Rafael Nadal got his US Open title defence off to a rocky start on Tuesday but found plenty to be pleased about after a tough straight-sets victory over 98th-ranked Andrey Golubev.
Nadal, who admitted being nervous on his return to the Arthur Ashe stadium where he completed a career grand slam last season, saved seven set points in the second set and came back from two breaks down in the third.
“It’s a positive start, winning in straight sets – even if it was unbelievable that I won straight sets,” Nadal said.
He finally wrapped up victory after two hours and 49 minutes, taking a first step towards what many tennis fans hope will be a final with Serbia’s Novak Djokovic.
Meanwhile Djokovic, who has seized the world No.1 ranking with two grand slam victories and nine titles overall this season, eased into the second round when qualifier Conor Niland retired from their match with food poisoning.
Djokovic led 6-0 5-1 at the time, and in 44 minutes had fired an array of service winners and baseline bombs that showed his right shoulder, which forced him out of the final in Cincinnati this month, was no longer a problem.
French Open champion Li Na was the biggest casualty of the day, the sixth-seeded Chinese hope stunned by Romanian teenager Simona Halep.
Halep, ranked 53 in the world, triumphed 6-2 7-5 to hand Li her second straight grand slam disappointment – after a second-round exit at Wimbledon.
Australian Open champ Kim Clijsters, winner of the last two US Opens, is absent with a stomach muscle injury. Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova lost on Monday.
World No.1 and top seed Wozniacki defeated 125th-ranked Nuria Llagostera Vives of Spain 6-3 6-1.
Williams, seeded 28th after her near year-long layoff, took less than an hour to dispatch 54th-ranked Serbian Bojana Jovanovski 6-1 6-1.
While Williams is trying to claim a 14th grand slam title – and her first since Wimbledon 2010 – Wozniacki is trying to earn a first.
Fourth-seeded Victoria Azarenka of Belarus also advanced with ease, beating Sweden’s Johanna Larsson 6-1 6-3.