38-year-old Serena Williams, bidding for her first major title since 2017 and to equal Margaret Court's overall record, lacked rhythm and showed nerves but still proved too good for Kristie Ahn
Former champion Andy Murray battled back from two sets down to overcome Japan's Yoshihito Nishioka 4-6 4-6 7-6(5) 7-6(4) 6-4 on his return to Grand Slam singles action in the U.S. Open first round on Tuesday.
The 33-year-old Briton, playing a singles match at a major for the first time since the 2019 Australian Open, recovered from a break down in the third set and saved a match point in the fourth to beat Nishioka in four hours and 38 minutes.
Serena Williams began her charge towards a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title by getting past fellow American Kristie Ahn 7-5 6-3.
The 38-year-old, bidding for her first major title since 2017 and to equal Margaret Court's overall record, lacked rhythm and showed nerves but still proved too good for Ahn. She will take on Margarita Gasparyan of Russia next.
Joining her in the next round was Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin, who produced a dominant display to dispatch Belgian Yanina Wickmayer 6-2 6-2.
It was the end of the road for twice U.S. Open champion Venus Williams, who suffered her first opening-round loss at the tournament with a 6-3 7-5 defeat by Karolina Muchova.
Three-times champion Kim Clijsters fell at the first hurdle in her second comeback at the tournament, Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova rallying for a 3-6 7-5 6-1 victory.
Third seed Daniil Medvedev, who lost to Rafa Nadal in last year's final, powered past Argentine Federico Delbonis 6-1 6-2 6-4.
Highlights of the second day at the U.S. Open on Tuesday. The Grand Slam is being held in New York without spectators due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
ALEXANDROVA SENDS CLIJSTERS PACKING
Russia's Ekaterina Alexandrova surrendered the opening set to three-times U.S. Open champion Kim Clijsters but rallied to beat the Belgian 3-6 7-5 6-1.
The 21st seed next faces American Catherine McNally, who beat Viktoria Kuzmova 6-4 6-1.
MEDVEDEV TOO GOOD FOR DELBONIS
Last year's runner-up Daniil Medvedev made short work of unseeded Argentine Federico Delbonis, easing to a 6-1 6-2 6-4 victory in their first career meeting.
BERRETTINI, MILLMAN THROUGH
Sixth seed Matteo Berrettini, a semi-finalist at Flushing Meadows last year, overcame a sluggish start to blast past Japan's Go Soeda 7-6(5) 6-1 6-4.
Joining the Italian in the next round is Australia's John Millman, who beat 22nd seed Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-1 6-4 6-4.
STEPHENS CRUISES PAST BUZARNESCU
American Sloane Stephens, the 2017 champion, eased past Mihaela Buzarnescu 6-3 6-3 and into the second round where she will take on Olga Govortsova.
But it was the end of the road for another former champion Venus Williams, who made a slew of errors in a 6-3 7-5 defeat by Karolina Muchova.
SABALENKA EASES INTO ROUND TWO
Fifth seed Aryna Sabalenka recorded 11 aces and 28 winners in a 7-6(1) 6-4 victory over France's Oceane Dodin. Sabalenka will meet fellow Belarusian and former world number one Victoria Azarenka in the second round.
BAUTISTA AGUT, RAONIC POWER INTO SECOND ROUND
Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut recorded his 300th Tour-level victory by beating Tennys Sandgren 6-4 6-4 7-6(3) to reach the second round.
Big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic also moved into the second round with a 6-3 6-2 6-3 over Argentine Leonardo Mayer.
Former world number one Victoria Azarenka, who lifted the Western and Southern Open title last week, made swift progress into the second round with a routine 6-1 6-2 win over Austria's Barbara Haas.
SERENA SWEEPS PAST AHN
Six-times champion Serena Williams began her quest for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title with a 7-5 6-3 victory over fellow American Kristie Ahn.
"I was really happy with how I fought for every point. I just needed to get my Serena-focus back," Williams said.
KEYS PROVES TOO STRONG FOR BABOS
Seventh seed Madison Keys, who finished runner-up in front of her home fans at Flushing Meadows in 2017, booked her spot in the second round with a 6-1 6-1 victory over Hungarian Timea Babos.
MURRAY BATTLES BACK TO BEAT NISHIOKA
Andy Murray battled back from two sets down to beat Japan's Yoshihito Nishioka 4-6 4-6 7-6(5) 7-6(4) 6-4 and reach the second round.
"At the beginning, I was so apprehensive of playing a long match... but when I went two sets down I had to put the after-burners on," said the Briton, on what is his first appearance at a major since the 2019 Australian Open.
Andy Murray rallies from two sets down for an emotional first-round win at U.S. Open https://t.co/nQQaMz7s8g— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) September 2, 2020
KENIN CRUISES INTO SECOND ROUND
Australian Open winner Sofia Kenin, the only reigning Grand Slam champion in the women's draw, eased past Belgian Yanina Wickmayer with a routine 6-2 6-2 victory.
The American second seed sent down 33 winners and five aces in the one-sided contest.
RUSSIAN DUO MARCH INTO ROUND TWO
Russian Andrey Rublev, seeded 10th, made light work of Frenchman Jeremy Chardy in a 6-4 6-4 6-3 victory.
Meanwhile, Rublev's compatriot Karen Khachanov rallied from two sets down to beat Italian Jannik Sinner 3-6 6-7(7) 6-2 6-0 7-6(4).
KONTA OVERPOWERS WATSON IN BATTLE OF BRITS
Ninth seed Johanna Konta saved six set points in the first set against fellow Briton Heather Watson before pulling away to a 7-6(7) 6-1 victory.
THIEM ADVANCES AS MUNAR RETIRES HURT
Second seed Dominic Thiem progressed to the second round after Spain's Jaume Munar retired hurt when trailing 7-6(6) 6-3.
The Austrian will next meet Sumit Nagal, who became the first Indian men's singles player in seven years to make it past the first round of a Grand Slam.
ZHANG DUMPED OUT BY UNHERALDED BONAVENTURE
China's 25th seeded Zhang Shuai has crashed out of the opening round after suffering a shock 4-6 6-3 6-2 defeat by Belgian Ysaline Bonaventure.
MERTENS, ANISIMOVA SAIL THROUGH
Belgium's 16th seeded Elise Mertens converted all her four break point opportunities in a clinical display to beat German Laura Siegemund 6-2 6-2.
American Amanda Anisimova, who reached the French Open semi-finals last year, also eased into the second round with a 7-5 7-5 win over Bulgaria's Viktoriya Tomova.
MUGURUZA FIGHTS BACK TO WIN IN STRAIGHT SETS
Smooth sailing for Garbine Muguruza ⛵️ pic.twitter.com/iBoJCCGMfq— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 1, 2020
Spanish 10th seed Garbine Muguruza, playing her first match since February, beat Japan's Nao Hibino 6-4 6-4 to advance to the second round.
Muguruza started slow but came back from 1-4 down in the opening set, winning seven consecutive games before Hibino got back on the scoreboard. The Japanese saved a match point at 5-3 before Muguruza served out the match.