NEW YORK, NY, USA - No.3 seeds Andrea Sestini-Hlavackova and Barbora Strycova kicked off their US Open campaign with a strong win over American wildcard duo Allie Kiick and Jamie Loeb, 6-1, 7-5.
“We have never played them so we didn’t know really what to expect, but they obviously didn’t have anything to lose,” Strycova said afterwards. “Sometimes they played balls where I was like, ‘Oh, we have to watch out - they can play very good.’ And they did, the whole match.
“We had to really play the best tennis we could because Loeb and Kiick were really tough opponents. But we were serving very well, and we were also mixing the game a lot - this was the key, I think.”
Despite the one-sided scoreline, the opening set was a tough battle with five of the seven games going to deuce or break point. The No.3 seeds were able to raise their level at those key moments to fight off two break points and reply with three consecutive breaks of serve to comfortably close out the set.
But things got complicated for the Czech team in the second, trading breaks twice - one of the breaks coming as Sestini-Hlavackova served for the match at 5-3. The No.3 seeds didn’t panic, and they notched another break to end the match after an hour and 15 minutes.
Last week in New Haven, Sestini-Hlavackova and Strycova claimed their first title of the year as a pairing - an important moment for the relatively young team who have seen much individual success in the past with different partners.
“It was a great week in New Haven, and we worked on a lot of stuff there,” Strycova said. “We’re still improving on it and we’re also working a lot to build on that confidence. We beat some good teams in New Haven, which is really important coming into the US Open.
“We didn’t play much before [partnering together], and then we played like six tournaments. So you still have to work on small stuff, little things in some points. Small things, tactic-wise.”
Also into the second round, the resurgent team of Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova also came through in a tough battle to defeat Zarina Diyas and Zheng Saisai, 6-3, 7-6(5). No.4 seeds Gabriela Dabrowski and Xu Yifan also scored a 6-2, 6-7(5), 6-1 win over Lara Arruabarrena and Renata Voracova, and No.13 seeds Ashleigh Barty and CoCo Vandeweghe eased past Wang Qiang and Wang Yafan 6-3, 6-0.
Victoria Azarenka paired with Chan Yung-Jan (Latisha) to take down Ana Bogdan and Yulia Putintseva, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, while No.9 seeds Kiki Bertens and Johanna Larsson defeated Kaia Kanepi and Andrea Petkovic 6-2, 6-4. No.6 seeds Lucie Hradecka and Ekaterina Makarova also scored a win over Rebecca Peterson and Kaitlyn Christian, 6-2, 6-3.