Defending champion Kim Clijsters struggled tofind her footing on a windy day before recovering in time to winher 15th straight match at the U.S. Open.
The second-seeded Belgian beat Hungary's Greta Arn 6-0, 7-5 inthe first round Monday. She fell behind 4-0 in the second set, andthe 104th-ranked Arn had a chance to serve out the set at 5-4. ButClijsters got the break, then did it again to clinch thestraight-set victory.
"I'm just glad to finish that second set off and not let it gothree sets," she said.
Clijsters said she had some trouble adjusting her strokes whenshe was playing with or against the wind. What wasn't troubling hermuch was the left hip that bothered her during a tuneup tournamentearlier this month.
A year ago, Clijsters was a wild-card entry in only her thirdtournament back after 2½ years away from the sport. Now she's oneof the favorites to win the Open.
Melanie Oudin and Francesca Schiavone also know how quicklyperceptions can change. Oudin struggled with higher expectationssince her crowd-pleasing run to the U.S. Open quarterfinals lastyear. So did Schiavone after her breakthrough French Open title inJune.
But neither showed any signs of the pressure in cruising todominant first-round wins.
Oudin, the 18-year-old from Marietta, Ga., needed just 56minutes to beat Olga Savchuk of Ukraine 6-3, 6-0. Schiavone, theItalian who won her first Grand Slam weeks before her 30thbirthday, dispatched Ayumi Morita of Japan 6-1, 6-0 in 58 minutes.
If anything, Schiavone seems to be having fun in the spotlight.Asked why she's a fan favorite, she playfully replied, "I attractthem because I'm beautiful."
Schiavone acknowledged that maybe she's a bit more motivated ata Grand Slam than at other tournaments. She was pleased that herfirst-round match was in the grandstand - a year ago, she wasrelegated to an outer court.
"I like to do it, because adrenaline is coming up and I enjoymuch more than play in faraway court," she said with a laugh."Maybe because I am 30 years old and now I want to enjoy withpeople."
Five-time winner Roger Federer was one of four past U.S. Openchampions scheduled to play in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Monday, alongwith Andy Roddick, Venus Williams and Clijsters. Another previouswinner, Lleyton Hewitt, was slated to be in Louis ArmstrongStadium.
Also in action on Day 1 were former No. 1s Dinara Safina and AnaIvanovic, as well as Sam Stosur, who lost to Schiavone in theFrench Open final.
The 43rd-ranked Oudin won the last nine games against Savchuk, a143rd-ranked qualifier. Oudin's success last year earned her theopening match in Ashe, where the sparse crowd gave her a warmovation when she took the court a little after 11 a.m.
Oudin snapped a four-match losing streak and won for only thefifth time in her past 18 matches. A year ago, she became thedarling of the tournament, upsetting Maria Sharapova and ElenaDementieva en route to becoming the youngest U.S. Openquarterfinalist since Serena Williams in 1999.
Schiavone, seeded No. 6, had been just 3-6 since winning atRoland Garros. She lost in the first round at Wimbledon and droppedher opening match at three other tournaments. Her only threevictories came against opponents outside the top 65.
Schiavone had no difficulty against the 83rd-ranked Morita,facing just one break point and hitting 28 winners.
Russia's Dementieva, the No. 12 seed, also advanced easily,beating Olga Govortsova of Belarus 6-1, 6-2.
Fellow Russian Nikolay Davydenko, the No. 6 seed on the men'sside, beat American Michael Russell 6-4, 6-1, 6-3. No. 11 MarinCilic and No. 22 Juan Carlos Ferrero also advanced.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times