Top seed Karolina Pliskova started her US Open campaign with a decisive 6-4, 6-0 win against Anhelina Kalinina of the Ukraine.

The first-round thrashing took just 64 minutes, with the Czech serving seven aces and breaking her 145th-ranked opponent.

Pliskova finished runner-up in New York four years ago, her best result at a major.

Top seed Karolina Pliskova wins first round match Photo WTA

She came to the court without a win since the WTA resumption after the COVID-19 lockdown, but had no trouble finding her winning rhythm 

“It was strange without the crowd, I didn’t know whether to cheer for myself or not, I thought it might look a bit weird.

“I guess the tension is always there, but once you win a couple matches, you can feel different, a little bit more calm,” she said.

“But of course you still want to win the next one, so the tension never really leaves, at least with me.

“This was my first official match after a couple of months; I’m just going to try to build on that and continue.”

Pliskova began the year with the Brisbane title, 16th of her career. The Czech hammered 26 winners in her New York win against 16 unforced errors.

She will play France’s Caroline Garcia in the second round.

Due to the virus still surging in the US – more than 6 million cases and 183,000 dead – the tournament is missing six of the Top 10-ranked players, with No 1 Ash Barty and No. 2 Simona Halep both absent.

Pliskova is seeded top at a Grand Slam for the second time in her career (2017 USO)

Sixth seed and double Grand Slam champion Petra Kvitova advanced Irina-Camelia Begu 6-3, 6-2, taking barely an hour.

The Czech’s victory was her first since the Tour resumption in August; she now stands 5-0 in the series with the Romanian.

Petra Kvitova winning first round match Photo;- Rhia Nell/USTA

“I really had to get used to some things to be in the bubble,” Kvitova said. “It’s something totally different.

“Normally I’d go out for coffee, sit in Central Park – suddenly this is not an option.

“That’s how it is, and we are all on the same page, everybody has to get used to this.”.

22016 champion Angelique Kerber, who made a late decision to compete in the event, needed two chances to serve out a 6-4, 6-4 decision over Australian Ajla Tomljanovic.

The German former No. 1 recovered poise after losing in the first round here in 2019.Kerber said playing in front of crowd-free stands takes some getting used to.

“I’m just glad we can play the tournament,” she said. “we’re still in the pandemic so we have to be really careful – health is the most important thing.

“But I know we have support on TV, I’m trying to play good tennis for all of them at home.”

The No. 23 said it’s been too long since she last played at the Australian Open in January.

“It’s been such a long time,” she said of the five-month tennis virus shutdown which only ended in early August.

“This was a tough match, really close, It was good for both of us, I’m happy to be in the next round.

“I’m pleased with how I moved, it’s always different to play a match instead of just playing points in training.”

Coco Gauff lost in the first round of a Grand Slam for the first time in her young career, going down to Anastasija Sevastova 306, 5-7, 6-4.

Anastasija Sevastova photo WTA Tennis .com

The US teenager put up a massive effort in the final game, saving three match points before going down in just over two hours.


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