Iga Swiatek lived up to her US Open top ranking on Tuesday with a resounding 6-3, 6-0 thrashing of outclassed Italian Jasmine Paolina to charge into the second round.
The Pole who won 37 matches – and six titles – on the spin earlier in 2022, was ruthless in her 67-minute demolition of an outclassed opponent.
The win also marked her half-century this season.
“I’m pretty happy with the performance,” the WTA No. 1 said. “I had better rhythm than in Toronto and Cincinnati so that’s great.
“For sure in the beginning of the first set I played a pretty solid game, but I needed to take it up to another level.
‘I did that at the end and in the second set, so I’m pretty proud of that.”
Swiatek finished with seven breaks of serve and produced 14 winners; No. 56 Paolini had a costly 18 unforced errors.
After lifting six titles this season, Swiatek is keen to bury memories of tune-up events in Toronto and Cincinnati where she stalled in the third round.
“Cincinnati was pretty tough, here it was much much better,” she said. “I got a lot of confidence from practicing and hitting the balls in, actually playing better and better every day.
“I feel like my level is just better … we’ll see if I’m going to hold on to that.”
Venus Williams, who won her two Open titles more than two decades ago, lost a first round here for only the second time in 23 appearances, following up her 2020 defeat by Karolina Muchova with a Tuesday defeat at the hands of Alison van Uytvanck 6-1, 7-6(5).
The Belgian had lost eight of nine first-round matches in New York.
Williams, 42, is playing in her 91st Grand Slam and still has a shot at doubles with sister Serena, due to retire after the event ends.
Venus was playing only her fourth match of the season, losing all of them; she had won at least one match each season on the Tour since 1994.
She made no apologies for her sparse schedule which included a pause form August 2021 to this month.
“It was definitely the longest I’ve been away from tennis and been without a racquet in my hand,” she said.
“It was a completely new experience for me, getting a racquet back in my hand and trying to acclimate as quickly as possible to be ready for the US Open, which was not easy.
“I’m very excited about, you know, all the good moments that I had this summer (three losses in the first round).
“I definitely walked out there and did my best under the circumstances.”
Tournament No. 6 Aryna Sabalenka defeated US qualifier Catherine Harrison 6-1, 6-3.
American eighth seed Jessica Pegula, a Toronto semi-finalist who has never passed the third round here, beat Swiss qualifier Viktorija Golubic 5-2, 6-2 in 64 minutes.
Roland Garros quarter-finalist Pegula said she needed to overcome a case of first-match nerves.
“You’re always a little nervous going out there for your first match. But I thought I did a pretty good job of handling it.
“I got through rather quickly against what I feel could have been a very, very tricky opponent, especially somebody who qualified and has a lot of confidence on the courts.
“I’m just happy with my performance today.”
Outside of Wimbledon where she reached the 2021 quarter-finals, Golubic has done it tough at the other majors, standing 1-18.
Her lone victory came in the Roland Garros first round in 2016 when she put out Alison Riske from a qualifying start before losing to Lucie Safarova.
Spain’s ninth-seeded double Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza started with a win over Dane Clara Tauson 6-3, 7-6(5).
The winner said she surprised herself slightly with the two-hour win.
“I’m not taking any win for granted, especially this year,” the 28-year-old ranked 10th seed said.
“It’s been a year where I haven’t had many wins. I’m so very happy to get this first round here.
“I’ve had some early exits here. I was playing an opponent that I have never played before, so I didn’t really know what to expect.
Unseeded Chinese Zheng Qinwen, who upset former US Open finalist Bianca Andreescu and Wimbledon finalist Ons Jabeur in Toronto this month, advanced to the second round over former Paris champion Jelena Ostapenko 6-3, 3-6, 6-4.
2016 finalist and three-times quarter-finalist Karolina Pliskova moved through to the second round with a defeat of Poland’s second player Magda Linette 6-2, 4-6, 7-6(8) with the winner sending over nine aces in the two-and-a-half-hour battle.
2017 New York champion Sloane Stephens overcame Belgian Greet Minnen in a 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 fightback.