Garbiñe Muguruza and Venus Williams kicked off their USA Open campaign with opposed kinds of wins while Tathiana Maria upset Agnieszka Radwanska, projected to move outside the top 50, her lowest rank since 2007. In a battle of the old stagers Venus Williams defeated 6-3 5-7 6-3 2004 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Venus, the 2000 and 2001 titlist, who first reached the final in New York in 1997, needed five match points to finally outlast the Russian in a thrilling encounter. Venus, the oldest player in the draw, reached 20 appearances at the tournament – and 80 at all majors –, the most among active players, and joint second (with Amy Frazier) in the Open Era, after Martina Navratilova (21).
A five-time semifinalist, last year she became the oldest player to reach the last 4 in a Grand Slam since 1994, when she was one of four American women to reach this stage: that was the first time since 1981 four women from the USA had made the last four at the US Open (Austin, Navratilova, Evert, Potter), and across all Slams since 1985 Wimbledon (Evert, Navratilova, Rinaldi, Garrison).
Beating Kuznetsova, she completed the 265th win in a Grand Slam, second only to Serena’s (325-44) among active players, and places her fifth on the Open Era list, also behind Navratilova, Evert and Graf. In one of two first-round match-ups between major champions, Venus celebrated her 77th match win here at US Open, her 70th in a Grand Slam first-round encounter.
The Russian sealed an early break for a 3-1 lead but Venus saved three break points in two successive service games until she served out the opening set. The former world No.1 looked in control as she took a double break lead in the second before Kuznetsova clawed back into the match, saving two match points to level the match at a set apiece.
Venus opened the third, delayed by the heat rule, with another double break advantage. Kuznetsova saved two break points in a dramatic seventh game but she could only delay her defeat. Venus, who lost just 10 opening round matches in a major, leads 6-5 in her head to head against the Russian, and extended to 3-0 her unbeaten mark at Grand Slam level.
In both the previous occasions (2003 Australian Open and 2007 Wimbledon) she went on to reach the final. Up next, she will meet Italian hard-hitter Camila Giorgi, whom she beat in three sets in Melbourne earlier this year. Williams, the No.
16 seed and a semifinalist last year at Flushing Meadows, could play younger sister Serena in the third round. That would be their earliest Grand Slam matchup in 20 years. After the match, Williams told ESPN that her on-court preparation for the US Open wasn’t the best, Jeremy Bourden reported on the tournament's website.
But, she joked about the long match, “I got a lot more balls to hit, I’m hoping that will help.” The Spanish No.12 seed completed a 6-3 6-0 victory over World No.34 Zhang Shuai of China, to extend her 16-match win streak in first round Grand Slam encounters.
Making her sixth main draw appearance at Flushing Meadows, after posting her career-best result here last season, Muguruza has not lost a first-round match at a slam since 2014 US Open. The former world No.1 moved 2-1 up in the head to head record against Zhang with Muguruza winning the two most recent meetings.
Muguruza, who claimed the tenth win in 19 matches against players in the Top 40 this season, will face Czech qualifier Karolina Muchova who beat debutant Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine in straight sets. In her first match under part-time coach Conchita Martinez, Karolina Pliskova extended her nine-match win-streak in first round Grand Slam matches dating back to 2016 Roland Garros as she beat 6-4 7-6 Zarina Diyas, bidding for her third Top 10 win of her whole career.No.62 Diyas had won an average of just 1.75 games per set in the previous two clashes.
The Czech, in her sixth main draw appearance at Flushing Meadows (ninth overall), was a finalist in 2016 (l. Kerber in F) and a quarterfinalist when she last played here in 2017 (l. Vandeweghe). She offered a good to finish it in two sets against basic ballbasher Diyas and had to save set points in the second to avoid a decider.
Tatjana Maria produced an impressive performance to knock Agnieszka Radwanska 6-3 6-3. The German won five games in a row to build a decisive advantage in the opening set, then battled hard in the next to outlast her opponent.
Radwanska will move outside the Top 50, reaching her lowest rank since 2007. Maria will face Svitolina, the same player she upset at Wimbledon two months ago in the first-round. Ashleigh Barty opened her fourth main draw campaign at US Open (and fifth overall) with a first-round easy win over Ons Jabeur, bidding to improve her best result at Flushing Meadows, a third-round showing in 2017 (l.
eventual champion Stephens). The Australian completed her 12th straight victory with qualifiers, stretching back to a third-round defeat to Barthel at 2017 Australian Open. Barty claimed the sixth Grand Slam win of the season, the 11th in her last 14 matches on hardcourts.