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Serena routs Sharapova in one-sided US Open showdown

Serena Williams trounced old foe Maria Sharapova 6-1, 6-1 in their blockbuster first round clash at the US Open on Tuesday (AEST) to get her latest quest for a record-tying 24th grand slam title off to a flying start.

Williams, in her first US Open match since her infamous row with the chair umpire overshadowed her loss in last year's final, used her trademark power to overwhelm Sharapova in the first New York meeting between two of the sport's biggest names.

Eighth seed Williams showed no signs of the back spasms that forced her to retire in tears from the Toronto final two weeks ago and instead showcased some of her best on-court movement since returning from maternity leave in 2018.

Williams, who last faced Sharapova at the 2016 Australian Open, improved to 20-2 in career meetings versus the Russian, who has fallen to 87th in the rankings amid an injury-hit 2019 season that included shoulder surgery in February.

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"The body is good," Williams told the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium. "I feel good. My back is a lot better so I'm excited. This is going to be fun."

The rivals, who have had a frosty relationship that dates back to 2004 when Sharapova earned her breakout win against Williams in that year's Wimbledon final, came out firing right from the start.

Sharapova did her best to trade big shots with Williams but it quickly became apparent she simply did not have the same high gear she used to collect five grand slam titles.

The Russian has fallen to 87th in the rankings during an injury-hit season that included shoulder surgery in February.

Williams, extremely focused throughout the 59-minute encounter, got the first break of the match to go ahead 3-1 and that appeared to free up the six-time champion's playing style as she did not give Sharapova any chance to wrestle away momentum.

The 37-year-old Williams, facing Sharapova for the first time since the 2016 Australian Open, kept pressing and grabbed a double-break for a 5-1 lead and went on to serve out the set.

Sharapova had chances to punch back in the second set but was unable to cash in on any of the five break points she had, the first two while trailing 2-1 and then another three while behind 4-1.

Next up for Williams will be American wildcard Catherine McNally, who beat Swiss Timea Bacsinszky 6-4, 6-1 earlier on Monday.

Joining her in the next round is 39-year-old older sister Venus, who beat Saisai Zheng 6-1, 6-0 to remain undefeated in first-round matches in a record-tying 21st appearance at her home grand slam.

The 2000 and 2001 winner Williams will next meet fifth-seeded Elina Svitolina, after the lopsided affair on Monday in which she fired 25 winners to Zheng's six.

Meanwhile former US Open champion Angelique Kerber crashed out, losing 7-5, 0-6, 6-4 to Kristina Mladenovic.

Three-time grand slam champion and former world No.1 Kerber is having a poor year and is also without a coach.

Serena Williams barely raised a sweat in thrashing Maria Sharapova.

Serena Williams barely raised a sweat in thrashing Maria Sharapova.Credit:AP

She reached the last 16 at the Australian Open in January but then crashed out in the first round at the French Open, second round at Wimbledon followed by first-round defeats in Toronto and Cincinnati.

German women's tennis head Barbara Rittner and national icon Boris Becker agreed on Eurosport that coming to New York without a coach after parting ways with Rainer Schuettler after Wimbledon was a massive mistake.

"She wouldn't have lost the match with a coach," Rittner insisted. And Becker said: "I cannot understand that she played here without a coach."

But Kerber said: "I won't be pressured by anyone. The key to defeat was not that I have no coach," she insisted, also saying "I don't know yet" when asked whether she will get a new coach.

Women's third seed and former finalist Karolina Pliskova dropped her first three service games and blew a double break 3-0 lead in the second before prevailing 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (7-3) in a tight duel against 138th-ranked fellow Czech Tereza Martincova.

Eugenie Bouchard, a former Wimbledon finalist and top-10 player, lost her 11th straight tour match to last year's semi-finalist Anastasija Sevastova 6-3, 6-3.

In the men's draw, Novak Djokovic opened his title defence in style with a straight-sets win over Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena.

Top seed Djokovic, who has claimed four of the past five grand slam titles, took some time to settle in his first career meeting with Carballes Baena but ultimately romped to a 6-4, 6-1, 6-4 victory in less than two hours in Arthur Ashe Stadium.

"I really like the conditions of the balls, the speed of the court, the weather is fantastic. You know, it's just very enjoyable," Djokovic, who beat Juan Martin del Potro in last year's final, said.

The Serbian remains undefeated in 14 opening-round encounters at Flushing Meadows and that streak was never in doubt against world No.76 Carballes Baena.

"Obviously it's not the first time to be in the second round so I know what I need to do," Djokovic said in his on-court interview.

Up next for Djokovic will be Argentine Juan Ignacio Londero, who overcame American Sam Querrey in four sets.

World No.5 Daniil Medvedev continued his recent good form with a 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 defeat of India's Prajnesh Gunneswaran, despite taking a medical timeout during the match.

Seventh-seeded Kei Nishikori became the first player into the second round when qualifier Marco Trungelliti had to retire with the 2014 US Open runner-up leading 6-1, 4-1.

Belgian 15th seed David Goffin needed four sets to account for Corentin Moutet while other seeded players to advance were Borna Coric, Lucas Pouille, Nikoloz Basilashvili and Dusan Lajovic.

Reuters, AAP

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