Maria Sharapova followed up a flashy opening night ceremony on center court at the U.S. Open with some flashy tennis of her own Monday.
Sharapova, a five-time major tournament winner, who is seeded No. 5 here, dropped behind in the first set, 4-2. Her opponent was her longtime friend from Russia, Maria Kirilenko, who was one of three players ever to beat Sharapova in her 44 opening-round Grand Slam tournament matches.
That was the last time that happened, in 2010 at the Australian Open, and Sharapova was clearly determined not to have a repeat.
So she merely ran off the next 10 games and won, 6-4, 6-0.
“It’s tough to start here in New York City,” she said afterward.
She also said that, having missed last year’s U.S. Open with an injury, she was happy to be back. She has won all four of the major tournaments at least once and took her U.S. Open title in 2006.
“I missed this court,” she said of Arthur Ashe Stadium and its 22,500 seats.
She also said it was tough to play a friend but that she was happy to see Kirilenko back and playing after having gone through a series of injuries.
Kirilenko, once No. 10 in the world and owner of six tour singles titles, has slipped to No. 113.
Murray struggles but wins
The only major player on the men’s side to struggle on the first day was Britain’s Andy Murray.
Murray battled cramps throughout his match with Robin Haase of the Netherlands and needed four sets to win, 6-3, 7-6 (6), 1-6, 7-5.
Murray, the 2012 U.S. Open champion, is seeded eighth.
On the women’s side, No. 2 Simona Halep of Romania had her hands full with a U.S. wild card entrant, Danielle Rose Collins, who won this year’s NCAA title for the University of Virginia. In the first match of the tournament on the Arthur Ashe Stadium court, Halep prevailed, 6-7 (2), 6-1, 6-2.
Two other U.S. players had varying results.
Sloane Stephens looked sharp in a 6-0, 6-3 victory over No. 59 Annika Beck of Germany. Stephens is ranked 24th and seeded 21st here.
Donald Young went out in straight sets to Blaz Kavcic of Slovenia, 7-5, 6-4, 6-4.
The International Tennis Writers announced their annual awards to the most media-friendly tournaments. The Australian Open won in the Grand Slam category for the third consecutive year and the BNP Paribas at Indian Wells won for all other tournaments. The tournament director for the Indian Wells event is Steve Simon.