NEW YORK // Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams made an ominous return to the US Open on Monday night as the last grand slam of the year got underway.
Roared on by the energetic Flushing Meadows crowds, the two players turned on a masterclass of power hitting at Arthur Ashe Stadium before New York's fickle weather brought proceedings to an early end.
A late rain shower forced tournament organisers to abandon the opening day's play before Roger Federer, the former world No 1, was about start his match against Slovenia's Grega Zemlja.
Nadal, who missed last year's US Open because of a chronic knee problem, demonstrated his intentions to make up for lost time as he demolished American wildcard Ryan Harrison 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 during the day session.
Bouncing around the unforgiving hardcourt like a kangaroo, the Spaniard chalked up 28 winners despite the blustery conditions at the US National Tennis Center.
"For me, the chance to be back here playing is great," said Nadal. "The first match after two years in the Arthur Ashe is a great feeling."
Williams needed just one hour to remind everyone why she remains the overwhelming favourite to win the women's title as she demolished Italy's Francesca Schiavone 6-0, 6-1.
The American showed no mercy against her opponent, who won the French Open in 2010 and was a finalist in Paris the following year, conceding just 23 points in the 60-minute romp.
"I knew playing a former grand slam champion in the first round was a really tough draw so I decided to be super serious," she said.
Russia's Alisa Kleybanova made an emotional return to the grand slam circuit, more than two and a half years after she was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, a form of blood cancer.
The now 24 year old underwent chemotherapy through most of 2011 and after beating the disease she decided on a comeback.
"All those things are over for me now," she said after defeating Puerto Rico's Monica Puig 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 .
"I went through them. I came out as a winner in that battle."
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