Serena Williams is "looking better every day" and only she could handle the US Open hoopla that surrounds her, according to world number one Iga Swiatek.

In a febrile atmosphere, Williams made a winning start to her final Flushing Meadows campaign on Monday night, getting the better of Montenegrin Danka Kovinic.

A 6-3 6-3 first-round win over the world number 80 prompted Williams to break out in a jig of delight, and now world number two Anett Kontaveit awaits the great American in round two.

Williams will returns to Arthur Ashe Stadium on Wednesday evening, when she is certain of another big reception and overwhelming support.

Kovinic's best winners barely received a smattering of applause, while her mistakes were often cheered by some in the crowd.

The crowd's partisanship could again come into play when 23-time grand slam singles champion Williams, who is planning on retiring after this tournament, tackles a tough task against Kontaveit.

Swiatek watched the opening games on Monday and remarked that she had "got tight just by watching", feeling all the strain Williams was under.

"So I realised that I need to stop," said a smiling Swiatek. "I can't imagine what she must feel, having this kind of atmosphere around her and just finishing.

"I know she's doing a tournament, but I feel like yesterday it was like people did so much work to show appreciation to what she's done. It's pretty amazing. I have never seen something like it.

"For sure it was like the most popular first round of a slam ever. I'm pretty happy that she can experience something like that. I also feel that not every player would handle that kind of fuss around your first match of the tournament.

"She's handling it pretty well, as usual. So that's just confirmation of how great she is."

Williams came onto the court in a glittery tennis dress and cape, along with jewel-encrusted tennis shoes, with Swiatek describing the outfit as "pretty cool".

With two grand slam titles to her name, the 21-year-old Swiatek is among the favourites to be champion in New York.

When she watched the fanfare and ceremony for Williams, along with the first couple of games, it brought it home to Swiatek just why many regard the 40-year-old as the GOAT – greatest of all time.

"It was kind of too much for me even watching that. I realise how she must feel, but she is kind of used to it more than us," Swiatek said.

"We never had such attention around us, because she's just a GOAT. She has it probably for most of her career, so I guess she's used to it. But for me, just watching that, I was pretty shocked."

Swiatek refused to predict how the Kontaveit match would go. The Estonian is ranked second largely because of her strong run of form at the back end of last season, with recent results not so impressive or consistent.

"I feel like against Serena – I have never experienced that, so I just assume – it's all about your mindset and mentality," said French Open champion Swiatek, who beat Italian Jasmine Paolini 6-3 6-0 on Tuesday.

"I know Anett can play great tennis. It's not a mistake that she's second in the world right now. But on the other hand, I feel like Serena is looking better and better every day."

World number one Iga Swiatek cruised through her first test at the US Open by swatting away Jasmine Paolini 6-3 6-0 at Flushing Meadows.

The Polish star is chasing a third grand slam title, and her second of the year after triumphing at the French Open in June.

Having held top spot in the rankings since April in the wake of Ash Barty's retirement, the 21-year-old is chasing her best result yet in New York, having reached the fourth round last year.

Against the unseeded Paolini, she made an impressive start to her quest at Louis Armstrong Stadium, with a near-flawless performance that saw her break her opponent seven times.

Swiatek showcased her ruthless streak barely a handful of minutes into the first set, rifling home three unanswered points on her first serve before promptly breaking the Italian for the first time.

Another break followed, before Paolini hit back to make matters 4-2, the only time she looked to seriously threaten the Pole's dominance.

Swiatek responded with her third break in a row, before bouncing back from another lost service game to seal the first set.

With momentum on her side, the Roland Garros victor bulldozed her opponent across the second set – and though Paolini was able to save match point once, there was never any doubt who was heading through to round two.

Data Slam: Swiatek's youthful spirit powers on

Having failed to live up to expectations to an extent when her 37-match winning streak came to an end at Wimbledon against Alize Cornet, and struggled for consistency on tour since, Swiatek responded in impressive fashion.

With 45 grand slam match wins under her belt now, she is the youngest woman to reach that number since Caroline Wozniacki did so at the 2011 Australian Open.

Swiatek– 14/18
Paolini – 5/18

Swiatek– 1/0
Paolini – 1/3

Swiatek– 7/9
Paolini - 2/3

Nick Kyrgios hopes he never has to face Thanasi Kokkinakis again after eliminating his close friend and doubles partner in the opening round of the US Open.

The Wimbledon runner-up began his latest quest for a maiden singles grand slam crown with a routine 6-4 6-4 7-6 (7-4) victory at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Monday.

It marked the first time the pair, who won the doubles event on home soil at the Australian Open in January, have met in a tour-level match.

Kyrgios will also partner Kokkinakis in the US Open doubles, and the 27-year-old did not enjoy facing his compatriot in singles competition.

"When we both saw the draw, it was a nightmare, honestly," Kyrgios said. "We never want to play each other. 

"I've just got so much respect for him. I can't wait to get out there and play doubles with him on the right side of the net.

"We just know each other's games like the back of our hand. We've played together since we were about nine years old. 

"He knows my game well. I know his game extremely well. I just played the bigger points well early on. We're going to play each other, hopefully, never again."

Kyrgios will now take on Benjamin Bonzi, who beat fellow Frenchman Ugo Humbert in five sets to advance at Flushing Meadows.

Despite suggesting this year's US Open will be her final tournament before retirement, Serena Williams said "you never know" after her first round victory against Danka Kovinic.

The 23-time grand slam winner was made to work for the win, but strong support from the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium helped Williams over the line in a 6-3 6-3 success on Monday.

In a recent interview with Vogue Magazine, Williams indicated she was ready to move on to the next stage of her life, signalling an intent to bring her decorated career to an end after the event at Flushing Meadows.

Asked about her intentions during the post-match press conference, Williams said while smiling: "Yeah, I've been pretty vague about [retirement], right? I'm going to stay vague because you never know."

Williams credited the atmosphere, admitting it meant a lot to her to have such a strong following against her Montenegrin opponent.

"I think when I walked out, the reception was really overwhelming. It was loud and I could feel it in my chest. It was a really good feeling. It's a feeling I'll never forget, so... yeah, that meant a lot to me," she said.

"I was just thinking, like, 'Is this for real? Really?' At the same time, I'm also thinking 'I still have a match to play and I want to be able to play up to this reception almost.'

"It was so loud. I just was overwhelmed, in a good way. But at the same time it's like you have to be focused, you have to be laser-focused. That's what I needed to do and that's what I tried to do."

The 40-year-old plays number two seed Anett Kontaveit in the second round on Wednesday, and she did go on to seemingly confirm she intends to hang up her racquet once her tournament is over.

"The more tournaments I play, I feel like the more I can belong out there," she added. "That's a tough feeling to have, and to leave knowing the more you do it, the more you can shine.

"But it's time for me, you know, to evolve to the next thing. I think it's important because there's so many other things that I want to do."

Ukrainian qualifier Daria Snigur dedicated her shock victory over Simona Halep in the opening round of the US Open to the people in her war-torn country.

The world number 124 marked her debut in the main draw of a major with a 6-2 0-6 6-4 win at Flushing Meadows on Monday.

Snigur is the lowest-ranked player to win a grand slam match against Halep – one of the favourites for the title – since Maria Sharapova at the same tournament in 2017.

She is also the first female qualifier to win a US Open match against a top-10 seed since Johanna Konta eliminated Garbine Muguruza seven years ago.


Making Snigur's achievement all the more incredible is that the 20-year-old's training base in Kyiv was bombed by Russia, forcing her to instead prepare for the event in Riga.

Reflecting on the biggest win of her burgeoning career, a tearful Snigur said: "This is a victory for Ukraine, for all Ukrainian people, for my family, for my team.

"The situation is bad, of course. I try to do the best for Ukraine, I try to support my country.

"It's not so easy because the war is continuing. Sometimes it's impossible to play but I try to do my best because I want to live in Ukraine.

"I have to say thanks to Simona for this incredible match. I want to thank all the fans who watched our match today."

Two-time major champion Halep has lost just three of her past 19 first-round matches in grand slams, though each of those have come at the US Open.

Snigur will now face Rebecca Marino, who defeated Magdalena Frech in straight sets to advance to the second round.

Serena Williams joined elite company in the final tournament of her playing career becoming the fourth player in the Open Era to win a Grand Slam match in her teens, 20s, 30s and 40s.

Williams joined 18-time Grand Slam champion Martina Navratilova, former world number four and three-time major semi-finalist Kimiko Date Krumm and six-time major winner and sister Venus Williams in achieving the feat.

The American's 6-3 6-3 win over Danka Kovinic in the US Open first round on Monday comes ahead of her 41st birthday next month, with Williams aged 40 years and 337 days.

The 40-year-old has been lauded for her decorated playing career, highlighted by 23 Grand Slam titles, but none of that is possible without endurability.

Williams's career spans 27 years, having turned professional in 1995 and having first played in a major in 1998 at the Australian Open. She played in that year's US Open too and has won every first-round match at Flushing Meadows in her career (21).

The ceremony and pomp after Monday's win was bigger than ever, with words from Oprah Winfrey and Billie Jean King along with an extended interview conducted by Gayle King with Williams, followed by a crowd display of signs reading "We love Serena".

It all offered a level of finality, despite Williams still being live in the tournament, albeit with a tougher test against second seed Anett Kontaveit to come on Wednesday.

Despite all that Williams, who has steered clear of the word retirement instead using "evolution", teased reporters when she replied to a question about the US Open definitively being her final tournament with a smile: "Yeah, I've been pretty vague about it, right? I'm going to stay vague because you never know."

Stefanos Tsitsipas had a shot at rising to the number one ranking at the 2022 US Open but instead he is out in the first round following a four-set loss to Daniel Galan on Monday.

The world number 94 stunned recent Western and Southern Open finalist Tsitsipas in the first two sets by winning the first 11 games of the match, before the Greek rallied but Galan would triumph 6-0 6-1 3-6 7-5 in two hours and 48 minutes.

World number five Tsitsipas, who has never gone beyond the third round at Flushing Meadows, did need treatment for a forearm tightness but admitted he was simply "dominated" by Galan who eventually prevailed on his ninth match point.

The 24-year-old had some form after reaching the final in Cincinnati earlier this month, losing to Borna Coric, and felt it was a missed opportunity, in the absence of Novak Djokovic, to press his case for the top rank across the next fortnight.

"I was very motivated and pumped before the US Open started because I knew I could use this tournament to get closer to the number one spot," Tsitsipas said.

"It would be very weird and very unusual if it didn’t cross my mind, because this is something I wanted since I was a kid and I know this is my chance now to step it up.

"It just didn’t go as planned. Sometimes you just need to let it go, you don’t need to overthink it, you don’t need to push yourself too hard but at the same time it’s difficult because there’s this open opportunity right in front of you, you don’t want to mess it up, you don’t want to waste it."

"My chances are a bit smaller. The margin is not as thin as it used to be now after the US Open but I’m still going to try and add points to my ranking, as much as I can until the end of the year, I really want to perhaps finish in the top three… more opportunities ahead."

Tsitsipas, who only won seven points in the opening set, hit 57 unforced errors for the match compared to Galan's 36.

The Greek only managed 28 winners, with Galan hitting 41, while the Colombian also had the better of the all the key serve categories, winning 74 per cent on his first serve.

"He dominated the match," Tsitsipas said. "I just couldn't get into it."

Serena Williams says the "crazy" crowd support she received in Monday's US Open first-round clash with Danka Kovinic helped will her over the line for a hard-fought victory.

The 40-year-old, who will end her decorated playing career after this year's US Open, triumphed in one hour and 39 minutes with a 6-3 6-3 win amid raucous scenes at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

It was a star-studded turnout at the stadium to watch what could have been Williams' last singles' match, but the six-time US Open winner proved too good, extending her farewell campaign.

Despite staying live in the tournament, Williams was honoured with a lengthy post-match ceremony including addresses from Oprah Winfrey and Billie Jean King and an extended interview with Gayle King, followed by a pre-organised crowd display where letters on cards showed the words "We Love Serena".

The 23-time Grand Slam champion appeared nervy early, including two double faults in the first game, and letting a 2-0 lead slip to trail by a break at 2-3 in the first set.

Williams won the next four games to clinch the opening frame and was decisive in the second set.

"The crowd was crazy," Williams said. "It really helped pull me through… I was really calm. Yes, I got this."

The triumph marked the first step on Williams' farewell tour at the US Open, although she has a sterner test next in the second round against second seed Anett Kontaveit on Wednesday which will likely attract another wild crowd.

"Just keep coming out and supporting me as long as I'm here, and know that I love you so much and I'm so excited to be here," Williams said.

Williams was asked about her decision to move on from playing tennis, which she described as her "evolution" rather than retirement in an essay in Vogue.

"It's been a very hard decision," she said.

"I think when you're passionate about something and you love something so much, it's always hard to walk away.

"Sometimes I think it's harder to walk away than to not. That's been the case for me. I've been trying to decide for a little while what to do.

"I think now's the time. I just have a family. There's other chapters in life. I call it evolution."

Serena Williams battled nerves early but has commenced their US Open farewell campaign with a first-round victory over Danka Kovinic in front of a loud Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd on Monday.

The 22-time major champion, who will end her decorated tennis career after the Flushing Meadows tournament, triumphed in one hour and 39 minutes over the unseeded Montenegrin 6-3 6-3.

Williams will face a bigger test next on Wednesday against second seed Anett Kontaveit who eased past Jaqueline Cristian 6-3 6-0.

Given Williams' impending retirement, there was a sense of expectation but also trepidation inside the star-studded center court and the 40-year-old appeared nervous early on with two double faults in a row in the first game.

But after a topsy turvy first set that included five breaks of serve, Williams eventually got a stronghold of the contest.

Williams improved as the match wore on, hitting 23-18 winners, with Kovinic having 28-9 forced errors.

Kovinic won three games in a row after Williams led 2-0 early, but the American responded in the sixth game to break back to square it up and never looked back.

Williams was forced to save four break points in an epic service game before converting set point after back-to-back aces.

The six-time US Open champion broke Kovinic in the fifth game of the second set to assert her control on the contest, before clinching the match by breaking to love.

Kovinic – 18/25 
Williams – 23/25

Kovinic – 6/8 
Williams – 9/6

Kovinic – 2/10
Williams – 5/11

Former US Open champion Dominic Thiem has been bundled out at Flushing Meadows in the first round by Pablo Carreno Busta 7-5 6-1 5-7 6-3 on Monday.

The Austrian, who was back to defend his 2020 title after missing last year due to a wrist injury, was no match for the 12th-seeded Spaniard, despite coming in with a 7-0 head-to-head record.

Four-time Grand Slam finalist Thiem has struggled for the past 14 months, with a mix of injury and form, only gaining entry at the US Open with a wild card.

Thiem is now ranked 211th in the world and has a 9-10 record this season, albeit with an improved past two months.

Former world number three Thiem had waited 426 days between ATP Tour level wins, when he triumphed at the Swedish Open in July this year.

Carreno Busta, who won in Montreal earlier this month, won in three hours and 18 minutes, rallying back from a 2-4 deficit early to peel off 10 of the next 11 games and claim a two-set lead.

Thiem responded in the third set by breaking in the second game, with Carreno Busta committing more unforced errors, but the Austrian could not maintain the pressure in the fourth.

The Austrian hit 44-31 winners but was not helped by unforced errors (54-32), while his first serve percentage was down at 59 per cent, winning only 58 per cent on his first serve.

Daniil Medvedev says he is not feeling the "extra pressure" of being the defending US Open champion after easing to a 6-2 6-4 6-0 victory over Stefan Kozlov in the first round.

The Russian won the first grand slam title of his career last year when he defeated Novak Djokovic at Flushing Meadows, and started his defence in dominant fashion on Arthur Ashe Stadium on Monday.

The world number one broke American outsider Kozlov eight times in a one-sided encounter in New York, in which he struck 37 winners and committed 19 unforced errors 

Top seed Medvedev does not feel burdened by being the man who won the final major of the year in 2021.

"[There is] a little bit [of] extra pressure [in being the defending champion]," he stated, "But mostly, I don't feel it, to be honest.

"Probably the only pressure is I know if I'm not going to play good here, for whatever reason... I will not care that I won it last year, I will just be disappointed that this year did not work out my way."

Medvedev will face Arthur Rinderknech next on Wednesday, after the Frenchman defeated his compatriot Quentin Halys in four sets on day one.

Simona Halep was the first big casualty at the US Open when she was sensationally beaten by qualifier Daria Snigur on day one.

Halep arrived at Flushing Meadows as one of the favourites to win the title after she was crowned Canadian Open champion this month.

The two-time grand slam champion fell at the first hurdle, though, as Ukrainian Snigur consigned her to a stunning 6-2 0-6 6-4 defeat on Louis Armstrong Stadium.

Making her first appearance in the main draw at a major, the unheralded 20-year-old was rewarded for a positive approach, winning eight out of 12 points at the net and breaking five times.

Halep swept the world number 124 aside in the second set, but the outsider claimed the upper hand with break in the first game of the decider and went on to open up a 5-1 lead.

The former world number one showed her fighting spirit to hang in there, reducing the deficit to 5-4, but Snigur demonstrated nerves of steel to serve out the match and looked as shocked as anyone after sealing her place in the second round in New York.

Halep paid the price for 30 unforced errors, crashing out after a run to the semi-final in the last major at Wimbledon.

Andy Murray equalled Lleyton Hewitt by claiming his 47th main-draw win at the US Open as he came through a tricky first-round clash with Francisco Cerundolo.

Just under 10 years on from his maiden grand slam triumph at Flushing Meadows, where he famously beat Novak Djokovic in a near five-hour final, Murray overcame 24th seed Cerundolo in relatively short order.

The world number 51 produced one of the more impressive performances since his return from hip surgery to win 7-5 6-3 6-3 in two hours and 42 minutes on the Louis Armstrong Stadium court.

It is a success that moved him level with Australian great Hewitt, with whom he now shares ninth place on the all-time list for the most main-draw wins in New York.

Additionally, it marked Murray's first straight-sets win at a grand slam since his fourth-round victory over Benoit Paire at Wimbledon in 2017.

Cerundolo, meanwhile, is still awaiting his first main-draw win at a major.

He has enjoyed a breakthrough year, winning his first ATP title at the Swedish Open in July and reaching a career-high ranking of 24, but fell at the first hurdle for the third successive major having failed to qualify for the Australian Open at the start of the year.

Murray will play John Millman or Emilio Nava in the second round.

Emma Raducanu can deal with the high expectations around her but needs to find a coach and stick with them, according to former British number one John Lloyd.

Raducanu is set to defend her US Open title at Flushing Meadows as the final grand slam of the year gets underway on Monday.

The teenager's sensational success at the 2021 tournament as a qualifier came from nowhere, but she has been unable to replicate it since, having not won any further singles titles.

In fact, she has not even been beyond the quarter-finals of any slam or WTA Tour event since her extraordinary success.

Lloyd still struggles to comprehend her achievement.

Speaking to Stats Perform, Lloyd said: "When you win a slam the expectations are going to go through the roof, that's just the way it is.

"She achieved something, I'd liken it to Rocky, it was very similar. People have sent me film scripts like the one Wimbledon, the tennis film that came out, and I told the person, they sent me the script six months before, I said, 'This is stupid, stop coming up with these movies where you get some guy or woman comes up from the qualifiers and wins a grand slam, it doesn't happen, it's stupid, it's never going to happen.' And then she goes and does it.

"What she achieved was amazing, but she did it almost like getting an A in a test without doing the homework. She really didn't do the homework to get there.

"She hasn't done the miles yet, and her body hasn't, the toughness hasn't come. She went above it before she was ready in some ways, but she's already got it, that's in her pocket now. She is a slam winner and no-one can take that away from her.

"The expectations are unbelievably high, and they're going be and she has to face that fact, she can’t hide it, she's a slam winner so people are going to expect, but people in the game know that it was going be a tough year [for her]."

The 19-year-old split from her coach Torben Beltz in April after just six months, saying she needed "a new training model" and she has been working with Dmitry Tursunov on a trial basis in the last month.

Beltz became the third coach to move on from working with Raducanu in just 12 months after she swapped Nigel Sears for Andrew Richardson, who had been in her corner at last year's US Open.

Lloyd acknowledges there is not necessarily a right way to do things in tennis, though he is certainly not convinced by Raducanu's approach of choosing a new coach every few months.

"I'm not a big fan of the coaching situation," Lloyd added. "After what Richard Williams did [coaching Venus and Serena Williams] … to say that there's a norm, he threw that out the window.

"What they're doing now in coaching is almost like they're getting hold of coaches, soaking up like a sponge all the information they have and then they go onto the next. I don't think that works in tennis. I could be proved wrong, but I don't think that's right.

"You have to have coaches that you trust completely, because I think a lot of winning matches – I don't want to give too much credit to coaches because it's the person on the court that does the work – but I think a lot of matches are won by the night before the match, and even the morning of the match… you have a trust a coach and what they're saying to you.

"You're a unit, and I don't think chopping and changing having a different coach every three months is the right way to go about. I could be wrong but I think she has to have a settled coach."

Nick Kyrgios declared he would welcome an early exit from the US Open ahead of his first-round match against Thanasi Kokkinakis, claiming he remains "exhausted" following his run to the Wimbledon final.

Kyrgios came close to clinching his first grand slam title when he met Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon final in July, taking the opener but ultimately succumbing to defeat in four sets on Centre Court.

The enigmatic Australian, who has never gone beyond the third round of the US Open, will begin his final major campaign of the year against his compatriot and doubles partner Kokkinakis on Monday.

But the 27-year-old is not enamoured by the prospect of a deep run in New York, revealing he struggles with being away from his homeland while playing on the ATP Tour.

"A big part of me just wants the US Open to be over so I can go home," he said on Sunday.

"It's brutal not being able to have the normality of your own bed or your own family for so long and then you have to deal with all this.

"The media, the fans, the training, the matches, the pressure, especially on my spectrum as well – it's not normal. So it's hard. It's really hard.

"I'm definitely feeling very exhausted. Just after Wimbledon, I didn't even have time to enjoy it.

"Everyone gets to go home on the tour. They get to take a cheeky little flight back home to reset. There's just no other type of tennis player who really understands that [homesickness] apart from the Australians.

"Whether I win or lose, it's going to be the same for me. It's a win-win for me. If I win, it's more money and another great result. If I lose, I get to go home."

Asked what he had gained from his thrilling Wimbledon run, Kyrgios said: "The confidence in myself to be able to do it over two weeks. Staying in a single spot for two to three weeks can be exhausting. 

"To know that I can do that and go about things the right way and take every practice session, every recovery session, the right way, it's confidence in the back of my mind. 

"But also, I'm the type of player that if I had won Wimbledon, I probably wouldn't have played the US Open."

Meanwhile, the US Open is set to mark a final grand slam appearance for legendary 23-time major singles champion Serena Williams, and Kyrgios believes she deserves to be considered the greatest player in the sport's history.

"Obviously it's a very special moment for her. She's probably the greatest of all time," he added.

"Whether or not we see anyone live the career that she has? I don't think that's possible."

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