Perhaps the most telling moment of Monday's opening round match between top-seed Serena Williams and Italian Francesca Schiavone came midway through the second set, between points. Schiavone, ragged from 40 minutes or so of complete annihilation at Williams' hands, sought comfort from a ballboy, and the two shared a long, tender hug.
And then Schiavone continued getting destroyed.
The world's best female player made it look easy -- and kind of boring -- smashing Schiavone 6-0, 6-1 under the lights Monday. Williams looked sharp, dominating from the outset and completely disallowing Schiavone even a sliver of hope.
Though Schiavone looked completely over-matched Monday, she does have two previous victories over Williams to her credit. But the Italian didn't stand a chance Monday -- but eight double faults and 18 unforced errors will doom just about anybody.
Williams, who has lost just four times in her last 64 matches, moves on to play Galina Voskoboeva in the second round.
Venus, too, moves through easily
The Venus Williams of old showed up Monday, as the two-time US Open champion dispatched 12th-seeded Kirsten Flipkens in straight sets, winning 6-1, 6-2 at Flushing Meadows.
Williams, who has never lost an opening-round match at the US Open, came out firing, winning the first four games in impressive fashion. Flipkens hardly seemed awake for the first set at all, making a number of unforced errors.
A few weeks back, however, Williams found herself in a very similar situation with Flipkens after winning the first set in Toronto 6-0. Flipkens, though, came back to win the match in three sets.
It appeared Flipkens was trending toward a repeat of that performance, coming out much more energized in the second set.
At 2-2 in that set, the two battled in a marathon game that went to six deuces. Williams ended up holding serve, and Flipkens looked broken after that, never coming close to taking another game.
Williams will face the winner of Kiki Bertens and Jie Zheng in the second round.
Nadal cruises in opening round win
Let Monday's opening round match serve notice to the rest of the field: Rafael Nadal's knee – the same knee which kept him out of last year's US Open – looked trouble-free, as the No. 2 seed dispatched American Ryan Harrison 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 on Monday afternoon at Flushing Meadows.
Not that Nadal was expected to struggle against Harrison, the Spaniard's sacrificial lamb, but Harrison fought hard in the first set before he wilted against Nadal's powerful left hand. The only relatively trying moment came early on as light rain fell, causing a brief intermission.
But back from the break, Nadal glided around the court, showing no ill effects from the back-to-back titles he recently won in Montreal and Cincinnati.
Overall, Nadal improved to 16-0 on the year on hard courts, advancing to the second round with a tidy two hour and six minute victory. The Spaniard, whose recent Cincinnati victory vaulted him to the No. 2 ranking in the world, is seeking his 12th finals appearance of the 13 tournaments he's entered this year (Wimbledon being the exception).
He awaits the winner of Brazil's Rogerio Dutra Silva or Canada's Vasek Pospisil, but he shouldn't be seriously challenged until a potential quarterfinal matchup against five-time Open champion Roger Federer.