New York | Wimbledon champions Andy Murray and Serena Williams powered into the second round of the US Open as the stars came out on Arthur Ashe Stadium court.
Williams, launching her latest bid to rewrite the record books, started strong and didn’t let up in 6-3, 6-3 victory over 29th-ranked Ekaterina Makarova.
The US world number one appeared untroubled by the balky right shoulder that has hindered her in recent weeks, delivering a dozen aces and 27 winners overall in the 63-minute contest.
“I knew today I needed to be focused because I’ve played her. She’s gotten to the semi-finals. She goes deep in majors,” Williams said of the Russian left-hander who beat her in the fourth round of the 2012 Australian Open.
“She knows how to play big matches on big courts. She’s not intimidated. I knew I had to really come out today. It was my only option really.”
Williams said she wouldn’t know until she’d slept on it how her shoulder might respond to the effort.
“Every day, I’ll just see how it goes,” said Williams, who is chasing a record seventh title on the hard courts of Flushing Meadows where she first triumphed in 1999.
A victory would see her break the Open Era record of 22 Grand Slam titles she now shares with German Steffi Graf and close in on Margaret Court’s all-time mark of 24 major titles.
While Williams has struggled since Wimbledon, Murray went from claiming a second title at the All England club to a successful defense of his Olympic gold in Rio.
Vying to become the fourth man in the Open Era to reach all four major finals in a calendar year, Murray, too, produced a dominant service performance in a 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 victory over Czech Lukas Rosol.
“I don’t think I had any break points against me, which is very good,” the Scot said.
Before the floodlights came up, Serena’s elder sister Venus claimed a Grand Slam record of her own as her 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 victory over Ukraine’s Kateryna Kozlova marked her 72nd appearance in the main draw of a major.
The 36-year-old Venus, enjoying resurgence in a 2016 season that includes a WTA title in Taiwan, survived 63 unforced errors against the rising 22-year-old, although she was pleased that her aggressive approach also yielded 46 winners.
“The good part is I’m playing the game I want to play, I’m playing aggressively and moving forward,” Venus said.
“It’s just about making a few less errors and it’s a completely different story.”
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