Serena Williams vs. Maria Sharapova was once one of tennis’ top rivalries.
The word “rivalry” no longer applies after Williams earned her 19th consecutive win in the head-to-head series, routing Sharapova 6-1, 6-1 on Monday in the first round of the U.S. Open in New York.
The match lasted just 59 minutes.
Williams, a 37-year-old American, is seeded eighth. Sharapova, a 32-year-old Russian, is unseeded and is ranked 87th.
Sharapova beat Williams in the 2004 Wimbledon final, but she hasn’t topped Williams in any match since 2005. Included in Williams’ winning streak were the finals of the 2007 Australian Open, the 2013 French Open and the 2015 Australian Open.
“She’s such a good player. Every time you come up against her you have to be super focused,” Williams said, “so every time I come up against her I just bring out some of my best tennis.”
Williams is now 20-2 vs. Sharapova.
“It’s easy to be discouraged after a match like this, … (but) bottom line is I believe in my ability,” Sharapova said. “You can write me off. There are many people that can write me off, especially after going down 6-1, 6-1 in the first round of the U.S. Open. (But) as long as it’s not the person that’s inside of you, you’ll be OK.”
Several other top seeds, including No. 2 Ashleigh Barty of Australia and No. 3 Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, secured wins in their first-round matches Monday.
Barty survived a three-set battle vs. Kazakhstan’s Zarina Diyas, dropping the first set 6-1 before rallying to win 6-3, 6-2.
“I just had to start with my serve,” said Barty, the reigning French Open champion. “I really wasn’t giving myself enough chances on serve. I don’t know what the percentage was in the first set … but it wasn’t good.”
Pliskova had only a slightly easier time of it against fellow Czech Tereza Martincova, going to tiebreakers in both sets in order to take the win, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (3).
“Not perfect, but I’m through, so that’s important,” Pliskova said. “Of course, as I said before, the first rounds, they are always a little bit nervous, I would say, for most of the players. Doesn’t help that you play somebody from your country, because then it adds some extra nerves.”
No. 5 Elina Svitolina of Ukraine also moved on after a 6-1, 7-5 win over American Whitney Osuigwe.
In a first-round battle of Americans, No. 20 Sofia Kenin defeated Coco Vandeweghe 7-6 (4), 6-3, while another notable American, unseeded Venus Williams, cruised past China’s Saisai Zheng, 6-1, 6-0.
“I was happy with today, so I’m not going to ask for more,” said Venus Williams, who won the last of her seven majors at Wimbledon in 2008. “Whether the win is easy or whether it’s tough, a win is a win.”
Two seeded players lost Monday. No. 14 Angelique Kerber of Germany fell to France’s Kristina Mladenovic, 7-5, 0-6, 6-4. No. 27 Caroline Garcia of France fell to Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur, 7-6 (8), 6-2.
In other action featuring seeded players, No. 10 Madison Keys of the United States eliminated Japan’s Misaki Doi, 7-5, 6-0; No. 12 Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia defeated Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard, 6-3, 6-3; and No. 16 Johanna Konta beat Russia’s Daria Kasatkina, 6-1, 4-6, 6-2.
China’s Wang Qiang, the 18th seed, ousted Caroline Dolehide of the United States, 6-4, 6-4. No. 22 Petra Martic of Croatia survived vs. Slovenia’s Tamara Zidansek, 6-4, 4-6, 6-1, and No. 29 Su-Wei Hsieh of Taiwan defeated Slovakia’s Jana Cepelova, 6-4, 5-7, 6-3.
–Field Level Media