NEW YORK — Fifth seed Simona Halep blasted her way into the second round of the US Open Tuesday by demolishing Kirsten Flipkens 6-0, 6-2 underlining her credentials as a potential Grand Slam winner.
Halep, a winner of three WTA Tour events this season, including a hardcourt event in Montreal, carried her superb form into Flushing Meadows as she needed just one hour on a sun-splashed but almost vacant Arthur Ashe Stadium court to dismiss the 56th-ranked Belgian.
Flipkens, a former Grand slam semifinalist who advanced to the last 16 at the Rio Olympics, looks headed to a humiliating double bagel as Halep swept through the opening 11 games.
But with Halep serving for the match Flipkens broke her Romanian opponent before thrusting her arms into the air in mock triumph.
Flipkens would then hold serve for the first time but her late bit of resistance only prolonged the inevitable as Halep closed out the rout to setting up a second-round meeting with Czech Lucie Safarova.
Ana Ivanovic, however, is out in the first round for the second straight year after a 7-6 (4), 6-1 loss to Denisa Allertova of the Czech Republic.
Ivanovic is a former No. 1 player and 2008 French Open winner who has slipped to No. 31 in the rankings.
The Serb was serving for the first set at 6-5 but struggled with her serve and faltered in the tiebreaker. She finished with seven double-faults and 41 unforced errors.
At the Open, she has reached the fourth round or better five times, including a career-best quarterfinal run in 2012.
The 89th-ranked Allertova improved to 7-1 in first-round matches in majors, making her second main-draw appearance at the Open.
Kei Nishikori held off a fightback from Benjamin Becker and earned a 6-1, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 victory over the German veteran for a convincing start to his US Open title bid.
The Japanese sixth seed stormed through the first two sets but the 35-year-old Becker took control in the third before Nishikori righted the ship in time to secure a spot in the second round.
Nishikori, the US Open runner-up in 2014, will next plays qualifier Karen Khachanov, a 6-3, 6-3, 4-6 6-3 winner over Italy’s Thomas Fabbiano.
On Monday, defending champion Novak Djokovic overcame an arm injury scare and long-time rival Rafael Nadal shone in 33-degree heat as the US Open showcased its $650 million upgrade Monday.
World No. 1 Djokovic, also the 2011 winner in New York and chasing his third major of the year, defeated Jerzy Janowicz of Poland 6-3, 5-7, 6-2, 6-1.
Nadal, the 2010 and 2013 champion and seeded to face Djokovic in the semifinals, eased to a 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 win over Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan.
In the women’s event, Roland Garros winner Garbine Muguruza required three sets and a visit from the doctor before she survived.
Djokovic had admitted that he was “not 100 percent” after suffering a wrist injury on the eve of the Olympics where he was a first-round loser.
But it was the upper right arm that bothered the Serb Monday night as he played his first Grand Slam match since his shock third round exit at Wimbledon.
The 29-year-old needed treatment after just five games of the first set but eventually pulled through against Janowicz who had played just two matches all year due to a knee injury.
“It was hard to follow Phil Collins,” joked Djokovic in reference to the lengthy opening ceremony which featured the veteran English rocker under the new $150 million roof on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Djokovic next faces Jiri Vesely, the Czech who knocked him out of Monte Carlo this year.
Nadal’s reward for a fifth win in five meetings with Istomin is a match-up with Italian veteran Andreas Seppi.
Canadian fifth seed Milos Raonic, the runner-up to Andy Murray at Wimbledon, overcame German dangerman Dustin Brown 7-5, 6-4, 6-4.
Muguruza carved out a gritty 2-6, 6-0, 6-3 win over Belgian qualifier Elise Mertens, ranked at 137.
But the French Open champion needed courtside treatment from a doctor after dropping the first set.
Muguruza plays Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia for a place in the last 32.
Among those exiting was Olympic champion Monica Puig with the Puerto Rican losing 6-4, 6-2 to China’s Zheng Saisai.
Kayla Day, just 16 and ranked at a lowly 374 in the world, was 6-2, 4-2 up on Madison Brengle when her fellow American quit with an injury.
Day next faces American eighth seed Madison Keys who beat compatriot Alison Riske 4-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2 in a tie which ended at 1.48am, the latest finish to a women’s match in tournament history.
Flamboyant French 10th seed Gael Monfils took his summer hardcourt record to 15-2 with a 6-4, 6-2, 7-6 win over Gilles Muller of Luxemburg.
Monfils almost suffered a freak accident when a giant courtside clock fell toward him as he collided with the back wall, chasing down a Muller shot.
The Flushing Meadows complex has been radically and expensively remodeled for this year.
However, the old Grandstand court, due to be demolished after the tournament, was pressed into action after the new Court 10 was deemed unplayable.