NEW YORK (AFP) - Photo favourites Eugenie Bouchard and Ana Ivanovic eased into the US Open second round on Tuesday while five-time champions Roger Federer and Serena Williams were set to take centre stage under the Arthur Ashe Stadium lights.
Canadian seventh seed Bouchard, the Wimbledon runner-up, eased past Olga Govortsova of Belarus 6-2, 6-1, slamming the brakes on her post-All England Club slump which had brought her just one win coming into New York. Bouchard is one of four Canadians in the main draw this year, the most since 1989 and is aiming to keep up her record of having made at least the semi-finals at all the majors in 2014.
Former French Open champion Ivanovic, the eighth seed, eased past Alison Riske of the United States, 6-3, 6-0 in a tie which featured eight breaks of serve. It was a performance which suggested the Serb is getting back close to her best in a year which has seen her beat Serena Williams in the Australian Open fourth round, claim three titles and return to the world's top 10 for the first time in five years.
"Last year has been an amazing change for me. I learned a lot about myself, about my goals, who I am as a person and who I want to be," said Ivanovic, a US Open quarter-finalist in 2012.
In early men's action, John Isner, the highest-seeded American at 13 and who is hoping to be his country's first major winner since Andy Roddick at the US Open in 2003, saw off compatriot Marcos Giron 7-6 (7/5), 6-2, 7-6 (7/2). Japanese 10th seed Kei Nishikori, a first round loser in 2013, went through by beating America's Wayne Odesnik 6-2, 6-4, 6-2.
However, the most impressive victory was by 17-year-old Croatian, Borna Coric, the 2013 junior champion, who marked his Grand Slam debut by beating Czech 29th seed Lukas Rosol, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2. Coric, ranked at 204 and who qualified for the tournament, goes on to face 34-year-old Victor Estrella Burgos who is making his US Open debut and is the first player from the Dominican Republic to feature at a major.
Federer, seemingly down and out in New York 12 months ago after suffering his earliest loss at the tournament for a decade, begins his 15th US Open later in the day as one of the favourites. The 33-year-old Swiss, bidding to become the oldest major winner in more than 40 years, faces explosive Australian Marinko Matosevic who he beat in their only other previous meeting at Brisbane earlier this year. Playing in a record 60th consecutive major, Federer boasts a 22-1 record in New York night sessions.
World number one Serena Williams failed to make it past the fourth round at the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon this year. The American is bidding to join Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova as an 18-time Grand Slam singles champion and she starts her 2014 tournament against compatriot Taylor Townsend, a tough, 18-year-old left-hander who has lost in qualifying in the last two years.
Australia's Samantha Stosur, the 2011 champion, went through with a 6-1, 6-4 win over Lauren Davies of the United States, firmly erasing the nightmare of her 2013 first round exit to US teenager Victoria Duval.
However, another former champion, Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 2004 winner was dumped out 3-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7/3) by New Zealand's Marina Erakovic who won her first US Open match at the fifth time of asking.
China's Zhang Shuai can only dream of the success achieved by the likes of Williams, Ivanovic and Stosur. The 32nd seed lost 6-1, 6-2 to Germany's Mona Barthel leaving her with a 0-12 career record at the Grand Slams.
There was a minor psychological victory for 32-year-old Italian Paolo Lorenzi whose win against Japanese qualifier Yoshihito Nishioka was his first at the Grand Slam level after 13 losses.
Later on Tuesday, third seed Petra Kvitova, with a second Wimbledon title secured in July, starts against French world number 73 Kristina Mladenovic who has enjoyed her own Grand Slam success, albeit with a helping hand. She won the mixed doubles at Wimbledon in 2013 and this year's French Open with Daniel Nestor.
Former world number one Victoria Azarenka, the runner-up to Serena Williams in the last two years, begins her campaign against Japan's Misaki Doi.
Tuesday will also feature the youngest player in the draw, 15-year-old Catherine Bellis, the world number 1208 from California who faces Australian Open runner-up Dominika Cibulkova, the 12th seed.