intense. It's a completely different experience for both of us."

WOZNIACKI ROLLS THROUGH

Fifth seed Caroline Wozniacki capitalised on 41 unforced errors by Romanian Mihaela Buzarnescu to cruise to a 6-1 7-5 win in their first round meeting.

The 29-year-old Buzarnescu, who was playing in her first-grand slam match, was overwhelmed by the Dane's powerful baseline game in the first set.

She came out with more energy in the second and the two exchanged service breaks to get to 4-4.

However, the Romanian became frustrated as she struggled with accuracy and the lefty sent a two-handed backhand long to hand Wozniacki a trip to the second round.

"The first round is always difficult, you just want to get into the tournament," Wozniacki said in an on-court interview.

Wozniacki, who calls New York home, said being able to sleep in her own bed was an advantage for her at a tournament where she is a two-time finalist.

"It's awesome because we stay in hotels every week," she added. "My mom is here and she cooks so that's nice. It makes it very comfortable."

The win was the former world No 1's 100th grand slam match victory.

KVITOVA WEARS DOWN JANKOVIC

Twice Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova scraped into the second round by beating former world No 1 Jelena Jankovic of Serbia 7-5 7-5.

The Czech 13th seed, in search of top form after a mediocre build-up to the year's final grand slam, struggled to adapt to Jankovic's counter-punching style but eventually wore down the 2008 runner-up to set up a meeting with France's Alize Cornet.

Kvitova, who returned to competition inh May five months after being stabbed in her hand by an intruder at her home, won a first set that featured three breaks of serve as both players struggled to find their range in Louis Armstrong Stadium.

She rallied back from 2-0 down in the second set but dropped serve again in the seventh game. However, Kvitova regained her composure to win four consecutive games and secured the win on her first match point with a sizzling forehand winner down the line.

KONTA FALLS AS KRUNIC DELIVERS FIRST US OPEN SHOCK

Serbian Aleksandra Krunic produced the first shock of the US Open as she rallied past British seventh seed Johanna Konta 4-6 6-3 6-4 to advance to the second round.

After first round losses in her last two visits to Flushing Meadows, Krunic had looked poised for another early exit after Konta claimed a tight opening set.

But the 78th ranked Serb, who beat Petra Kvitova en route to reaching the last 16 in 2014, dug in to level the match.

In the decisive set it was Krunic who held her nerve as she finished off Konta on her second match point when the Briton sent her return long and wide.

"I feel amazing, happy the way I played the way I fought," said Krunic during her on court post-match interview." I had to be at my best from the first point.

"Today it was all about intensity. I am proud of myself, I was tactically able to do the things I had in my head."

It was a stunningly quick end for Wimbledon semifinalist Konta, who had been expected to be among the title contenders after reaching the fourth round here for the last two years.

Additional reporting by AFP



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