No problems for Clijsters
Azarenka and Sharapova also progress
Last Updated: August 28, 2012 6:04pm
Kim Clijsters ensured her final professional tournament will extend into the second round at least after a convincing 6-3 6-1 win over Victoria Duval at the US Open.
The Belgian is a three-time champion at Flushing Meadows and she comfortably brushed aside 16-year-old wild card Duval, the youngest player in the draw.
Clijsters, who had announced earlier this year that she would retire after this event, next faces 18-year-old Laura Robson, who saw off fellow teenager Samantha Crawford 6-3 7-6 (8/6).
Top seed Victoria Azarenka enjoyed the simplest of victories in the opening round.
The Australian Open champion dropped just one game in thrashing Russia's Alexandra Panova 6-0 6-1 on the Louis Armstrong court at Flushing Meadows.
The world No.1 from Belarus won the opening nine games, with Panova claiming just five points in the entire first set.
A break of serve finally got Panova on the scoreboard and prevented a whitewash or 'double bagel', but that was simply delaying the inevitable and Azarenka took the next three games to seal a comprehensive success.
The 2006 champion Maria Sharapova is through to the second round after a comprehensive 6-2 6-2 defeat of Melinda Czink.
The third seed had never faced the Hungarian before but the world No.88 rarely caused her problems and the Russian won through in 67 minutes to set up a meeting with Spain's Lourdes Dominguez Lino.
Sharapova took control of the first set when she secured the first break of the match in game five and she went on to reel off the next three games, sealing the set with one of her five aces.
And she went on to make it eight games in a row, breaking twice more to power into a 3-0 lead in set two, before Czink managed to stop the rot with a break of her own.
However, she continued to struggle on her own delivery and Sharapova claimed yet another break before serving out the match.
The four-time Grand Slam winner, who missed warm-up tournaments in Montreal and Cincinnati because of illness, finished with 24 winners to just eight for Czink.
Sharapova said: "I was just happy to be back playing a competitive match. It's been a few weeks. It was a nice break in a way but, after so many weeks of practising, you're just eager to get back on the court.
"The tournament almost seems a little bit easier because the practice is a little bit shorter getting ready to play matches. It's so much better than having practice weeks.
"But I was happy with the way I came out. I'd never played my opponent before. Conditions weren't exactly perfect. Overall I played steady, but there's room for improvement, that's for sure."