By The New York Times
NEW YORK — With the first storm clouds of the U.S. Open bearing down on the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on Monday, the biggest challenge for defending champion Samantha Stosur of Australia was whether she could polish off Petra Martic of Croatia before the raindrops arrived.
The answer was a definitive yes. Stosur, seeded seventh, took 51 minutes to put the final touches on a 6-1, 6-1 victory at Arthur Ashe Stadium, site of her only Grand Slam tournament title. Her reward this year was to kick off the first round and beat the weather, which halted play for several hours after Stosur was safely off the court.
"I was really looking forward to getting this year's tournament started," Stosur said after the match. "Last year was the highlight of my career, so it's really nice to come back to a place where I feel so comfortable."
Andy Murray of Britain had to wait through the rain delay, a U.S. Open tradition these days, to play Alex Bogomolov Jr. But Murray motored through his first-round match with urgency similar to Stosur's.
The Olympic champion was not sharp in the opening games of the match, but he soon became comfortable, demolishing Bogomolov 6-2, 6-4, 6-1.
"I thought it was a six or seven out of 10," Murray said of his performance. "I didn't serve particularly well at the beginning of the match, but I won in three sets against a tough player and that's what I needed to do."
Bogomolov, a former American player who competes for Russia, could not make much of early service breaks against Murray in the first two sets. Eventually, Murray overpowered him with deep, angled shots Bogomolov could only watch helplessly.
Stosur had a chance at a perfect first set. Martic did not win a point until the fifth game as Stosur raced to a 5-0 lead. Martic had not played since Wimbledon because of injury. She served well and accurately but managed seven winners to Stosur's 22.
"I think it was a really good start," Stosur said. "I thought I served really well. There isn't really anything that I'd say I have to go out on the practice court and work on."
Russian Maria Sharapova kept the schedule at Arthur Ashe Stadium running as smoothly as possible after the rain delay.
Sharapova, who won this year's French Open to complete a career Grand Slam, defeated Melinda Czink of Hungary 6-2, 6-2. The match took 1 hour, 7 minutes, which left Sharapova enough time to wave to fans with some daylight remaining.
In evening matches, three-time U.S. Open champion Kim Clijsters, 29, beat 16-year-old American Victoria Duval 6-3, 6-1 and Roger Federer of Switzerland defeated American Donald Young 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.
Belgian Clijsters extended her career — she has said this is her final tournament.
Clijsters missed last year's U.S. Open because of an abdominal injury.
"It was very disappointing for me last year to not defend my title," said Clijsters, who has won the two previous years she has competed at the event. "It's an honor to be playing in front of this crowd this year."