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By Richard Pagliaro | Monday, August 27, 2018

 
Serena Williams

Playing her first US Open match in two years, Serena Williams did not face a break point pounding Magda Linette, 6-4, 6-0.

Photo credit: Julien Finney/Getty

NEW YORK—Parting was poignant and reunion was revitalizing for Serena Williams.

Playing her first US Open match in two years, Williams rolled through seven straight games sealing a 6-4, 6-0 win over Magda Linette in her Flushing Meadows opener.

More: Venus Edges Kuznetsova

Throwing down an ace, Williams closed her 90th career US Open victory as she raised her Flushing Meadows first-round record to 18-0.

"It was great," Williams told Mary Joe Fernandez in her on-court interview afterward. "It's such a good feeling to get back out here. It's an experience I can only live in New York and it's one of the best feelings in the world."




Playing her first US Open match since she suffered a 6-2, 7-6 (5) semifinal setback to Karolina Pliskova in 2016, Serena conceded she was emotional leaving daughter Alexis Olympia in her Manhattan hotel to take the car ride to Queens.

"I think I'm getting there; I feel really good in practice and I've been training so hard so I feel like I'm getting there," Williams said. "And today was a weird day. I left my hotel and didn't get to say good-bye to Olympia so that kind of broke my spirit a little.

"So this momma was emotional, but I got through it."

Launching her quest for an Open Era-record seventh US Open crown, Williams moved closer to a potential third-round blockbuster showdown with older sister Venus.

The 38-year-old Venus withstood searing 90-degree heat and 2004 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, grinding through a grueling 6-3, 5-7, 6-3, victory that spanned two hours, 55 minutes.

"There are no easy matches," Venus said. "Everyone is playing well. The higher you're ranked, the more that people come for you. It's just a chance for them to just hit out. They always play well against you, all the top players.

"I don't know that they maintain that level, otherwise you probably would see them more often. But when you get out there, they come for you."

If Venus defeats Italian giant-killer Camila Giorgi and Serena stops 99th-ranked Carina Witthoeft in round two, the Williams sisters will square off for 30th time in the third round. 

"Just got to play, hopefully get there," Serena said of the prospect of facing big sister. "There's still several matches to play before you're there."

By the time the 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena strode on Arthur Ashe Stadium tonight, the Flushing Meadows landscape was already altered.

World No. 1 Simona Halep tumbled out of the opening round for the second straight year creating space in the top quarter of the draw that features four former top-ranked players.

Moving forward in the court, Williams knifed a backhand volley followed by a crunching forehand drive volley to apply pressure in the third game. 

Linette denied break point to hold for 2-1 during a physical first set.

Twenty-two minutes into the match, Williams was draping the ice towel around her neck during changeoevers.

Snapping her shots with more authority, Williams was working the angles when she punished a 76 mph second-serve slashing a forehand return down the line for double break point.

When Linette scattered a backhand down the line wide, Williams had the first break and a 4-3 lead.

Serving with new balls, Williams worked through a deuce hold to back up the break.

Varying the spins on serves, Williams served out the 42-minute opening set, winning 10 of 13 second-serve points.

Seizing the first set loosened up Williams, who roared through six straight points to start the second set.

One of the game's greatest front-runners wasted little time stretching her lead.

Williams permitted just five points on serve streaking through a shutout second set—the first bagel the former No. 1 has dispensed at the Open since she beat Bethanie Mattek-Sands, 3-6, 7-5, 7-0, in the 2015 third round.

Playing just her seventh tournament of the season, the Wimbledon runner-up ran away with the second set closing a 70-minute victory.



 

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