Back at the site of her greatest victory, Samantha Stosur looked like a champion again, not the player who has often struggled this year.
The Australian began the defense of her U.S. Open title Monday with a dominant win, needing 51 minutes to beat 64th-ranked Petra Martic 6-1, 6-1 in the tournament's first match at Arthur Ashe Stadium before rain suspended play for more than two hours.
"As soon as I got here, it was just a good feeling and excitement to be back to a city that obviously brought me so much last year,'' Stosur said.
The last time Stosur played on this court, she stunned Serena Williams in the 2011 final at Flushing Meadows for her first Grand Slam title. But in so many ways, that 6-2, 6-3 victory was starting to feel as if it happened much more than a year ago.
In 2012, Stosur had lost in the first round in front of the home fans at the Australian Open. She lost in the second round at Wimbledon, then again in the first round at the London Olympics.
Sandwiched in between, she made a run to the semifinals of the French Open, but fell apart by committing 21 unforced errors in the third set of her loss to Sara Errani.
"Today kind of carried on from exactly how I was feeling last year,'' Stosur said. "Hopefully that's a good omen. ... Last year I did feel that comfort out there and nothing bothered me; today was along the same lines.''
Against Martic, who withdrew from the Olympics with a left foot injury, Stosur won the first 19 points, five away from a golden set, before the streak ended on a double-fault.
"It pops into your head and you think, `Oh, that would be cool,''' Stosur said of winning a set without dropping a point.
She was still nearly perfect, with 22 winners and 10 aces. Stosur didn't face any break points.