World No.1 Serena Williams opened her US. Open account with a tidy 6-3 6-3 win over Ekaterina Makarova on Tuesday, to join her sister Venus in the second round of the year’s final grand slam.
Williams, whose status as world No.1 is under attack from several fronts, delivered a message that she will not be surrendering the top spot without a fight, needing just 63 minutes to dispatch the 29th-ranked Russian.
Germany’s Angelique Kerber and Spain’s Garbine Muguruza, who have both beaten Williams in slam finals this season, along with Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska, will all be eyeing the No.1 ranking should the American’s bid for a 23rd grand slam title stall.
Williams has held the top spot since February 18, 2013 and will extend her streak to 186 consecutive weeks by the end of the US Open fortnight, tying the WTA record currently held by Steffi Graf.
Back on Arthur Ashe Stadium court for the first time since a shock loss to Italy’s Roberta Vinci in last year’s semi-finals, Williams made quick work of Makarova to follow the lead of her sister Venus.
Venus outlasted Ukraine’s Kateryna Kozlova 6-2 5-7 6-4 before turning over the Arthur Ashe Stadium court to her top-seeded sibling.
“It was great to be challenged and to be pushed,” said the 36-year-old Venus, a two-time US Open champion, “because I had to get in those situations that you know you’re going to face in the tournament.”
Joining them in the second round was fifth seed Simona Halep, who blasted her way into the second round by demolishing Kirsten Flipkens 6-0 6-2 and underlining her credentials as a potential grand slam winner.
Halep, a winner of three WTA Tour events this season, carried her superb form into Flushing Meadows as she needed just one hour on a sun-splashed but almost vacant Arthur Ashe Stadium court to dismiss the 56th-ranked Belgian.
Not so lucky was Serbian star Ana Ivanovic, who was the biggest name to bow out of the women’s draw on day two of action.
Ivanovic is out of the US Open in the first round for the second straight year after a 7-6 (7-4) 6-1 loss to Denisa Allertova of the Czech Republic.
Ivanovic, a former No.1 player and 2008 French Open winner has slipped to No.31 in the rankings.
The Serb was serving for the first set at 6-5 on Tuesday but struggled with her serve and faltered in the tiebreaker. She finished with seven double-faults and 41 unforced errors.
The loss left Ivanovic searching for answers about how she can climb back up the rankings.
“I feel like I have been putting a lot of work on the court and in the gym over the year,” she said.
“It’s been very frustrating not getting anything in return, because I really feel like I invested my heart and also the work.”