Serena Williams in a hurry at U.S. Open

Serena Williams only lost one game at the U.S. Open on Thursday against Vania King.

Story highlights

  • Serena Williams crushes Vania King at the U.S. Open on Thursday
  • Williams loses just one game in the 56-minute second-round rout in New York
  • The U.S. Open is Williams' last opportunity to win a major this year
  • Her chances improved after Ana Ivanovic was upset in straight sets

For the serious contenders at grand slams, it's all about trying to advance with minimal fuss in the first week. That way they have plenty of energy left for when the competition picks up in the second week.

Serena Williams certainly isn't messing around in the early stages of this year's U.S. Open.

After crushing Taylor Townsend -- a potentially tricky opponent -- in the first round in 55 minutes, Williams routed another fellow American, Vania King, 6-1 6-0 in 56 minutes Thursday to reach the third round.

Men's No. 1 Novak Djokovic made quick work of his opponent, too, dispatching Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-1 6-3 6-0.

This grand slam is big for Williams.

Even though she has won 17 majors, none have come in 2014 and she didn't progress to the quarterfinals at the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon.

But New York could once again bring Williams joy -- she is the two-time defending champion.

The top seed's only problems against King came in her first service game, when Williams hit three double faults in windy conditions.

Serena Williams drops out of Wimbledon
Serena Williams drops out of Wimbledon

    JUST WATCHED

    Serena Williams drops out of Wimbledon

MUST WATCH

Serena Williams drops out of Wimbledon 02:36
PLAY VIDEO
Serena defends French Open title
Serena defends French Open title

    JUST WATCHED

    Serena defends French Open title

MUST WATCH

Serena defends French Open title 01:37
PLAY VIDEO
French Open outsider's meteoric rise
French Open outsider's meteoric rise

    JUST WATCHED

    French Open outsider's meteoric rise

MUST WATCH

French Open outsider's meteoric rise 01:10
PLAY VIDEO
Becker: Reaction to coaching job surprised me
Becker: Reaction to coaching job surprised me

    JUST WATCHED

    Becker: Reaction to coaching job surprised me

MUST WATCH

Becker: Reaction to coaching job surprised me 08:01
PLAY VIDEO

Williams' path to the final got a little easier when Ana Ivanovic was upset by big-serving Czech Karolina Pliskova 7-5 6-4 and Samantha Stosur -- who defeated Williams in the 2011 final -- blew match points and lost to Estonia's Kaia Kanepi in a third-set tiebreak. Ivanovic and Stosur were in Williams' quarter.

Just how potent is Pliskova's serve? She trailed only Williams in aces heading into the tournament.

Still, it marks more grand slam disappointment for Ivanovic, the eighth seed and a former No. 1.

Despite occupying the final spot in the race for the year-end championships, Ivanovic crashed out early at Roland Garros, Wimbledon and now the U.S. Open.

"I do put a lot of expectations on myself," Ivanovic told reporters. "I tried to overanalyze and overthink instead of just playing the game.

"It's a work in process. But I think I have potential to do well" at grand slams "and that's something I want to change for next year."

Almost forgotten this year is Victoria Azarenka, since she's missed most of 2014 with a foot injury and this month dealt with a knee complaint.

The two-time finalist, however, rallied from a break down in the first set and then cruised past Christina McHale 6-3 6-2.

"It's always going to take time to rebuild," Azarenka told reporters. "I feel like I'm improving day to day.

"I play much better than I played a month ago. So that's important."

Read: Williams stunned by Cornet at Wimbledon

      Tennis

    • Rafael Nadal of Spain watches the ball in his match against Martin Klizan of Slovakia during during day seven of the China Open at the National Tennis Center on October 3, 2014 in Beijing, China.

      What does 2015 hold for Rafa?

      Rafael Nadal's body might be giving him a few problems, but his mind remains as strong as ever. Will the Spaniard add to his haul of 14 grand slam titles?
    • LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17: Wimbledon champion Andy Murray and his long time girlfriend Kim Sears arrive at Buckingham Palace on October 17, in London, England. Murray will become an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) and receive his medal from the Duke of Cambridge. (Photo by John Stillwell - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

      Love game: Andy Murray to tie knot

      The Scot has served up a few changes to his support team in 2014 but there's one person who isn't going anywhere -- his new fiancée Kim Sears.
    • Despite being forced to retire at the age of 24 due to health problems, Lacoste remained in the game and went on start the "Lacoste" brand in 1933, which specialised in tennis products. The inspiration for the company's logo came from his nickname as a player, "le crocodile."

      'Crocodile' who broke all the rules

      His distinctive crocodile logo is seen on clothing all over the world, but Rene Lacoste also left a lasting legacy in the development of tennis.
    • Serena Williams of the US holds the US Open trophy after defeating Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark during their US Open 2014 women's singles finals match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Center September 7, 2014 in New York. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

      Serena savors U.S. Open win

      Serena Williams is without peer in the modern women's game and now she is on a par with two American tennis legends from the past.
    • American tennis player and golfer Althea Gibson (right) receives a kiss from compatriot Darlene Hard, whom she beat in two sets to become the first black woman to win the Women's Singles Finals at Wimbledon.

      The amazing life of Althea Gibson

      Over the course of her remarkable life, Althea Gibson was many things to many people -- but it was tennis where she really left her mark.
    • Courting couple at match point

      "I didn't cry once when I practiced in front of the mirror," says Martin Emmrich. But the nerves kicked in when he got down on one knee on court.
    • LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 03: Tennis / Frauen: Wimbledon 2004, London; Finale; Siegerin Maria SHARAPOVA / RUS 03.07.04. (Photo by Bongarts/Bongarts/Getty Images)

      'Baby' Sharapova's big moment

      It's 10 years since a teenage Maria Sharapova became the darling of Wimbledon's hallowed Center Court, launching herself as a star.
    • 'Swiss Miss' follows mom's lead

      Five-time grand slam champion Martina Hingis has followed her mom into a coaching role, setting up a new tennis academy in Barcelona, Spain.