US Open: Muchova sends Venus packing, Stephens eases into second round

Karolina Muchova broke Venus Williams to start the match and deployed a wide variety of shotmaking to frustrate the former world number one.

Sloane Stephens

Sloane Stephens saw off Romanian Mihaela Buzarnescu in an hour and 16 minutes.   -  AP

Karolina Muchova took advantage of an error-prone Venus Williams to advance 6-3, 7-5 into the second round of the U.S. Open on Tuesday and hand the two-time champion her first opening-round loss at the tournament.

Muchova broke Williams to start the match and deployed a wide variety of shotmaking including a pinpoint serve, a slice backhand and some well-timed trips to the net to frustrate the former world number one.

Williams was sharper at the outset of the second set and served at 5-4 with the chance to extend the match to a third, but a backhand sailed on break point and Muchova leveled at 5-5.

The 24-year-old Czech held at love the next game and sealed the win when Williams issued her third double fault on match point.

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Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic reacts after winning a point during her match with United States' Venus Williams.   -  AP

 

The 40-year-old Williams was 21-0 in opening-round matches at the U.S. Open coming into Tuesday but the seven-times Grand Slam champion was undone by 34 unforced errors at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Stephens cruises past Buzarnescu

Sloane Stephens delivered an efficient 6-3, 6-3 win over Mihaela Buzarnescu.

The 2017 champion, seeded 26th this year, smacked a backhand winner on match point to see off the Romanian after an hour and 16 minutes.

Buzarnescu contributed to her own downfall with seven double faults on a humid night on Court 17.

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Next up for Stephens is Olga Govortsova, who the American has defeated in both of their career meetings, with Serena Williams, who defeated Kristie Ahn in Round 1, looming as a possible opponent in the third round.

Muguruza shakes off rust

Spain's Garbine Muguruza looked determined to overcome her U.S. Open jinx, overcoming a sluggish start to collect a snappy 6-4, 6-4 win over Japan's Nao Hibino.

Falling behind 4-1 in the opening set, the 10th seed Spaniard looked nothing like the player who had reached the quarter-finals or better in all five events she had entered before the COVID-19 shutdown.

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The U.S. Open has been a black hole for former French Open and Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza.   -  AP

 

Having not played a competitive match since February, there was plenty of rust to shake off but Muguruza did that in a hurry. She won seven straight games from her 78th ranked opponent to take the opening set and a 2-0 lead in the second.

Even when Muguruza had the match in control, there were concerning signs about her lack of fitness. A long exchange on match point left the Spaniard gasping for breath as she slumped into her seat.

Home favourite Kenin eases into second round

Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin produced a dominant display to dispatch Belgian Yanina Wickmayer 6-2, 6-2.

American Kenin, who has lifted two titles in 2020 including her maiden Grand Slam triumph in Melbourne, broke her opponent in the first game to set the tone for the match before claiming the opening set in just 37 minutes.

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Sofia Kenin reacts during her US Open first round match against Yanina Wickmayer.   -  AP

 

The 21-year-old started the second set just like the first to take an early lead and went on to serve out the match in clinical fashion.

Keys makes quick work of Babos

Madison Keys needed just 55 minutes to beat Timea Babos 6-1, 6-1.

The hard-hitting American won 92% of her first serve points and never faced a break point while playing smothering defense against the overmatched Hungarian.

The 25-year-old Keys, who drew comparisons to Serena when she joined the tour in 2009, has been consistently ranked in the top 25 and won five titles.

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But the lack of a Grand Slam title has cast a shadow over her career.

She fell to fellow American and friend Sloane Stephens in the final at Flushing Meadows three years ago, her closest brush with Grand Slam glory.

The absence of six of the top 10 women's players at this year's tournament could open the door for the seventh-seeded Keys.

Sabalenka in round two

Fifth seed Aryna Sabalenka recorded 11 aces and 28 winners in a 7-6 (1), 6-4 victory over France's Oceane Dodin. Sabalenka will meet fellow Belarusian and former world number one Victoria Azarenka in the second round.

Azarenka advances

Former world number one Azarenka, who lifted the Western and Southern Open title last week, made swift progress into the second round with a routine 6-1, 6-2 win over Austria's Barbara Haas.

Konta overpowers Watson in battle of Brits

Ninth seed Johanna Konta saved six set points in the first set against fellow Briton Heather Watson before pulling away to a 7-6 (7), 6-1 victory.

Zhang dumped out by unheralded Bonaventure

China's 25th seeded Zhang Shuai has crashed out of the opening round after suffering a shock 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 defeat by Belgian Ysaline Bonaventure.

Mertens sails through

Belgium's 16th seeded Elise Mertens converted all her four break point opportunities in a clinical display to beat German Laura Siegemund 6-2, 6-2.

Anisimova wins

American Amanda Anisimova, who reached the French Open semi-finals last year, also eased into the second round with a 7-5, 7-5 win over Bulgaria's Viktoriya Tomova.

(With inputs from Reuters)