Karolina Pliskova led a day of dominance for seeded players as the underdogs failed to bite at the US Open on Monday.
Top seed Pliskova shrugged off the surreal setting of an empty arena at Arthur Ashe Stadium to breeze past Ukraine’s Anhelina Kalinina 6-4, 6-0 in 1hr 3min.
Pliskova’s brisk victory set the tone for the remainder of the opening day in the women’s draw, where 15 of the 16 seeds in action progressed safely.
World number three Pliskova, elevated to top seed in the absence of world number one Ashleigh Barty and second-ranked Simona Halep, faces France’s Caroline Garcia in the second round.
“I felt better than in my previous match, last week,” the Czech star said.
“I think the center court is better place to play no matter – I mean, it’s still without people, but I just felt somehow a little better.
Fourth seed Naomi Osaka meanwhile proved her fitness in a gruelling 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 win over Japanese compatriot Misaki Doi.
Osaka, 22, had withdrawn from Saturday’s Western & Southern Open final with a hamstring problem, but did not appear to be hampered by the injury during her three-set win in just over two hours.
Osaka, the 2018 US Open champion, arrived on court wearing a face mask bearing the name of Breonna Taylor, the African-American nurse who was shot by US police in her apartment in Kentucky in March.
With the draw going largely to form, Coco Gauff’s hopes of launching another giant-killing run were halted in their tracks after a 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 loss to Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova.
The 16-year-old from Florida delighted fans at Wimbledon last year by advancing to the fourth round as a qualifier but was unable to take her chances as slid to defeat against her 31st-seeded opponent.
Gauff said her development this year had been hampered by lack of tournament match practice following a season which was decimated by the coronavirus shutdown.
“That’s what I need on tour. I’m playing against people older than me who have been in more situations, difficult situations, than I have,” Gauff said.
“I think the biggest thing is I just need experience.”
Elsewhere Monday, sixth seed Petra Kvitova also advanced safely, downing Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu 6-3, 6-2.
The 30-year-old two-time Wimbledon champion said she was adjusting to the empty stands, as well as tournament regulations which prevent players from sightseeing in the city.
“It’s been different, for sure,” Kvitova said. “I’m glad that I had a couple of matches before to kind of get used to these new things.