Five-time champions Federer, Serena take centre stage
Roger Federer of Switzerland returns a shot to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France in the final of the Rogers Cup at Rexall Centre in Toronto, Ontario, August 10, 2014. Tsonga defeated Federer 7-5, 7-6. - by Geoff Robins
Federer, seemingly down and out in New York 12 months ago after suffering his earliest loss at the tournament for a decade, begins his 15th US Open as one of the favourites.
The 33-year-old Swiss, bidding to become the oldest major winner in more than 40 years, faces explosive Australian Marinko Matosevic who he beat in their only other previous meeting at Brisbane earlier this year.
Playing in a record 60th consecutive major, Federer boasts a 22-1 record in New York night sessions.
World number one Williams failed to make it past the fourth round at the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon this year.
Only twice in her storied career has she gone through a year without making the quarter-final of at least one of the Grand Slams.
The American star is bidding to join Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova as an 18-time Grand Slam singles champion and she starts her 2014 tournament against compatriot Taylor Townsend, a tough, 18-year-old left-hander who has lost in qualifying in the last two years.
Victory for Williams will give her a 73-9 career record in New York, taking her level with Steffi Graf.
In early action Tuesday, former French Open champion Ana Ivanovic, the eighth seed, eased past Alison Riske of the United States, 6-3, 6-0 in a tie which featured eight breaks of serve in its 15 games.
"I just tried to take time off her in the second set," said Ivanovic, a quarter-finalist in 2012.
Australia's Samantha Stosur, the 2011 champion, went through with a 6-1, 6-4 win over Lauren Davies of the United States.
Another former champion, Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 2004 winner was also trying to make the second round against Marina Erakovic of New Zealand.
China's Zhang Shuai can only dream of the success achieved by the likes of Williams, Ivanovic and Stosur.
The 32nd seed lost 6-1, 6-2 to Germany's Mona Barthel leaving Zhang with a 0-12 career record at the Grand Slams.
British spirits were equally low as interest in the women's singles came to an end with Heather Watson slumping to a 6-1, 6-1 defeat to Romania's Sorana Cirstea.
- Wimbledon finalists in action -
Later Tuesday, third seed Petra Kvitova, with a second Wimbledon title secured in July, starts against French world number 73 Kristina Mladenovic who has enjoyed her own Grand Slam success, albeit with a helping hand.
She won the mixed doubles at Wimbledon in 2013 and this year's French Open with Daniel Nestor.
Canada's seven seed Eugenie Bouchard, the Wimbledon runner-up, looks to shrug off her post-All England Club slump which has brought her just one win, by getting past Olga Govortsova of Belarus.
Bouchard has reached at least the semi-finals at the season's other three majors in 2014.
Former world number one Victoria Azarenka, the runner-up to Serena Williams in the last two years, begins her campaign against Japan's Misaki Doi.
Tuesday will also feature the youngest player in the draw, 15-year-old Catherine Bellis, the world number 1208 from California who faces Australian Open runner-up Dominika Cibulkova, the 12th seed.