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 semifinals earlier this month, but she showed no lack of vigor 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 No. 1 since April 2022 as she hit 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.”
Also Monday, No. 8 seed Maria Sakkari crashed out of the US Open following a 6-4, 6-4 defeat at the hands of Rebeka Masarova.
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.
Saville broke 17-year-old Ngounoue seven times, never faced a single break point on her own serve and finished with 16 winners and just 13 unforced errors for the match.
“I was very composed,” Saville said after notching her first win at Flushing Meadows in five years.
“When the day started I was pretty relaxed. I don’t know why – it doesn’t really happen on day one of a grand slam.
“Warming up before the match I was like ‘umm, this feels like just a normal match’ and that felt nice and I think that is why I played well.”
Playing the Open on an injury-protected ranking after being sidelined for more than eight months, Saville knows she will need to find another level against Swiatek on Thursday (AEST).
“Well, the biggest goal is not to get double bagelled,” she said.
“I am excited. Hopefully we’ll get to play on the big court. When I was coming back from injuries that was like the goal – get to play on all the bigger courts at every slam and hopefully that will be ticked off.
“I think I can still make her life very uncomfortable. I will just play free and see what happens.
“Forehand is my weapon and, when it’s working, this is when I am dangerous.
“Obviously I have to move well to get to use my forehand but today I also served pretty well, hit my spots well. It is part of my game hunting forehands.”
While Saville and Hijikata rolled on, fellow Australians Kim Birrell and wildcard Storm Hunter bowed out in the first round.
Birrell, a qualifying lucky loser, battled hard in a 6-3 7-6 (7-4) loss to 2021 Australian Open finalist Jennifer Brady, while Hunter succumbed 6-4 6-0 to Czech 10th seed Karolina Muchova, the 2023 French Open runner-up.
154th-ranked Nava, a qualifier at Flushing Meadows this year and a boys’ singles runner-up at the Open in 2019, was on the front foot for much of the contest, striking 72 winners to just 27 for Ruud, but he didn’t rise to the challenge on the biggest moments in sets one and three as Ruud took control of the contest.
Ruud broke for a two sets to one lead when Nava tossed in a shaky service game while serving at 4-5, and not long after the Norwegian slashed a backhand winner down the line to break for 4-2 in the fourth set.
Nava broke back and forced things to a fourth-set tiebreak, but Ruud delivered an epic lob winner, which soared over the head of a leaping Nava with the American serving at 4-5 in the tiebreak, to set up two match points.
The burgeoning rivalry between Alcaraz and Djokovic is an absolute thrill. They have played four times, and each has won twice. They’re 1-1 at Slams. Three of their matches were outright classics, and the fourth a four-set win for Djokovic in the French Open semis was on its way to being just as good before Alcaraz’s body let him down. If we omit the last two sets of that match, when Alcaraz could hardly move, they’ve played 1,003 points against each other. Alcaraz has won 502, Djokovic 501. You can’t get closer than that.
The difference between them heading into this tournament might simply be that Djokovic is less likely to slip up before a potential meeting in the final. For one thing, Alcaraz’s draw is trickier, with young rival Jannik Sinner (quarterfinals) and 2021 champion Medvedev (semis) potentially in the way. For another, Alcaraz’s attention span has waned this summer. Since winning Wimbledon, he’s played eight matches. He dropped the opening set four times and lost twice (once to Djokovic, once to Tommy Paul), and of his six wins, five went the distance. He responds well to adversity, but he’s created a bit too much for himself of late.
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