NEW YORK: Four-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova advanced to the second round of the U.S. Open with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Melinda Czink on Monday.
The third-seeded Russian needed just 67 minutes to beat the 88th-ranked Hungarian left-hander.
Sharapova won the French Open to complete the career Grand Slam and an Olympic silver medal this year but pulled out of hard-court warm-up tournaments in Montreal and Cincinnati because of illness.
Sharapova had 24 winners to eight for Czink, who has reached the third round of a major tournament three times.
In other action, Kim Clijsters began the last tournament of her career by winning her 22nd consecutive U.S. Open match.
Clijsters beat 16-year-old American wild card Victoria Duval 6-3, 6-1 in the first round Monday night.
Clijsters has left Flushing Meadows with the title each of the last three times she played — in 2005, 2009 and 2010. She missed the Grand Slam tournament in 2011 because of an injured stomach muscle.
The 29-year-old Belgian is retiring after this year’s U.S. Open.
In men’s action, James Blake was the veteran proving he still has it at age 32, while 19-year-old Jack Sock was the up-and-coming kid from the United States.
Both needed wild cards to get in, and both took advantage with first-round wins Monday.
“Now I’m getting it from everyone,” Blake said. “I deserve it, because if I dish it out, I’ve got to be able to take it. I’m getting the old jokes, the grandpa jokes, and I’m OK with that.”
Blake reached the second round of a Grand Slam event for the first time this year, beating 54th-ranked Lukas Lacko 7-5, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3. He hasn’t lost in the first round at Flushing Meadows since his debut in 1999.
Sock was leading 6-3, 6-2, 3-2 when 22nd-seeded Florian Mayer retired because he felt faint and dizzy. It was the first win over a top 50 player for Sock, who came in ranked a career-best 248th in the world. He missed four months this season because of elbow surgery.
Sock won his first-round match at the Open for the second straight year. In 2010, he won the boys championship at Flushing Meadows, the first American to do so since Andy Roddick 10 years earlier.
“I think for some reason here in New York at the Open, the last couple years I played here, I played well here overall, pretty consistently,” he said. “I always served pretty well.”
For American Tim Smyczek, seeing his draw brought mixed feelings. The 179th-ranked qualifier easily could have faced one of the world’s top players in the first round. Instead, he found himself matched up against another qualifier as he sought his first Grand Slam victory.
But that opponent was a good friend, fellow American Bobby Reynolds. The 24-year-old Smyczek played a five-set match for the first time in his career Monday against Reynolds, winning 1-6, 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 over 3 hours, 33 minutes.