New York: World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka rolled into the third round of the US Open with an emphatic 6-2, 6-2 victory over Belgian qualifier Kirsten Flipkens on Wednesday.
Seeking her second Grand Slam title after winning the Australian Open this year, Belarusian Azarenka will face 28th seed Zheng Jie of China in the third round.
Azarenka’s punishing ground strokes under sunny skies at Flushing Meadows were too much for the 133rd-ranked Flipkens, who had advanced to the second round of a major for the first time since Wimbledon in 2010. Although Azarenka successfully landed only 60 percent of her first serves and failed to record an ace, she was able to fight off all three of Flipkens’ break point opportunities.
Earlier, defending champion Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams each dropped just two games against bewildered opponents on Tuesday, leading a procession of top seeds into the second round.
Joining Djokovic in the winner’s circle at Flushing Meadows were No. 5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, No. 6 Tomas Berdych, and former champion Andy Roddick, the 20th seed.
On the women’s side, former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki was a first-round casualty while second seed Agnieszka Radwanska and No. 6 Angelique Kerber advanced easily. Djokovic took just an hour and 13 minutes to blitz Italy’s Paolo Lorenzi 6-1, 6-0, 6-1 in his first-round match under the lights on a cool evening at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Djokovic’s win was so one-sided that it was difficult to tell if the 2011 US Open champion was that good or Lorenzi had perhaps the worst evening of his life on a tennis court.
“My game was great from the start to the end,” said the second seeded Djokovic, who won three of the four Majors last year. “It’s also important for me to try to be as economical with the time I spend on the court as possible, but obviously not underestimating any opponent. “I played really focused, tried to get to the net also. It was great all in all.”
The 69th-ranked Lorenzi said he had trouble with the blustery conditions before a sell-out crowd of nearly 24,000 at cavernous Ashe Stadium. “I had never played on the centre court and there was a lot of wind,” he said. “So sometimes I’d miss an easy ball because the ball was flying a lot. But he’s playing so good. I tried my best.”
The fourth-seeded Serena followed Djokovic on the court and produced a 6-1, 6-1 rout of 75th-ranked American Coco Vandeweghe, who committed 22 errors and produced only nine winners against the 30-year-old, 14-time Grand Slam champion.
World No. 2 Radwanska of Poland showed no signs of a shoulder injury that forced her out of the New Haven tournament last week as she routed 91st-ranked Nina Bratchikova 6-1, 6-1.
Hampered by a knee problem, eighth-seeded Wozniacki never broke the serve of world No. 96 Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania and lost 6-2, 6-2. “You always want to go in and do your best no matter what’s happening out there,” Wozniacki said softly. “I tried. I didn’t play particularly well, made too many errors. It’s unfortunate because it’s a huge tournament, a tournament you want to play well in.”
Venus Williams overpowered Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-3 6-1 and in the process clocked the fastest women’s serve of the tournament to date at 124 mph. Now ranked No. 46, Venus said she yearned to get back into the world top 10 but conceded “it never happens the way you want it to.”
“That’s one thing I found out throughout my whole career,” said Venus, who was forced to withdraw from the tournament shortly before her second-round match last year after discovering she had an auto-immune disease. “When you don’t make it to one goal, just make some more. But, of course, I’m looking forward to the top 10, all that great stuff. I feel like I have it in me.”
Like Venus, Roddick is trying to re-capture the form that saw him win the US Open in 2003. On Tuesday, he cruised past American qualifier Rhyne Williams 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.