Nadal, Serena begin US Open with a bang

Agence France-Presse
Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams chalk up easy wins as the 2013 US Open begins.

STREAK CONTINUES. Nadal went on with another stellar game. File photo by AFP.

NEW YORK CITY, United States — Rafael Nadal took his 2013 hardcourt record to 16-0 to reach the US Open second round on Monday, August 26 (Tuesday, August 27 in Manila) while Serena and Venus Williams also breezed through.

Nadal, the second-seeded 2010 champion who watched the 2012 US Open from his home in Spain as he endured a 7-month injury layoff, cruised to a 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 win over American wildcard Ryan Harrison.

The 27-year-old Spaniard has captured 9 trophies since his return from injury in February, building up a 54-3 record in the process, and he came into New York having won back-to-back Masters titles at Montreal and Cincinnati, comfortably erasing his shock first-round exit at Wimbledon.

“It’s a special emotion to be back in New York. It’s a special atmosphere,” said Nadal, who next tackles either Canada’s Vasek Pospisil or Brazilian qualifier Rogerio Dutra Silva.

“I was nervous before the start, but I hope to have these nerves again in the future if it means I win.”

Serena breaks no sweat

Defending women’s champion Serena Williams, a 4-time winner, needed just an hour to see off Italian veteran Francesca Schiavone, 6-0, 6-1.

The top seed fired 13 winners and broke the former French Open champion 6 times on her way to a second round match-up against Kazakhstan’s Galina Voskoboeva.

“I’m really excited,” Williams said. “I knew playing a former Grand Slam champion the first round was a tough draw so I just tried to be super serious.”

Venus Williams, the back-to-back champion in 2000 and 2001 and the oldest woman left in the draw at 33, started her 15th US Open with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Belgian 12th seed Kirsten Flipkens, a semi-finalist at Wimbledon.

Williams, now ranked 60 in the world, next faces China’s Zheng Jie after avenging a loss to Flipkens at Toronto earlier this month.

“It’s just good to be here, see familiar faces since my first time in 1997 with the beads and the braces,” said Williams, after firing 21 winners and who dyed her hair purple for the occasion.

Nishikori downed by qualifier

Spanish men’s fourth seed David Ferrer, a semi-finalist in 2007 and 2012, defeated teenage Australian qualifier Nick Kyrgios, 7-5, 6-3, 6-2 and next plays compatriot Roberto Bautista.

British qualifier Daniel Evans, the world number 179, stunned Japanese 11th seed Kei Nishikori, the biggest casualty of the opening day, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2.

Nishikori, who made the third round last year, committed 38 unforced errors.

The 23-year-old Evans had never won a main draw match at the Grand Slams until Monday and his reward is a second-round clash against Australia’s Bernard Tomic, who needed 5 sets to see off Albert Ramos of Spain.

Monday’s win guaranteed Evans at least $53,000 — $10,000 more than he has made in all of 2013 so far.

“I really want to be top 100, so that’s when the money will start to come in, is when I’m top 100 consistently,” said Evans.

“It is an added bonus. But it would be a bit strange if I was just thinking about the money after I’ve just beat the 11th seed.”

Fernando Verdasco, the 27th-ranked Spaniard, was beaten by Croatia’s Ivan Dodig 6-3, 7-5, 1-6, 4-6, 6-3.

Latvian 30th seed Ernests Gulbis also went out, losing 3-6, 6-3, 1-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-4 to Austria’s Andreas Haider-Maurer.

Polish third seed Agnieszka Radwanska, who has never got beyond the last-16, eased past Silvia Soler-Espinosa 6-1, 6-2 and next faces another Spaniard, Maria Teresa Torro-Flor.

Chinese fifth seed Li Na also reached the second round with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Olga Govortsova of Belarus.

Li, a quarter-finalist in 2009, next plays Sofia Arvidsson of Sweden.

Britain’s Laura Robson, the first British woman to be seeded at a major for 26 years, won 9 games in succession to beat Spanish veteran Lourdes Dominguez Lino, 7-5, 6-0.

The 30th seed, who ended Kim Clijsters’ career in New York 12 months ago on her way to the last 16, next faces France’s Caroline Garcia.

There was also an emotional win for Russia’s Alisa Kleybanova with the former world number 20 beating Monica Puig of Puerto Rico, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5, in her first match at a major since beating cancer.

Later Monday, Roger Federer, the former 5-time champion and seeded a lowly seventh this year, takes on Slovenia’s Grega Zemjla. –

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