New York: Five-time champions Roger Federer and Serena Williams reached the US Open second round on Tuesday, but found themselves sharing the headlines with teenage upstarts CiCi Bellis and Borna Coric.
Federer claimed his 50th win of 2014 as the 17-time major winner, playing in his 60th successive Grand Slam and bidding to become the oldest major winner in over 40 years, defeated Australia's Marinko Matosevic 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (7/4) to register his 23rd win in 24 night matches in New York.
Roger Federer and Serena Williams. Pic/ AFP
"It was a bit more difficult than I thought it was going to be in the third set. Marinko has a big game," said second seeded Federer who hit 10 aces and 41 winners and was cheered on by basketball legend Michael Jordan.
Federer will face another Australian, big-serving Sam Groth, for a place in the last 32 as he continues his bid for a record sixth US Open but first since 2008. Women's world number one Williams, the double defending champion who is also seeking a sixth title, was equally untroubled, defeating 18-year-old compatriot Taylor Townsend, 6-3, 6-1 in just 55 minutes.
Williams, like Federer, a 17-time major winner, has failed to make it past the fourth round at the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon this year. "This was the first Slam I ever won. I love coming out to play -- I never want it to stop," said Williams, who was dressed in a leopard-print dress for the occasion and next tackles compatriot Vania King.
When the world number one won her first US Open in 1999, CiCi Bellis wasn't even five months old. But on Tuesday Bellis, ranked at a lowly 1,208 and aged just 15, knocked out Australian Open runner-up, Dominika Cibulkova, the 12th seed, 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 to become the youngest player to win a match at the US Open since Anna Kournikova in 1996.
"I went into the match thinking it was going to be such a great experience, but I never thought I would come out on top winning," said Bellis who, as an amateur, had to pass up the $60,000 prize money to avoid jeopardising a college sports career.
Coric, the 17-year-old world number 204 who was junior champion in 2013, also made a stunning Grand Slam debut with a convincing 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 win over 29th-seeded Czech Lukas Rosol, the man who dumped Rafael Nadal out of Wimbledon two years ago. The upset put Coric into a second-round clash with history-making Victor Estrella Burgos, the Dominican Republic's first Grand Slam participant who is making his US Open debut at 34. "It's an amazing feeling," said qualifier Coric, who arrived in New York with the goal of making it into the main draw.
"I said to myself, 'If I achieve that, that's going to be perfect'." - Kvitova untroubled - Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova breezed into the second round with a 6-1, 6-0 rout of French number 73 Kristina Mladenovic. The third-seeded Czech didn't surrender a service break in the 54-minute contest, breaking Mladenovic five times. Canadian seventh seed Eugenie Bouchard, the Wimbledon runner-up, eased past Olga Govortsova of Belarus 6-2, 6-1, slamming the brakes on her post-All England Club final slump which had brought her just one win coming into New York. Bouchard is one of four Canadians in the main draw this year, the most since 1989 and is aiming to keep up her record of having made at least the semi-finals at all the majors in 2014.
Australia's Samantha Stosur, the 2011 champion, went through with a 6-1, 6-4 win over Lauren Davies of the United States, firmly erasing the nightmare of her 2013 first round exit to US teenager Victoria Duval. However, another former champion, Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 2004 winner was dumped out 3-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7/3) by New Zealand's Marina Erakovic who won her first US Open match at the fifth time of asking.
Victoria Azarenka, the runner-up to Williams for the last two years, defeated Japan's Misaki Doi 6-7 (3/7), 6-4, 6-1 as the 16th seed looks to resurrect a season wrecked by a left foot injury which restricted her to one event in six months in the first half of 2014.
Two-time men's semi-finalist David Ferrer, the Spanish fourth seed, was also a Tuesday winner, beating Bosnia's Damir Dzumhur 6-1, 6-2, 2-6, 6-2. America's top hope in the men's division, 13th seeded John Isner saw off compatriot Marcos Giron 7-6 (7/5), 6-2, 7-6 (7/2) as he bids to end the United States' 11-year wait for a men's Grand Slam title.
The US Open is a celebrity magnet, but the sight of NBA icon Michael Jordan watching tennis great Roger Federer compete creates a stir even among jaded New Yorkers. Jordan, known for his love of golf, not tennis, turned out to see 17-time Grand Slam winner Federer kick off his bid for a sixth US Open title in Flushing Meadows on Tuesday.
In a courtside interview with ESPN, Jordan admitted he knew nothing about tennis -- but even he could appreciate Federer's smooth movement on court.
"He's a good athlete," said Jordan, who sat in Federer's box and received cheers when his image was shown on Arthur Ashe Stadium's video screens. "I know he played basketball a bit."
Federer and Jordan -- who both have long associations with apparel maker Nike -- met for the first time in New York on Monday, Federer posted an Instagram selfie of the two.