Serena Williams: Maria Sharapova Brings the best out of me

Updated: Aug 28, 2019, 10:57 IST | AFP

That's how USA's 23-time Grand Slam champ Serena summarised her 6-1, 6-1 1st-round rout of Russian tennis ace

USA's Serena Williams returns to Russia's Maria Sharapova during 
their US Open first round match in New York on Monday. Pic/AFP
USA's Serena Williams returns to Russia's Maria Sharapova during their US Open first round match in New York on Monday. Pic/AFP

New York: Serena Williams began her quest for a 24th Grand Slam singles crown by crushing five-time major winner Maria Sharapova 6-1, 6-1 on Monday to reach the second round of the US Open.

Serena needed only 59 minutes to rout her Russian rival, improving to 20-2 all-time against Sharapova with her 19th consecutive victory in the rivalry. "Whenever I play her I bring out some of my best tennis," Williams said. "She's such a good player. When you play her you have to be super focused."

Serena, who next plays US wildcard Caty McNally, blasted five aces and 16 winners while Sharapova made 20 unforced errors in the loss at Arthur Ashe Stadium. The American, seeking her seventh US Open title, is chasing the all-time record of 24 Slam singles titles won by Margaret Court.

Maria Sharapova
Russia's Maria Sharapova

'Practice was super intense'

Serena said that once she learned she would face Sharapova in her first match, "every practice after that was super focused and super intense."

Serena broke to open the second set then denied Sharapova on two break points to hold in the fifth game, an impressive backhand winner and a service winner ending the threat. "That was a big point for me," Serena said. "You can't let her get any momentum. I was excited I hit that winner. It was a fun match." Serena broke again to 4-1, rescued three break points in the sixth game to hold serve and broke again to advance, showing no sign of the back spasms that limited her pre-Open play. "The body is good," she said. "My back is a lot better. I'm excited. This is going to be fun."

Sharapova defiant

Meanwhile, Sharapova said she remains confident in her ability to compete with the best despite crushing defeat. "Bottom line is I believe in my ability," said Sharapova. "You can write me off. There are many people that can write me off, especially after going down 6-1, 6-1 in the first round of the US Open. As long as it's not the person that's inside of you, you'll be OK."

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