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Leading ladies shine on windy day

September 01, 2005 10:14 IST
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The windy remnants of Hurricane Katrina proved more troublesome than any on-court opponent for Maria Sharapova and the rest of the title contenders at the U.S. Open on Wednesday.

Women's top seed Sharapova, fourth seed Kim Clijsters and the Williams sisters Venus and Serena were all unruffled, sweeping into round three without the loss of a single set.

In the men's singles third seed Lleyton Hewitt hurried through to the second round with a 6-1, 6-2, 6-1 victory over former French Open champion Albert Costa.

Gusts of up to 65 kph turned the ball sideways on occasions at Flushing Meadows but for 18-year-old Russian Sharapova, it was a cakewalk.

She adapted quickly to thrash Madagascan opponent Dally Randriantefy 6-1, 6-0.

"It's so windy today I'm really glad I had a piece of chocolate cake last night or else I would have been blown away out here," said the slender Russian, who has only dropped three games in her two matches so far.

"When it's windy like this you never know what to expect."

Hewitt served superbly in his first match at the Open to outplay Spaniard Costa from start to finish on Arthur Ashe Court.

The Australian, who lost last year's final to Roger Federer, wrapped up victory over the world number 104 in 80 minutes with a crunching backhand service return winner.

"It was extremely tough conditions," Hewitt said. "So it was one match that you just wanted to get under your belt and get back into the locker room as quickly as possible."

Following the late withdrawal through injury of Marat Safin and the exit of British 12th seed Tim Henman on Tuesday, Slovakian 15th seed Dominik Hrbaty is the highest seed left in Hewitt's quarter of the draw.

The 2001 champion could, however, face top seed Federer in the semi-finals.

Clijsters initially found the weather and Colombian opponent Fabiola Zuluaga more difficult to cope with before earning a 7-5 6-0 second-round win.

The Belgian, who has six titles to her name this year but is still seeking her maiden grand slam title, threw away a 4-1 lead to trail 5-4 in the first set.

Clijsters recovered her rhythm to break to love at 5-5 and she romped through the second set.


Wimbledon champion Venus Williams beat Russian Maria Kirilenko 6-1, 6-3 to move a step closer to a possible fourth round showdown with younger sister Serena, like her, a two-time former champion at Flushing Meadows.

"This is the windiest conditions I've ever played in," said Venus, who plays Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova in the third round.

"And it was quite hot so there were a lot of factors."

Eighth seed Serena, still feeling her way back after knee and ankle trouble, was not at her best but did not need to be to beat Colombia's Catalina Castano 6-2, 6-2.

Russia's Nadia Petrova, seeded nine, also eased through 6-2, 6-0 against Japan's Aiko Nakamura.

In the men's draw Australian Mark Philippoussis's disappointing year continued in depressing fashion.

The 1998 U.S. Open runner-up lost 6-4, 6-2, 7-5 to Slovakia's Karol Kucera in the first round.

Taylor Dent lifted U.S. spirits following Tuesday's shock exit of fourth seed Andy Roddick when he beat German Lars Burgsmueller 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 in another belated first-round match.

Chile's Olympic champion Nicolas Massu received a walkover into round three after his second round opponent Jiri Novak of the Czech Republic withdrew due to a heel injury.

Russian Ekaterina Bychkova, who knocked out defending women's champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in the first round, lost 7-5, 6-1 to Croatian qualifier Ivana Lisjak.

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