Nadal, Williams sisters cruise at US Open
By Julian Linden ,ReutersNEW YORK -- Rafa Nadal made an ominous return to the U.S. Open on Monday while the sister act of Serena and Venus Williams shared the spotlight as the last grand slam of the year got underway.
August 28, 2013, 12:01 am TWN
Roared on by the energetic Flushing Meadows crowds, the trio turned on a masterclass of power hitting at Arthur Ashe Stadium before New York's fickle weather brought proceedings to an early end.
A late rain shower forced tournament organizers to abandon the opening day's play before former world number one Roger Federer was about start his match against Slovenia's Grega Zemlja.
Nadal, who missed last year's U.S. Open because of a chronic knee problem, demonstrated his intentions to make up for lost time as he demolished American wildcard Ryan Harrison 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 during the day session.
Bouncing around the unforgiving hard-court like a kangaroo, the Spaniard chalked up 28 winners despite the blustery conditions at the U.S. National Tennis Center.
“For me, the chance to be back here playing is great,” said Nadal. “The first match after two years in the Arthur Ashe is a great feeling.”
Serena needed just one hour to remind everyone why she remains the overwhelming favorite to win the women's title as she demolished Italy's Francesca Schiavone 6-0, 6-1.
The American showed no mercy against her opponent, who won the French Open in 2010 and was a finalist in Paris the following year, conceding just 23 points in the 60-minute romp.
“I knew playing a former grand slam champion in the first round was a really tough draw so I decided to be super serious,” she said.
Not to be outdone, her older sister Venus rolled back the years with a head-turning appearance on the center court, arriving with her hair braided and dyed a deep purple.
Her fingernails were also polished in the same vivid fuchsia and no repeat of the injury problems that have sidelined her for most of the year as she dispatched Belgium's Kirsten Flipkens 6-1, 6-2.
The 33-year-old, the second oldest player in the women's singles draw, provided a glimpse of the form that saw her win the U.S. Open in 2000 and 2001 as she strolled to a surprisingly quick win.
“It's good to be back,” said Williams, who has only played 18 matches this year and slipped to 60th in the world rankings while Flipkens is enjoying the best season of her career.
The 27-year-old made the semi-finals at Wimbledon in July, her best result at any grand slam, and was seeded 12th for the U.S. Open but found Williams too hot.
“When Venus is on fire, she is on fire,” said Flipkens.
“If Venus is fit and she's focused she's a top 10 player. Today she was like a top-10 player.”