Roger Federer and Serena Williams began their U.S. Open title defenses Monday with easy wins in matches that will probably stick only in the memories of the players they beat.
Federer defeated NCAA champion Devin Britton 6-1, 6-3, 7-5, and Williams rolled over wild card Alexa Glatch 6-4, 6-1 to fashion a predictable start to the last major championship of 2009.
“My goal was to not get crushed,” Britton conceded, “and make it interesting for a little while.”
He did, even breaking Federer’s serve in the second and third sets, though he was unable to follow either by winning his own serve in the next game. With his coach from Ole Miss in the stands at Arthur Ashe Stadium, Britton lost three straight games at love after going up 3-1 in the second.
“I was thinking, ‘I’m up a break. This is awesome,”’ Britton said. “Then it only lasted about 30 seconds.”
Glatch was in the same boat, pushing the second-seeded Williams in the first set before losing quickly in the second. One of America’s top juniors earlier in the decade, Glatch received a wild card for the U.S. Open, only to find she was playing one of the best Grand Slam players in history.
Williams, who has won the Australian Open and Wimbledon this year, is going for her second straight and fourth U.S. Open title.
“You just try not to think about the occasion,” Glatch said. “You try to pretend it’s any other court and you’re playing against any other opponent. But it’s very hard to do, especially when it’s your first time out there in the biggest stadium there is.”
Other winners in the first round included eighth-seeded Victoria Azarenka, 12th-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska, 17th-seeded Amelie Mauresmo and 26th-seeded Francesca Schiavone. Paul-Henri Mathieu, No. 26 on the men’s side, was the first seeded player to lose, beaten by Mikhail Youzhny 2-6, 7-5, 6-0, 6-2.
American John Isner won a 16-14 second-set tiebreaker, the highlight of a 6-1, 7-6 (14), 7-6 (5) upset over 28th-seeded Victor Hanescu. Isner has missed a good part of the year with mononucleosis.
“It might have been a blessing in disguise,” Isner said. “I’ve felt fresh ever since I started playing in the States.”
Opening the day in Ashe Stadium was 2005 champion Kim Clijsters, who returned to competitive tennis this summer after taking two years off to start a family. She had a baby girl in May 2008.
Clijsters defeated Viktoriya Kutuzova 6-1, 6-1 and didn’t show much rust.
“Now it’s a matter of trying to keep this going,” the Belgian said.
She won the first seven and last 11 points of the match and grinded through her few hiccups, including three double-faults in the third game of the opening set, which extended to seven deuces before she pulled it out.