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Rediff.com  » Sports » US Open Photos: Djokovic, Sharapova sparkle while others toil

US Open Photos: Djokovic, Sharapova sparkle while others toil

Last updated on: August 26, 2014 11:52 IST

US Open PHOTOS: Sharapova surges past compatriot Kirilenko

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Former champions Novak Djokovic and Maria Sharapova sparkled under the Arthur Ashe Stadium lights to end a steamy first day that proved more than a little stressful for several of the US Open favourites on Monday.

French Open champion Maria Sharapova swept the last 10 games to surge past fellow Russian Maria Kirilenko 6-4, 6-0 and into the second round of the US Open on Monday.

What is Maria Sharapova's secret recipe for success?

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Image: Maria Sharapova of Russia reacts after defeating Maria Kirilenko of Russia
Photographs: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

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Tightened control

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Trailing 2-4 in the first set, the five-time Grand Slam winner tightened control of her booming groundstrokes to break back, then steamrolled to victory in her return to Flushing Meadows after missing last year's event with a shoulder injury.

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Image: Maria Kirilenko of Russia reacts against Maria Sharapova of Russia
Photographs: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
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'Tough missing this court last year'

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"It was tough missing this court last year," Sharapova told the crowd in an on-court interview after improving her US Open night record to 17-0. "To be back here you realize how meaningful it is to keep working."

Sharapova, the 2006 US champion, will next meet Romania's Alexandra Dulgheru, a straight sets winner over Czech Kristyna Pliskova.

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Image: Maria Sharapova of Russia returns a shot against Maria Kirilenko of Russia during her women's singles first round match on Day One of the 2014 US Open
Photographs: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

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Breezy workout for Djokovic

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Djokovic, who had won only two matches in the hard court run-up to the season's final Grand Slam after getting married just days after his Wimbledon triumph, was back to his best once the centre court spotlight shone on him at Flushing Meadows.

The 2011 champion treated his first-round match against unseeded 22-year-old Argentine Diego Schwartzman like a breezy workout, dominating in all phases with 24 winners including seven aces in a 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 rout.

Despite the night programme starting one hour later than scheduled due to ceremonies featuring bands, speeches and fireworks, Djokovic enabled the New York night crowd to head to the exits shortly before the stroke of midnight.

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Image: Novak Djokovic of Serbia reacts after defeating Diego Schwartzman of Argentina
Photographs: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

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'It's never easy to start a US Open smoothly'

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"I'm very pleased," the Serbian World No 1 said in a courtside interview after his 97-minute win. "It's never easy to start a US Open smoothly."

Several of the favourites at Flushing Meadows could attest to his opinion.

Busy bees made life difficult for two grizzled veterans and a pair of favourites were forced to work overtime on a hot, steamy day at the US National Tennis Centre that drew a combined 57,000 fans to the day and night sessions.

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Image: Novak Djokovic of Serbia greets Diego Schwartzman of Argentina after their men's singles first round match
Photographs: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

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Easy victory for Murray

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Eighth-seeded 2012 champion Andy Murray fought off cramps to beat Dutchman Robin Haase in four painful sets, while women's second seed Simona Halep lost a first-set tiebreak to US debutante Danielle Collins before claiming victory.

Murray looked on his way to an easy victory before he fell victim to cramps that left him stretching and straining to get comfortable before clinching a 6-3, 7-6 (6), 1-6, 7-5 victory over Haase.

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Image: Andy Murray of Great Britain reacts against Robin Haase of the Netherlands
Photographs: Julian Finney/Getty Images

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'I did train very, very hard to get ready for the tournament'

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"I felt extremely good before the match, and I did train very, very hard to get ready for the tournament," said Murray, one of the fittest players on the ATP Tour.

"My quads were cramping, then it started to get to my lats, then my forearms," he added. "I just tried to hang around and at the end I was trying to play without moving my legs much and managed to get through.”

Murray said he might consult with a nutritionist before meeting his second-round opponent, Germany's Matthias Bachinger.

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Image: Andy Murray of Great Britain drinks during a break against Robin Haase of the Netherlands
Photographs: Julian Finney/Getty Images

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Pesky bees joined in

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Some busy bees made life difficult for two grizzled veterans and a pair of favourites were forced to work extra hard on a steamy opening day at the US Open.

In a fascinating match-up between 19th seed Venus Williams and Kimiko Date-Krumm of Japan, the oldest players in the women's draw, some pesky bees joined in and refused to leave them alone.

A less serious intrusion bugged the irresistible women's match between seven-time Grand Slam singles winner Venus Williams and Japan's remarkable Kimiko Date-Krumm, who were beset by bees.

First the 43-year-old Japanese player and later 34-year-old Williams dipped, ducked and danced away before ballgirls helped usher the determined bees off the baseline.

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Image: Ball people attempt to catch a honey bee in front of Kimiko Date-Krumm of Japan during her women's singles first round match match against Venus Williams of the United States
Photographs: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

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'The bee was a challenge but easily the answer is Kimiko'

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When finally left to play tennis on sun-bathed Arthur Ashe Stadium court, Williams stung Date-Krumm 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 to advance.

Asked about who presented the peskier test in the two-hour match, two-time US winner Williams said: "The bee was a challenge but easily the answer is Kimiko."

"The way she hits the ball is like no one else on tour and it's never easy to get a rhythm with her, and all our matches have been tough. So I'm happy to have pulled it out."

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Image: Venus Williams of the United States returns a shot against Kimiko Date-Krumm of Japan
Photographs: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

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Kyrgios upsets Mikhail Youzhny

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In an upset on the men's side, twice US Open semi-finalist Mikhail Youzhny of Russia, the 21st seed, fell to big-serving Australian teenager Nick Kyrgios 7-5, 7-6 (4), 2-6, 7-6 (1).

The 19-year-old Kyrgios, who made a Wimbledon splash by ousting Rafael Nadal in the fourth round to reach the quarter-finals, blasted in 26 aces.

The 60th-ranked Kyrgios advanced to a second-round match against Italy's Andreas Seppi.

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Image: Nick Kyrgios of Australia serves against Mikhail Youzhny of Russia
Photographs: Elsa/Getty Images

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Wawrinka advances

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Advancing with relative ease in straight sets were Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland and fifth-seeded Canadian Milos Raonic.

The Swiss third seed beat Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic to set up a second-round test against Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci, while big-serving Raonic defeated Japan's Taro Daniel to get to the next round against Peter Gojowczyk of Germany.

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Image: Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland returns a shot against Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic
Photographs: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

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Halep survived a scare

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Halep survived a scare in the tournament's opening match on stadium court before overtaking Collins 6-7(2), 6-1, 6-2.

The 22-year-old Romanian, a finalist at the French Open, admitted to a case of nerves in being thrust onto the big stage as the opening act of the season's last Grand Slam.

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Image: Simona Halep of Romania returns a shot to Danielle Rose Collins of the United States
Photographs: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
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'Everybody is telling me I have chances to win this title'

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"She played a tough match, I want to congratulate her," Halep said about her 20-year-old opponent, who was given a wild card for winning the US college championship.

"The first set I was a little bit nervous. This court is huge.

"I have to enjoy it, but it's not easy. Everybody is telling me I have chances to win this title."

She moves on to face Slovakian Jana Cepelova, a 2-6, 7-5, 6-1 winner over Spain's Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor, in the second round of the season's last grand slam.

Also advancing on the women's side were fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, sixth seed Angelique Kerber of Germany, and former world number one Jelena Jankovic of Serbia, the ninth seed.


Image: Simona Halep of Romania serves to Danielle Rose Collins of the United States
Photographs: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

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