Former World No. 1 Maria Sharapova made a triumphant return to grand slam tennis after upstaging second seed Simona Halep in the first round of the US Open.
Sharapova walked onto Arthur Ashe for her first slam match since testing positive for a banned substance at the 2016 Australian Open and won 6-4 4-6 6-3 after almost three hours on Monday.
The five-time major champion made her return from a 15-month ban for violating anti-doping rules in April, but was denied a wildcard for the French Open and then pulled out of Wimbledon qualifying through injury.
When World No. 146 Sharapova did return at Flushing Meadows as a wildcard this week, she brought an intensity and aggression to her match that proved too hot to handle for Halep.
Sharapova, winner of the US Open in 2006 was greeted with a loud ovation as she made her first appearance at Flushing Meadows since 2014.
As expected, there was some rustiness on Sharapova’s racket but the 30-year-old showed why she is still one of the best in the sport.
Halep, runner up at Roland Garros and the Cincinnati Masters was one of eight players in contention for the WTA’s top ranking.
Yesterday’s match up was the seventh time both players would come up against each other with Sharapova winning all.
Two-time champion Venus Williams was pushed all the way by World No. 135 Viktoria Kuzmova before reaching the second round of the US Open.
The 37-year-old American took her second match point on teenager Kuzmova’s serve to win 6-3 3-6 6-2.
Williams has seven Grand Slam singles titles, while Kuzmova was making her main draw debut at tour level.
“I didn’t do a lot wrong, she just stepped it up,” said Williams, who is aiming for her first major since 2008 and plays France’s Oceane Dodin on Wednesday.
This was her 19th appearance in the competion, more than any other player currently in the competition (She has won all of her opening games at the US Open).
Other key results from yesterday’s action:
Marin Cilic defeated Tennys Sandgren, 6-4, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga defeated Marius Copil, 6-3, 6-3, 6-4
John Isner defeated Pierre-Hugues Herbert, 6-1, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3
Pablo Carreno Busta defeated Evan King, 6-3, 6-2, 7-6(5)
Mikhail Kukushkin defeated David Ferrer, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-1
Yen-Hsun Lu defeated Karen Khachanov, 4-6, 62, 6-3, 6-3
Kevin Anderson defeated JC Aragone, 6-3, 6-3, 6-1
Diego Schwartzman defeated Carlos Berlocq, 6-2, 6-1, 6-3
Kyle Edmund defeated Robin Haase, 6-3, 7-5, 6-3
Garbine Muguruza defeated Varvara Lepchenko, 6-0, 6-3
Aleksandra Krunic defeated Johanna Konta, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4
Venus Williams defeated Viktoria Kuzmova, 6-3, 3-6, 6-2
Petra Kvitova defeated Jelena Jankovic, 7-5, 7-5
Anastasija Sevastova defeated Carina Witthoeft, 7-5, 6-1
Caroline Garcia defeated Tereza Martincova, 6-0, 6-1
Maria Sakkari defeated Kiki Bertens, 6-3, 6-4
Julia Georges defeated Annika Beck, 6-1, 6-0
Magdalena Rybarikova defeated Camila Giorgi, 6-3, 6-4
Sofia Kenin defeated Lauren Davis, 7-5, 7-5