Number one seed Karolina Pliskova dropped serve in her first game at this year’s US Open but recovered to dispatch Anhelina Kalinina.
The world number three, promoted to top billing following the withdrawals of Ashleigh Barty and Simona Halep, won 6-4 6-0 in just over an hour inside the vast, empty, Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The tournament in New York is being played behind closed doors with just a handful of support staff in attendance.
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) August 31, 2020
The 28-year-old Czech, beaten early on at last week’s Western & Southern Open, said: “I felt better than in my previous match last week. I think the centre court is better place to play.
“I mean, it’s still without people, but I just felt somehow a little better. And I had a lot of practice on this court, so I felt just quite used to it.
“Also, just to play without people, I think that even though I just had one match without people, I thought it helped me just to know how it feels.
“I still have my team. I mean, it’s super huge and it still feels super empty, but I feel like there is at least the player boxes where they stay, so I felt like there were at least couple people watching there.”
With six of the women’s top 10 missing the tournament due to coronavirus concerns, Pliskova will surely not have a better chance of going one better than her final appearance in 2016 and claiming a first grand slam title.
She will face Caroline Garcia of France in the next round.
Two former Wimbledon champions, Angelique Kerber and Petra Kvitova, also reached the second round with little fuss.
Kerber, the 2018 winner at SW19, beat Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia, the German 17th seed prevailing 6-4 6-4.
Two-time Wimbledon champ Kvitova came through against Irina-Camelia Begu, the sixth seed winning 6-3 6-2.
But there will be no repeat of last year’s run to the third round for 16-year-old Coco Gauff.
The American bowed out at the first hurdle, going down 6-3 5-7 6-4 to Latvian 31st seed Anastasija Sevastova.