Kevin Anderson of South Africa returns a shot from American JC Aragone during the first round of the US Open on Monday. Photo: Frank Franklin II, AP

JOHANNESBURG – South Africa’s Kevin Anderson beat American JC Aragone in straight sets in the first round of the US Open at Flushing Meadows in New York on Monday.

Anderson, seeded 28th, needed just one hour and 43 minutes to overcome his unseeded opponent 6-3 6-3 6-1.

The 2.03m Anderson boasted a typically powerful service game, winning a staggering 87 percent of points on his first serve in the match. He also sent down 22 aces, to the four managed by Aragone.

The 31-year-old Anderson averaged 198km per hour on his first serve, with his fastest delivery clocked at a scorching 212km/h. 

Anderson will play the winner of Alessandro Giannessi of Italy and Latvian Ernests Gulbis in the second round.

A mostly healthy Anderson has boasted improved form this season moving to 32 in the ATP rankings, after battling much of 2016 with injury. The SA player made it to the quarter-finals of the Canadian Open recently before being eliminated.

It was then on to his first final in two years at the Citi Open, where he lost to Germany’s Alexander Zverev for the title in the first week of August. 

Anderson is again heading in the right direction of the rankings, helped in part by also making the last-16 at Wimbledon in July, after dropping to 80th in January after battling with injury last season.

The big-serving Anderson reached a career high of 10th in the ATP singles rankings in October 2015. 

Fifth seed and 2014 champion Marin Cilic reached the second round on Monday with a 6-4 6-3 3-6 6-3 win over America’s Tennys Sandgren.

Cilic, playing his first match since losing the Wimbledon final to Roger Federer, will face Germany’s Florian Mayer for a place in the last-32.

In the women’s draw, reigning Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza was excited to reach the second round.

Spanish third seed Muguruza matched her best showing on the New York hardcourts in five tries by defeating American Varvara Lepchenko 6-0 6-3 for her first triumph in Arthur Ashe Stadium, which celebrated its 20th anniversary.

“Very happy I’m in the second round,” said Muguruza. “I’ve been here so many times, and I’ve never done very well. I will try again and hopefully it will happen.”

African News Agency (ANA), AFP