US Open: Kvitova laments empty stands, Goffin sees it as an 'advantage'

Petra Kvitova converted four of five break point opportunities and fired 23 winners to defeat her Romanian opponent at Flushing Meadows.

Petra Kvitova added that being in the bubble meant she was no longer free to do what she would have wanted during her off days at the hardcourt major.   -  TWITTER (US OPEN)

Sixth seed Petra Kvitova handily defeated Irina-Camelia Begu 6-3 6-2 in first-round action at the U.S. Open on Monday but the Czech admitted it took some time getting used to playing in front of the empty stands at Flushing Meadows.

The twice Wimbledon champion converted four of five break point opportunities and fired 23 winners to defeat her Romanian opponent.

“I had to motivate myself from the beginning to the end,” the 30-year-old said in an on-court interview.

ALSO READ| US Open: Players frustrated to be in “bubble within a bubble” after positive COVID-19 test

She also lamented the lack of crowd support at the event, which is being played without any fans in attendance due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has claimed over 180,000 lives in the United States.

“It's really mentally tough, to be honest,” she added.

She added that being in the bubble meant she was no longer free to do what she would have wanted during her off days at the hardcourt major.

ALSO READ| US Open: Zverev downs Anderson, Tsitsipas advances

“Going out for the coffee, sitting in Central Park. Suddenly this is not (an) option,” Kvitova told reporters.

Facing off on Court 17, the pair enjoyed unseasonably cool weather under cloudy skies, which was a welcome change from previous years when soaring temperatures left players drenched in sweat.

World number 12 Kvitova put the pressure on early, winning 10 of 12 net points and launching two aces in the first set.

Kvitova, who suffered a second-round exit last year at Flushing Meadows, will next face either Kateryna Kozlova of Ukraine or American Whitney Osuigwe.

-US Open without fans an 'advantage' against Opelka, says Goffin-

Some players at the U.S. Open have bemoaned the lack of fans at locked-down Flushing Meadows but Belgium's David Goffin says the empty stands were to his advantage against home hope Reilly Opelka on Monday.

Seventh seed Goffin beat Opelka 7-6(2) 3-6 6-1 6-4 at Court 17 where a healthy crowd of home fans would normally be right behind the towering American.

The novel coronavirus pandemic means the U.S. Open is taking place without spectators, with players living in a protective bubble under strict health and safety guidelines.

“I think to play in an empty stadium today was more advantage for me,” the straight-talking Belgian told reporters.

ALSO READ| Mum's the word as Serena, Clijsters, Azarenka take the stage at US Open

“Especially against him I think it was an advantage .... When you feel the pressure of the crowd on your shoulder, everybody's behind Reilly, it would have been tougher, I think, today.”

No fans in the U.S. Open bubble also gives players more scope to flit between courts as they please and be proper spectators at matches they might usually only monitor on screens.

With the day off on Tuesday, Goffin said he could watch compatriot Kim Clijsters's return to Grand Slam tennis when the 37-year-old wildcard and three-times U.S. Open champion plays her opener against Russia's Ekaterina Alexandrova.

“It's so nice to have the opportunity to see all the matches, to walk between the courts and watch when it's important moment on a match or when it's an opponent that you want to see live,” said Goffin, who next plays unseeded South African Lloyd Harris.

“Most of the time you cannot go out, otherwise you are in the fans and you cannot walk between the matches. It's tough.

“There it's quite nice. You have a suite, so I can watch the match on centre court, when you have lunch, watch all the players.

“(Clijsters) could be, for example, a match that I could watch tomorrow live ... Could be nice.”

For more updates, follow Sportstar on :