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Rediff.com  » Sports » Federer races into second round

Federer races into second round

By Bill Barclay
August 31, 2005 09:47 IST
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Roger Federer picked up where he left off at the U.S. Open on Tuesday, starting his title defence with a ruthless first-round demolition of Czech Ivo Minar.

A year ago, Federer crushed Lleyton Hewitt in the final and the Swiss top seed's 61-minute, 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 victory over Minar on the same Arthur Ashe Court sent out an ominous warning to those who covet his U.S. crown.

Women's second seed Lindsay Davenport, third seed Amelie Mauresmo and French Open champion Justine Henin-Hardenne also advanced to the second round without dropping a set.

However, the player Federer beat in last year's semi-finals, Briton Tim Henman, made a painful exit.

Compatriot Greg Rusedski also lost but a third Briton, teenager Andy Murray, progressed despite throwing up on court during his five-set win.

Federer had played only one tournament since completing a hat-trick of Wimbledon titles in July but looked in peak form from the start against Minar, lashing forehand winners at will.

"That doesn't happen very often going into slams," said Federer, who will play Frenchman Fabrice Santoro next.

"Usually early on I'm looking for my rhythm. Today it was there straight away. It's a good sign, a good feeling."

World number one Davenport had to work hard for a 6-4, 6-4 win over a determined Li Na of China in the first evening session match.

"It was a good first match to get under my belt, she is a very good player," Davenport said.

"I just hope I can get better as the tournament goes on."

Together with Belgian Kim Clijsters, former world number one Mauresmo is the highest-ranked women's player still looking for a grand slam title and the Frenchwoman was too strong for Roberta Vinci, beating the Italian 6-3, 6-2.

"I was pretty solid today, I played a consistent match," the 26-year-old said.

"It was a pretty good way to get into this tournament."

Mauresmo faces a tricky second-round opponent, however, in Bulgarian 16-year-old Sesil Karatantcheva.

Seventh seed Henin-Hardenne ensured there was no repeat of her shock first round exit at Wimbledon in June with an impressive 6-3, 6-0 win over Czech Zuzana Ondraskova.

"It's pretty usual for me to struggle a lot in the first rounds so I'm happy to win in two sets," the 23-year-old Belgian said.

BACK INJURY

Russian sixth seed Elena Dementieva, the runner-up last year, recovered from a slow start to quell another Czech, Lucie Safarova, 7-5, 6-3. Compatriot Anastasia Myskina, seeded 13, enjoyed a 6-3 6-1 win over Thailand's Tamarine Tanasugarn.

Henman, the 12th seed, slumped to a dismal 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 defeat to Spain's Fernando Verdasco.

The loss means the 30-year-old, who was hampered by a painful back injury, is likely to tumble down the men's rankings because he reached the last four last year at Flushing Meadows.

"If you're not healthy you can't compete at this level," the disappointed Briton said.

Rusedski, the 28th seed, was beaten in three sets by in-form American James Blake, the winner at New Haven on Sunday.

Murray bravely overcame Romanian Andrei Pavel 6-3, 3-6, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 having vomited apparently from exhaustion early in the fifth set.

Pavel, ranked 83 places above the 18-year-old, was later penalised a point for swearing at the umpire following an over-rule.

Former French Open champion Gustavo Kuerten earned only his third tournament win of 2005 with a four-set victory over American Paul Goldstein, the Brazilian serving 35 aces in the process.

However, another ex-Roland Garros champion Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain, seeded 20, lost 7-5, 7-5, 6-1 to Frenchman Arnaud Clement.

Argentine 11th seed David Nalbandian, the 2003 semi-finalist, came through in three sets against Alex Bogomolov of the U.S.

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Bill Barclay
Source: REUTERS
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