Top seeds in a hurry on day of U.S. Open upsets
By Steve Keating
NEW YORK (Reuters) - World number ones Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic launched their U.S. Open title bids in ruthless style on Monday, while Kei Nishikori's hopes of making another magical run to the final came to a shuddering halt.
Opening day at Flushing Meadows produced plenty of shock and awe as Djokovic delivered a jaw-dropping performance, speeding past Joao Souza of Brazil 6-1 6-1 6-1 as if the Serb had a taxi meter running outside the National Tennis Center.
Williams also played as if she had an appointment to keep as she began her final push toward a calendar year Grand Slam by pounding Vitalia Diatchenko 6-0 2-0 before the ailing Russian waved the white flag and retired injured.
Eighth seed Rafa Nadal, a two-time U.S. Open champion, needed a bit more time to get the job done, the Spaniard taking nearly three hours to fight off a challenge from 18-year-old Croatian prospect Borna Coric 6-3 6-2 4-6 6-4.
Following a Broadway-style opening ceremony complete with orchestra and choir, Williams stepped onto center court under a spotlight to loud applause from an adoring New York crowd just seven matches from her quest to sweep this season's slams.
The six-time champion would exit Arthur Ashe Stadium just 30 minutes later to more applause and her target reduced to six more wins to join the exclusive club of calendar Grand Slam winners Maureen Connolly, Margaret Court and Steffi Graf.
"It's been really amazing, I can feel the support and the love on my journey for this milestone," said Williams, who won the first of her 21 majors at Flushing Meadows 16 years ago.
"I'm so ready. Whatever happens I'm here, I'm at home where it all began in 1999, so this is incredible for me to still be here and playing well. Continued...