Serena Williams clocked up her 19th straight victory over Maria Sharapova on Monday to make an emphatic 6-1, 6-1 winning start at the US Open.
A year ago, Williams was defeated in the final by Naomi Osaka, with the 23-time grand Slam champion American meltoing down in a running argument with the chair umpire which almost got her defaulted.
Against Sharapova, Williams, who last lost to the Russian who has suffered through seasons of shoulder and arm injuries in 2004, was able to take command early over her longtime nemesis.
The rout took just 59 minutes, with committing 20 unforced errors and Williams breaking on five of six chances as Sharapova was all but humiliated.
Ash Barty mounted a fresh assault on the No 1 ranking as the Australian completed a fightback to reach the second round with a 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 defeat of Kazakh Zarina Diyas.
The second-seeded winner of the French Open could get a second bite of the cherry as she bids to regain No. 1 – but will have to hope that top seed Naomi Osaka does not successfully defend her title from a year ago here.
Barty was denied just over a week ago as she lost in a Cincinnati semi-final, leaving Osaka on the summit spot heading into the final Grand Slam of the season.
After dropping the opening set, Barty kick-started her comeback to advance of Diyas. “I probably would have preferred if it was a little bit more straightforward, but, yeah, happy the way we were able to fight through that and find a way after a pretty awful start,” Barty said,.
“I went back to the basics, went back to square one and started figuring it out.
“It was not the ideal start,but it is what it is. We were able to find a way after that to get into the match and be more patient and really just kind of lock down and wait until I got the right balls and right patterns that I wanted.”
Compatriot and wild card Samantha Stosur, who won the 2011 title over Serena Williams, was drummed out in 63 minute by Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova, with the Australian plagued by 26 unforced errors.
There was more bad news for Australia as Daria Gavrilova went out to Frenchwoman Fiona Ferro 6-3, 6-4
But it was likely much worse for 2014 Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard as the Canadian lost her eighth consecutive WTA match, going down to Latvian 12th seed Anastasija Sevastova 6-3, 6-3.
Bouchard could not overcome 27 unforced errors along with five double-faults against the semi-finalist here a year ago.
Bouchard’s ranking of 119 will sink a few more notches after her defeat; he last win at the Tour level came in the Dubai first round in February.
Britain’s Johanna Konta, a first-round loser at the previous two editions, managed a 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 victory over Daria Kastakina to reach the second round.
Venus Williams, who won the first of back-to-back Open trophies in 2000, spent 66 minutes in crushing Zheng Saisai 6-1, 6-0, with her Chinese victim offering little resistance.
The 39-year-old winner joins Martina Navratilova on the record of 21 Flushing Meadows appearances, most of the Open era.
Three-time Grand Slam winner Angelique Kerber’s clump deepened, with the German losing her fifth match from her last six as she went down to Kristina Mladenovic 7-5, 0-6, 6-4.
“This year it was not really the best year for Grand Slams for me (two first-round defeats),” she said. “I tried everything I could.
“Over the last ten days I prepared as good as I could. This is sport, and we have to deal with this.”