Tennis

Sharapova, Venus winners in opening round of US Open

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The Sports Network
8/25/2014 8:52:00 PM
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Flushing Meadows, NY  - Former champions Maria Sharapova and Venus Williams were among the first-round winners Monday at the U.S. Open.

Second-seeded Simona Halep and fourth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska also advanced on the first day of play at the year's fourth Grand Slam, as did former world No. 1 and U.S. Open runner-up Caroline Wozniacki.

There wasn't much drama in the women's draw Monday, as only one seeded player was beaten, although Sharapova was down a break early to start the night session at Ashe Stadium against fellow Russian Maria Kirilenko.

The 2006 U.S. Open champ trailed 2-4 in the opening set, then ripped off 10 straight games to complete the 6-4, 6-0 triumph. Sharapova, seeded fifth this year, missed the 2013 U.S. Open with a shoulder injury and hasn't been to the final at Flushing Meadows since capturing the title eight years ago.

"I was happy I was able to step it up and play well," said Sharapova, who improved to 17-0 in night matches at the U.S. Open.

Sharapova won the French Open this spring for her fifth career Grand Slam title and suffered a fourth-round exit at Wimbledon. She was a third-round loser at the Rogers Cup and fell to Ana Ivanovic in the semifinals at Cincinnati in her two U.S. Open tune-up events.

Williams rallied for a 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 win over 43-year-old Japanese veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm. The 34-year-old American claimed two of her seven Grand Slam titles at the U.S. Open, winning it all in 2000 and 2001 while also finishing as the runner-up in 1997 and 2002. She has, however, lost in the second round in each of her last three trips to Flushing Meadows.

"Not the ideal start, but she's a tricky player," said Williams. "I think she started coming up with some really good shots off my serve. She just goes for runs, and I give her a lot of credit for winning the first set and really making it extremely challenging."

Halep, the French Open runner-up, came from behind to beat 20-year-old NCAA champion Danielle Rose Collins of the United States, 6-7 (2-7), 6-1, 6-2. The Romanian has never advanced past the fourth round at the U.S. Open.

"There's a lot of pressure on me. Everyone is telling me that I have chances to win," said Halep, who will next play Slovakia's Jana Cepelova.

Radwanska, the former Wimbledon runner-up from Poland, pasted helpless Canadian Sharon Fichman, 6-1, 6-0, in a mere 47 minutes. She'll next face China's Peng Shuai.

The 10th-seeded Wozniacki had her hands full on Monday and held a 6-1, 3-6, 2-0 advantage against Magdalena Rybarikova when the Slovak had to call it quits because of a right thigh injury.

"It's unfortunate that she had to retire," said Wozniacki, the 2009 U.S. Open runner-up. "It would've been a good finish, especially for the crowd."

Meanwhile, sixth-seeded German left-hander Angelique Kerber snuck past Russian Ksenia Pervak, 6-2, 3-6, 7-5, and ninth-seeded former top-ranked star Jelena Jankovic subdued fellow Serb Bojana Jovanovski, 6-2, 6-3. Jankovic was a U.S. Open runner-up back in 2008.

In other action involving seeds, No. 13 Sara Errani of Italy claimed a 6-1, 7-5 triumph over Belgian Kirsten Flipkens; No. 14 Czech Lucie Safarova handled Hungarian Timea Babos, 6-4, 7-5; No. 18 German Andrea Petkovic got past Tunisian Ons Jabeur, 7-6 (9-7), 1-6, 6-3; No. 21 American Sloane Stephens grounded German Annika Beck, 6-0, 6-3; No. 22 Alize Cornet leveled fellow Frenchwoman Amandine Hesse, 6-1, 6-2; No. 26 Sabine Lisicki of German beat Canadian qualifier Francoise Abanda, 6-3, 7-5; No. 28 Roberta Vinci of Italy dismantled Argentine Paula Ormaechea, 6-3, 6-3; and No. 31 Japanese Kurumi Nara drilled Canadian Aleksandra Wozniak, 6-2, 6-1.

Only Spain's Garbine Muguruza was a beaten seed on Monday. Croatian qualifier Mirjana Lucic-Baroni pulled off the minor upset with a 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) win.

Several other women reached the second round, including Puerto Rico's Monica Puig, Israeli Shahar Peer, Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova and Slovakian veteran Daniela Hantuchova.

Five-time titlist Serena Williams is the two-time reigning champion, having beaten former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka in the last two finals. Serena will open defense of her titles against fellow American Taylor Townsend on Tuesday.

Maria Sharapova (Photo: Canadian Press)

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(Photo: Canadian Press)
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