US Open: Sharapova surges through, Halep and Venus fight back

Maria Sharapova swept the last 10 games to surge past fellow Russian Maria Kirilenko 6-4 6-0, while Simona Halep and Venus Williams had tougher assignments to reach the second round of the US Open.

Maria Sharapova returns to Maria Kirilenko in the first round of the US Open
Maria Sharapova returns to Maria Kirilenko in the first round of the US Open

Trailing 2-4 in the first set, five-times Grand Slam winner Sharapova tightened control of her booming groundstrokes to break back, then steamrolled to victory in her return to Flushing Meadows after missing last year's event with a shoulder injury.

"It was tough missing this court last year," the French Open champion told the crowd in an on-court interview after improving her US Open night record to 17-0. "To be back here you realise how meaningful it is to keep working."

Sharapova, the 2006 US champion, will next meet Romania's Alexandra Dulgheru, a straight sets winner over Czech Kristyna Pliskova.

Second seed Halep lost a first-set tiebreak to US debutante Danielle Collins before claiming victory.

Halep survived a scare in the tournament's opening match on stadium court before overtaking Collins 6-7 (2) 6-1 6-2.

The 22-year-old Romanian, a finalist at the French Open, admitted to a case of nerves in being thrust onto the big stage as the opening act of the season's last Grand Slam.

"She played a tough match, I want to congratulate her," Halep said about her 20-year-old opponent, who was given a wild card for winning the US college championship.

"The first set I was a little bit nervous. This court is huge.

"I have to enjoy it, but it's not easy. Everybody is telling me I have chances to win this title."

She moves on to face Slovakian Jana Cepelova, a 2-6 7-5 6-1 winner over Spain's Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor, in the second round of the season's last Grand Slam.

A fascinating match-up between 19th seed Venus Williams and Kimiko Date-Krumm of Japan, the oldest players in the women's draw, was gate-crashed by some pesky bees that refused to leave them alone.

First the 43-year-old Japanese player and later 34-year-old Williams dipped, ducked and danced away before ballgirls helped usher the determined bees off the baseline.

When finally left to play tennis on sun-bathed Arthur Ashe Stadium court, seven-time Grand Slam singles winner Williams stung Date-Krumm 2-6 6-3 6-3 to advance.

Asked about who presented the peskier test in the two-hour match, Williams said: "The bee was a challenge but easily the answer is Kimiko.

"The way she hits the ball is like no one else on tour and it's never easy to get a rhythm with her, and all our matches have been tough. So I'm happy to have pulled it out."

Also advancing on the women's side were fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, sixth seed Angelique Kerber of Germany, and former world number one Jelena Jankovic of Serbia, the ninth seed.

US Open results

First round

5-Maria Sharapova (Russia) beat Maria Kirilenko (Russia) 6-4 6-0

19-Venus Williams (U.S.) beat Kimiko Date-Krumm (Japan) 2-6 6-3 6-3

6-Angelique Kerber (Germany) beat Ksenia Pervak (Russia) 6-2 3-6 7-5

Alla Kudryavtseva (Russia) beat Duan Yingying (China) 2-6 6-2 6-4

Belinda Bencic (Switzerland) beat Yanina Wickmayer (Belgium) 6-3 6-2

31-Kurumi Nara (Japan) beat Aleksandra Wozniak (Canada) 6-2 6-1

21-Sloane Stephens (U.S.) beat Annika Beck (Germany) 6-0 6-3

Johanna Larsson (Sweden) beat Virginie Razzano (France) 6-0 6-0

Tsvetana Pironkova (Bulgaria) beat Karin Knapp (Italy) 6-4 6-3

9-Jelena Jankovic (Serbia) beat Bojana Jovanovski (Serbia) 6-2 6-3

14-Lucie Safarova (Czech Republic) beat Timea Babos (Hungary) 6-4 7-5

Zheng Saisai (China) beat Stefanie Voegele (Switzerland) 1-6 6-2 6-2

Daniela Hantuchova (Slovakia) beat Romina Oprandi (Switzerland) 4-6 6-2 6-3

22-Alize Cornet (France) beat Amandine Hesse (France) 6-1 6-2

28-Roberta Vinci (Italy) beat Paula Ormaechea (Argentina) 6-3 6-3

Irina Begu (Romania) beat Silvia Soler Espinosa (Spain) 7-6(4) 6-3

Peng Shuai (China) beat Zheng Jie (China) 6-3 6-3

4-Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland) beat Sharon Fichman (Canada) 6-1 6-0

Alexandra Dulgheru (Romania) beat Kristyna Pliskova (Czech Republic) 6-3 6-4

Madison Brengle (U.S.) beat Julia Glushko (Israel) 6-3 6-2

26-Sabine Lisicki (Germany) beat Francoise Abanda (Canada) 6-3 7-5

18-Andrea Petkovic (Germany) beat Ons Jabeur (Tunisia) 7-6(7) 1-6 6-3

Monica Puig (Puerto Rico) beat Tereza Smitkova (Czech Republic) 3-6 6-3 6-3

Aliaksandra Sasnovich (Belarus) beat Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (Slovakia) 6-4 6-3

10-Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark) beat Magdalena Rybarikova (Slovakia) 6-1 3-6 2-0 (Rybarikova retired)

13-Sara Errani (Italy) beat Kirsten Flipkens (Belgium) 6-1 7-5

Anastasia Rodionova (Australia) beat Camila Giorgi (Italy) 1-6 7-5 6-3

Timea Bacsinszky (Switzerland) beat Kiki Bertens (Netherlands) 6-7(7) 4-3 (Bertens retired)

Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (Croatia) beat 25-Garbine Muguruza Blanco (Spain) 6-3 7-6(4)

Shahar Peer (Israel) beat Johanna Konta (Britain) 6-2 6-3

Jana Cepelova (Slovakia) beat Maria Teresa Torro (Spain) 2-6 7-5 6-1

2-Simona Halep (Romania) beat Danielle Collins (U.S.) 6-7(2) 6-1 6-2

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