Federer, Clijsters Cruise as American Open Kicks Off
Flushing Meadows, New York. The US Open got under way on Monday with straight-sets wins for second seeds and tournament betting favorites Roger Federer and Kim Clijsters.
But there were upsets, too, as 2001 champion Lleyton Hewitt of Australia and former world No. 1 Dinara Safina of Russia both crashed out.
Federer, seeking to regain the crown he lost to Juan Martin del Potro last year after five consecutive titles, strolled to a 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 win over Brian Dabul of Argentina in the featured night match at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The Swiss star, who won his second tournament of the year in Cincinnati eight days ago, was never in trouble against Dabul as he got back to winning form in the tournament he dominated from 2004 until last year’s upset in the final.
“I’ve never lost a night session match here and feel very much at home. [I’ve] been in six straight finals and would like to be there again this year, but the path is long and rough,” Federer said.
“I missed many break chances, but [to give] credit to Brian, too, it was his first time on center court at a major,” he said.
Joining him in the second round was potential quarterfinal opponent Robin Soderling, but the Swede needed five sets to see off unheralded Austrian Andreas Haider-Maurer 7-5, 6-3, 6-7 (2), 5-7, 6-4.
On a hot and sunny opening day, there were wins for sixth seed Nikolay Davydenko of Russia — a 6-4, 6-1, 6-3 winner over Michael Russell of the United States — as well as ninth seed and 2003 champion Andy Roddick, who saw off Stephane Robert of France 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 on his 28th birthday.
Clijsters, who stepped out of retirement and motherhood a year ago to win her second US Open title, defeated Greta Arn of Hungary 6-0, 7-5.
The Belgian player said she felt no extra pressure to repeat her outstanding play.
“Obviously, last year, I had a few more probably unanswered questions. But I think, this year, I know what I have to do if I want to try and do as well as I did,” Clijsters said.
Third seed American Venus Williams enjoyed a reasonably comfortable winning start to her campaign.
But there were signs in the 6-4, 6-1 victory over Italy’s Roberta Vinci that Williams — who carries home hopes with her sister, Serena, out injured — was still feeling some pain from the left knee injury that had sidelined her since Wimbledon.
There were also wins for fifth seed Samantha Stosur of Australia and sixth seed Francesca Schiavone of Italy.
However, Safina suffered more heartache as she attempted to return to her best form after a crippling back injury. The Russian put on a battling display against Slovak veteran Daniela Hantuchova, but lost 6-3, 6-4.