Serena routs Sharapova to reach US Open second round
Serena Williams trounced old foe Maria Sharapova 6-1 6-1 in their blockbuster first round clash at the U.S. Open on Monday to get her quest for a record-tying 24th Grand Slam title off to a flying start.
Williams, in her first U.S. Open match since her infamous row with the chair umpire overshadowed her loss in last year's final, used her trademark power to overwhelm Sharapova in the first New York meeting between two of the sport's biggest names.
Eighth seed Williams showed no signs of the back spasms that forced her to retire in tears from the Toronto final two weeks ago and instead showcased some of her best on-court movement since returning from maternity leave in 2018.
Williams, who last faced Sharapova at the 2016 Australian Open, improved to 20-2 in career meetings versus the Russian, who has fallen to 87th in the rankings amid an injury-hit 2019 season that included shoulder surgery in February.
A stone-faced Sharapova was left to ponder a 6-1 6-1 drubbing that proved once again Williams has all the answers when the pair meet on court.
"I thought she served really well. Found her spots really well. Didn't feel like we got into too many long rallies," said Sharapova. "I think the 1-2 punch. She won a majority of those points."
They were due to meet at last year's French Open but Williams withdrew due to injury.
Sharapova has not taken a set off Williams since the Miami Open in 2013.
The 32-year-old Russian, who was banned for 15 months for taking the banned drug meldonium in 2016, struggled with injuries earlier this year, including persistent shoulder problems that have plagued her in the past.
The five times Grand Slam champion underwent a small surgical procedure for her right shoulder that caused her to miss the Miami Open.
Serena Williams (US Open 2019)Eurosport
"I missed a lot of this year with my shoulder. Just getting the routines back and being back in the draws is, you know, it's tough to talk about after a defeat, but it's a long road," Sharapova said.
"It's facing an opponent that's at her stature is extremely difficult in the first round of a slam, coming in with the fact that I haven't played that much."
There is no love lost between the two, with Sharapova including Williams in her autobiography in anecdotes that the American described as "hearsay."
"Sport is very much result-oriented. There's stories behind the results," said Sharapova. "There's phases you have to get through in order to get to where you want to go.
"This is a very different chapter in my career. It's not an easy road. It's never been."
Williams next faces fellow American Catherine McNally, after the wildcard beat Switzerland's Timea Bacsinszky 6-4 6-1.