US Open PIX: Swiatek crushes Peterson; Sakkari crashes out

World number one Iga Swiatek got her US Open title defence off to a dominant start on Monday, flattening unseeded Swede Rebecca Peterson 6-0 6-1 to kick off the action on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The four-time Grand Slam champion fired off 20 winners and four aces to set up a second-round meeting with Australian Daria Saville.

Swiatek said that her tank was “pretty empty” after losing in the Montreal and Cincinnati semi-finals earlier this month but showed no lack of vigour as she opened her US Open campaign with an ace and blazed through the first set.

The Polish player showed only brief signs of vulnerability early in the second set, as she began to accrue more unforced errors and had to claw her way back from triple break point in the first game.

But she reminded the crowd at Flushing Meadows why she has been the world number one since April 2022 as she whacked across an unreturnable backhand shot to break Peterson to love in the fourth game, amid a 10-point winning streak.

Peterson, who only produced two winners across the match, never regained her composure and Swiatek pumped her first after closing out the match with a scorching backhand down the line.

“I really wanted to play solid and start (the) tournament with everything that I focused on (in practice),” she said in on-court remarks.

“I just feel happy that with all the pressure and expectations I can just have fun on court.”

Swiatek was having fun off the court too, taking in the “Lion King” musical to keep up her tradition of seeing a Broadway show during every trip to the year’s final major. 

Sakkari stunned by Masarova

Greek eighth seed Maria Sakkari crashed out of the US Open in the first round following a 6-4 6-4 defeat at the hands of Spaniard Rebeka Masarova on Monday.

World number 71 Masarova converted all three break point opportunities she had during the 87-minute encounter to secure her first career win over a top-10 player.

Sakkari had control as she consolidated an early break for a 4-1 lead but Masarova stormed back and won the next five games to wrap up the opening set.

In the second set, Masarova again consolidated a break for a 5-3 cushion and then, after Sakkari held serve to stay alive, closed out the encounter on her second match point with a backhand winner that dropped just inside the corner.

With the loss, Sakkari became the first seeded casualty of the U. Open.

For Sakkari, the defeat marked the final blow in a disappointing Grand Slam year for her as she followed a third-round appearance at the Australian Open with first-round exits at the French Open, Wimbledon and now the US Open.

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