DINARA SAFINA was only a few games away from ignominy.Here she was, the No.1 player in the world, struggling to serve and even keep the ball in play against a wide-eyed rookie from Australia, the 18-year-old Olivia Rogowska.Safina, a 23-year-old Russian, was on her way to validating those who deride her ranking because she has not won a grand slam.Together, Safina and Rogowska were doing their best to butcher the graceful game of tennis. But finally, after two hours 35 minutes and 113 unforced errors between them, Safina recovered from a 0-3, 15-40 deficit in the third set and escaped with a 6-7 (5-7), 6-2, 6-4 victory on Tuesday at Arthur Ashe Stadium.”I made it,” Safina said. ”At the end of the day, that’s what counts. I pulled it out.”Svetlana Kuznetsova, the women’s No.6 seed, who has been known to wilt under pressure, started the morning with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Julia Goerges, and No.4 Elena Dementieva and No.5 Jelena Jankovic each advanced with straight-set victories.But in a round far earlier than expected, Safina had to overcome her biggest weakness – her flagging confidence. Despite double-faulting on set point in the first-set tie-breaker and falling behind 4-2 in the third set, she managed to win the last eight points on her serve.”Please,” she told herself before her service toss, ”just look at the ball to the end.”For Safina – the tempestuous sister of the even more volatile Marat Safin, the 2000 US Open men’s champion – it was clear as she yelled to herself in Russian and English that she was battling more than just Rogowska.”If I would lose a match, it would be I lost to myself,” Safina said. ”It’s me, myself and I playing on the court.”The I’s won out, but not before Safina committed 11 double faults and 48 unforced errors. Rogowska, however, committed 65 unforced errors and 13 double faults. ”I was making quite a few mistakes, so I was surprised that she was giving me free points,” Rogowska said.In her first full year on tour, Rogowska, who is from Melbourne (her parents emigrated from Poland 19 years ago), gained entry to the Open only because of a reciprocal wild-card agreement with the Australian and French opens.She played without fear and stood a foot inside the baseline to put pressure on Safina’s serve, which crumbled for a while. But ahead 4-2 in the third set, Rogowska fell to nerves.”I’m disappointed I lost, and I didn’t expect to say that after playing the No.1 player in the world,” she said.Rogowska’s dramatic near-miss overshadowed the first-round victory of Russian-born Australian Anastasia Rodionova. The 27-year-old advanced with a 6-0, 4-6, 6-1 success over Lourdes Dominguez Lino of Spain. She will play 23rd seed German Sabine Lisicki in the next round.Like Rogowska, Monique Adamczak suffered a painful first-round defeat against French teenager Alize Cornet.Making her belated main-draw debut at the Open, 26-year-old Adamczak required a medical time-out for a thigh strain and then let slip a second-set service break in a 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 loss.Jarmila Groth was another casualty, going down 6-2, 6-3 to China’s Shuai Peng.In the men’s draw, Peter Luczak fought back from two sets down before fading in the final set to Serbian 30th seed Viktor Troicki, losing 6-3, 6-3, 1-6, 2-6, 6-1. New York Times and AAP
GLOWING endorsements from Luke Wilkshire and Pim Verbeek have helped Socceroos midfielder David Carney secure a long-anticipated switch to Dutch club FC Twente just a day before the transfer window shut at midnight last night.Carney makes the move from English Championship side Sheffield United, where he has endured the toughest period of his career, having been frozen out since the club installed Kevin Blackwell as manager in February last year.The 25-year-old former Sydney FC winger has signed a two-year deal with the option of a third, with the final fee believed to be just under $800,000. Despite Blackwell’s reluctance to play Carney, he still managed to make an exceptional profit on the player signed by the Blades for $125,000 in mid-2007.Carney came through the ranks alongside Wayne Rooney at Everton but has largely failed to break through at the senior level in England, with his two-year stint in the A-League still the high-water mark of his club career thus far.However, his impressive form with the Socceroos demonstrated that his talent is undiminished, and he very nearly secured a contract with Belgium giants Anderlecht after recently impressing on trial.Former England boss and now FC Twente manager Steve McLaren said he was thrilled to have captured Carney after such glowing recommendations.”We’ve seen Carney and have also obtained information from Luke Wilkshire and Australian coach Pim Verbeek,” he said on the club’s website. ”Both were very positive about Carney, and we’re delighted about being able to include David in our squad.”McLaren said Carney had been purchased as immediate cover for the departed Edson Braafheid, whose $4.3 million transfer has left a considerable hole at left back.”Since the departure of Edson Braafheid to Bayern Munich, we’ve been looking around for a replacement,” McLaren said. ”With Nicky Kuiper, we have a talented player for the future … yet we wanted to strengthen our squad and lift our competitiveness.”Twente also have young Australian striker Nikita Rukavytsya on their books but are best known here for igniting the careers of Jason Culina and Wilkshire during their respective stints in Enschede.Fourth in the Dutch Eredivisie, Twente also qualified for the Europa League during the week after seeing off Azerbaijani club Karabakh, and have been drawn against Steaua Bucharest, Fenerbahce and Sheriff Tiraspol in the group stage.Meanwhile, journeyman midfielder Adrian Caceres will become the first player to represent four different A-League clubs after deciding to part company with Central Coast Mariners and sign with Wellington Phoenix.Caceres, 27, joined the Mariners at the beginning of last season and made a promising start to his career in Gosford but eventually fell out of favour with coach Lawrie McKinna towards the end of last season.After failing to feature in the Mariners’ opening four matches of this year, McKinna was happy to let Caceres go. “Adrian came to the Mariners with high hopes from Melbourne, and, while things may not have worked out quite how he or the club would have hoped, we certainly wish him the best of luck in what is a great opportunity,” McKinna said.Despite this being Caceres’s 11th club since he turned professional in 2000, Phoenix chief executive Tony Pignata said the club had identified Caceres as a player who could bolster their midfield stocks. “Adrian’s a very attack-minded player. To make the play-offs we need to add depth to the squad,” Pignata said.Elsewhere, Socceroos and Celtic striker Scott McDonald has been linked by the Scottish press with a one-year loan deal at English Premier League club Wigan Athletic. However, Celtic boss Tony Mowbray denied the reports at the weekend.
Former World No.1 Marat Safin concluded his Grand Slam tennis career at the US Open with no regret, no qualms about losing, no desire to change anything and feeling like a lottery winner.The 29-year-old Russian, a two-time Grand Slam winner who will retire at year’s end, exited with a 1-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 first-round loss to Austrian Jurgen Melzer at Louis Armstrong Stadium.Safin, who won the 2000 US Open and 2005 Australian Open, announced at the start of the year that this would be his final season and while he might play again this year, he is happy the Slam farewell tour has finally run its course.”It’s OK,” he said. “It’s the end. It’s the last one. Could have been better ending, but still OK. I’m looking forward to after my career so I have no regrets. I don’t care about losses anymore. I have no worries about it at all.”Safin, ranked 58th, fired 15 aces but lost to Melzer for the fourth time in five meetings after two hours 13 minutes. The crowd stood and applauded Safin as he grabbed his bag, waved to the fans and walked off the court.”I have a very nice feeling,” Safin said. “I’m really pleased the way the life treated me. Tennis was really very nice to me. It was a pretty nice ride.”Safin, who had one final jawing session with an umpire over a signal for a call review that went his way, won the first set in 27 minutes but struggled after that and in the fifth game of the last set struggled to reach returns, letting break point past him uncontested.”My head is already in afterwards tennis rather than here,” Safin said. “I have been doing it for a long time and I’ve been struggling for some time, so for me it’s just a new stage in my life.”This is perfect timing. I’m still young. I don’t have a family. I’m ready to make a change. Why not?”I’m happy. I’m OK with the decision. I think it’s just enough. I achieved what I want to achieve and I want to do something else, which is fair enough.”Safin called his 2000 US Open final victory over Pete Sampras a “miracle” but said he was unprepared to handle such success at age 20.”After beating Sampras, I never really understood what happened, to think how big this thing really was,” he said. “It was difficult. I was 20. I wasn’t ready for this.”Miracles really happen. I won the lottery. The way things fit together. It’s really amazing. I really can’t describe it. It has no logic.”Safin called his final career title at the 2005 Australian Open the most satisfying.”It was very important for me to win the second one,” he said.Safin remained elusive about post-tennis plans, although fourth seed Novak Djokovic said Safin was off to climb a mountain in South America.”He should keep his mind into tennis instead of giving up my private life,” Safin said.”Definitely I want to get out a little bit of tennis scene and try something completely different. I need some time off. I need to get away from tennis for some time to realize what I will miss about it.”One thing Safin will not do is tennis television commentary.”I’m (not a) person who wants to lay back and do nothing for rest of the life and talk nonsense on ESPN,” he said. “I will not do that. I want to achieve something else.”You got to be positive about it so I think good times are still to come.” AFP
Halfback Will Genia and flanker David Pocock will get their first starting roles in Tri Nations rugby amid a selection upheaval as the winless Wallabies seek to reverse their fortunes against unbeaten South Africa on Saturday.The pair are among five changes made by coach Robbie Deans to the starting team for the Suncorp Stadium clash in the wake of last Saturday’s 32-25 loss to the Springboks in Perth.Genia will make his Test starting debut replacing the out-of-sorts Luke Burgess at the base of the scrum.Captain George Smith switches to replace the axed Richard Brown at No.8, allowing youngster Pocock to come in at openside flanker.Berrick Barnes return from injury at inside centre, Drew Mitchell ousts Peter Hynes on the wing, and Tatafu Polota-Nau takes over from Stephen Moore as starting hooker.Barnes’ return sees Adam Ashley-Cooper shifting out one backline slot from last week to replace Ryan Cross at outside centre.Deans says Barnes’ established combination with Genia, whom he has played alongside regularly at the Reds, was a factor.‘‘Will has shown us since he joined the squad at the start of the Tri Nations that he is up to this level, and we saw that (off the bench) again last Saturday night,’’ said Deans.‘‘Having Berrick, whom he knows so well and has such a great understanding with, playing along side him will also help.’’Deans had no qualms about using world class openside flanker Smith as a No.8.‘‘George is comfortable at the back of the scrum while Dave (Pocock) has shown, in the opportunities he’s had to date, that he is worthy of a crack from the start.‘‘Likewise Polota-Nau has earned a starting spot after making an impact from the run on substitutes each time he has been called on.’’Moore moves to the bench alongside Burgess, while Brown has been omitted from the line-up with powerhouse No.8 Wycliff Palu returning on the bench after getting through a hit-out for his Manly club last weekend.Western Force prop Pek Cowan, who also played club rugby last weekend, has similarly been promoted onto the bench, taking over from Al Baxter.Flyhalf Quade Cooper has been selected on the bench, subject to proving his fitness after spraining his knee at the end of Saturday’s Test.Although Australia can no longer win either the Tri Nations or the Mandela Trophy this year, Deans says the remainder of the competition, and in particular his charges’ last crack at the world’s top ranked team for the year, still offered a major opportunity.‘‘It’s a Test match and against the world’s best team at one of the premier venues in world rugby. That’s not a prospect any of our blokes would take lightly,‘‘’’ Deans said.‘‘Every time you put on your national jumper you want to and expect to – do your best. That motivation doesn’t change, regardless of the circumstance.’’ Australia: James O’Connor, Lachie Turner, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Berrick Barnes, Drew Mitchell, Matt Giteau, Will Genia, George Smith (capt), David Pocock, Rocky Elsom, Mark Chisholm, James Horwill, Ben Alexander, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson. Reserves: Stephen Moore, Pek Cowan, Dean Mumm, Wycliff Palu, Luke Burgess, Quade Cooper, Peter Hynes. AAP
Club record signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a late debut goal as Barcelona began their title defence with a convincing 3-0 home win over Sporting Gijon on Monday.Birthday boy Bojan Krkic, who turned 19 three days ago, and Seydou Keita had put Barca 2-0 up at the interval before Ibrahimovic, a 69 million ($A117 million) capture from Inter Milan, netted his first goal for the club on 82 minutes.It was a largely disappointing debut from Ibrahimovic, who was upstaged by brilliant teenager Bojan, but the goal will certainly lift some of the immense pressure to prove he is the equal of departed hero Samuel Eto’o.Last season Barcelona lost 1-0 to Numancia on the opening day of the season but there was no slip-up this time around in a convincing win.After a marvellous pre-season in which they won the Spanish Super Cup and European Super Cup to make it five trophies in a year, Barcelona went into their first game on a high but missing some big names.Andres Iniesta failed to recover from injury and Lionel Messi was away on international duty with Argentina so several fringe players were given a chance to stake their claim.European Super Cup hero Pedro Rodriguez, the latest off the club’s infamous youth production line, started the match in Messi’s right wing slot while Bojan played on the left of central striker Ibrahimovic.With just five minutes gone the tall Swede had a great chance to score a debut goal but fluffed his lines, scuffing his shot wide of the target.At the other end Sporting almost took a shock 10th minute lead with Brazilian debutant Maxwell, recruited from Inter Milan, preventing a certain goal with a last-ditch tackle.It is the type of quality defending Barca will expect from their new 25 million euro Ukrainian centre-half Dmytro Chygrynskiy who watched on from the stands.With 17 minutes gone the hosts opened the scoring from a corner with Keita’s header falling to Bojan to convert at the back post.Bojan, a real menace throughout, showed quick feet to create a chance for himself on 40 minutes but his shot was deflected for a corner.But Gijon could not hold out and two minutes before the break Dani Alves curled in a brilliant cross for Mali international Keita to head home.In the opening stages of the second half Barca coach Pep Guardiola was forced to make a change with the injured Maxwell coming off for Eric Abidal.The reorganising defence were almost caught cold and Barca goalkeeper Victor Valdes had to pull off a reflex save to deny Mate Bilic.Sporting, who had the worst defence in the league last season, were looking vulnerable at every corner and Keita hit the post with a 68th minute header.Bojan’s evening was ruined in the 80th minute when he had to be subbed off injured and Guardiola will hope that the injuries to him and Maxwell are not serious.With eight minutes left Ibrahimovic got his debut goal smashing in after a cross from Alves to complete the scoring.The international break means the Spanish league resumes in a fortnight with Barcelona travelling to Getafe who won their first match 4-1 at Racing Santander. AFP
Lleyton Hewitt and Samantha Stosur are safely through to the second round of the US Open in New York but fellow Australian Jelena Dokic crashed out on Tuesday (AEST).Hewitt preserved his proud record of never having lost a first-round match in 10 visits to Flushing Meadows with a comprehensive 6-0 6-3 6-4 win over Brazilian Thiago Alves, while Stosur battled for two-and-a-half hours to see off Japanese veteran Ai Sugiyama 6-4 4-6 6-4.In her first match since Wimbledon, the underdone Dokic lost 6-3 6-4 to Belgian Kirsten Flipkins.Hewitt, the men’s 31st seed, was all business in putting away Alves in an hour and 50 minutes on the Grandstand court.‘‘It was good. I didn’t know anything about the guy going into the match,’’ Hewitt said.‘‘Did as much homework as possible to try to find out as much as I could in terms of his strengths and weaknesses.‘‘It’s never easy, but I got off to a good start and tried to dictate play, play on my terms.‘‘He played his best tennis when he was down in sets, but played a bit tight when the pressure was on.’’‘‘I felt pretty comfortable.’’Hewitt, the 2001 champion, missed last year’s Open after undergoing hip surgery and was delighted to be back at his happiest grand slam hunting ground.‘‘It’s frustrating not to play any grand slam but to miss coming to a place that I’ve obviously done extremely well over the years was extra tough,’’ he said.‘‘I obviously won it once and made a final, but all the rest of the years for the most part I’ve gone deep into the second week so I’ve always felt pretty comfortable when I’ve come here.’’Hewitt next faces Argentine Juan Ignacio Chela on Thursday (AEST) almost certainly for the right to challenge five-time champion Roger Federer for a place in the last 16.Stosur knows she will need to lift her game in her second-round clash with American wildcard Vania King after doing her best to commit tennis suicide against Sugiyama.The world No.15 sprayed a staggering 58 unforced errors and dodged a bullet when her 34-year-old opponent lost her nerve and blew a service-break advantage late in the deciding set.Despite the fast hardcourt surface supposedly suiting her game, the victory was only Stosur’s second in seven matches in New York and snapped a run of four successive first-round exits since 2004.Stosur’s aggressive style is such that she often lives and dies by the sword and such was the case against Sugiyama.Ultimately, she triumphed because of her courage under fire, the 25-year-old hammering 44 winners to almost offset her ridiculous error count.‘‘You can’t get away with that too many times at a grand slam and it’s something I’m definitely going to have to tighten up for the next round,’’ Stosur said.‘‘She put me under pressure and I felt pressure throughout the whole match … but to still get through is really pleasing.’’Dokic was clearly lacking condition after being bed-ridden for two months with mononucleosis, the Australian Open quarter-finalist fading from 4-2 up in the second set to drop the last four games of her match. AAP
Former world No.1 Kim Clijsters has maintained her impressive return to tennis after a two-year lay-off, by easing her way into the third round of the US Open.Clijsters defeated 14th-seed Marion Bartoli of France 5-7 6-1 6-2.In just her third tournament back after “retirement” during which she got married and had a baby daughter, 26-year-old Clijsters started slowly but moved up through the gears to stun the former world top tenner.She will now play another Belgian, Kirsten Flipkens, for a place in the last 16 in a quarter of the draw headed by third-seeded Venus Williams, who is struggling with a knee injury.The 29-year-old American, who won back-to-back US Open titles in 2000 and 2001, wore a heavy white strapping to support her left knee in her tie against compatriot Bethanie Mattek-Sands, but she was rarely stretched and won through 6-4 6-4.Younger sibling Serena, who is in the same half of the draw, later produced an awesome display of power hitting to demolish Hungary’s Melina Czink 6-1 6-1 and reinforce her position as the tournament’s outstanding favourite.Clijsters said that the key to her win over Bartoli had been a tactical change she had made after losing the first set.”She was playing really well and dominating the points and my forehand was not going the way I wanted it too,” she said.Venus, who came within three points of a shock first round loss to Vera Dushevina of Russia, said she was trying to play through the pain of her injured knee.”I really just put all my focus on the match and playing the ball and getting to the ball, and I didn’t focus on anything else, anything going on. Even with my body, I really do try to put that out of my thoughts,” she said.Williams will next play Slovakian suprise Magdalena Rybarikova.Other leading seeds to make it through from the second round were eighth-ranked Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, who coasted past Barbora Zahlavova Strykova of the Czech Republic 6-2 6-1 and seventh-seeded Russian Vera Zvonareva, who hit back to defeat compatriot Anna Chakvetadze 3-6 6-1 6-1.In-form Italian Flavia Panetta, the 10th seed, recorded the first whitewash of the tournament, defeating India’s Sania Mirza 6-0 6-0.China’s top player Li Na kept Asian hopes alive with a 6-1 6-3 win over tempestuous teen Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal.In other games, French veteran Amelie Mauresmo lost 6-4 6-0 to Aleksandra Wozniak and said she would consider her future in the game at the end of the year, while Maria Kirilenko of Russia upset Polish 12th seed Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4 2-6 6-4. AFP
SETAIMATA SA slapped his girlfriend twice across the face outside the Coogee Bay Hotel, witnesses said, on the night he put his NRL career on the line.Sa, suspended indefinitely from the Roosters, faces the sack when he appears before the board at a date to be determined after being charged with assaulting police, resisting arrest, malicious damage and failure to leave a licensed premises during his drunken rampage.The Herald has pieced together claims about Sa’s movements on Sunday that finished with him being detained at Maroubra police station, too drunk to be questioned and his girlfriend, Claire Sweeney, requesting an apprehended violence order.Sa started drinking at the Clovelly Hotel about 2.30pm as part of celebrations for Sweeney’s 32nd birthday.The gathering moved to the nearby Coogee Bay Hotel about 9pm. Sa and Sweeney were asked to provide proof of age documents. Sweeney was allowed in with a friend but Sa was told he was too intoxicated. He became angry and started a screaming match with Sweeney outside the hotel. He wanted her to leave with him. She wanted to stay.Witnesses said Sa began walking away – but returned in a rage. He slapped Sweeney twice across the face. She went inside the hotel and called the police to report the incident.Sa then walked around to the Arden Street entrance of the hotel. More witnesses saw him raising his fists. He attempted entry on three occasions, rejected each time.The police arrived shortly after his third attempt to get inside the hotel. Sa started verbally abusing Sweeney again.The Roosters player, a New Zealand international, was asked to leave by security and police. When he declined, police attempted to lead him away.It is claimed his aggression turned towards the police, who placed him in wrist locks. Sa broke free, grabbed an iron gate and slammed it backwards so it struck a police officer.He put his fist though a window. Sa was forced to the ground, continuing to struggle before being placed in handcuffs and arrested.He was taken to Maroubra police station and was too intoxicated to provide a statement. Roosters coach Brad Fittler was among those who contacted the station seeking details. Other Roosters players were at the hotel on Sunday night but none were involved in the drama.When the Herald visited Sa’s address yesterday, a woman, understood to be Sweeney, said he was not there.She told police at the hotel that Sa was not welcome at their home. Sa’s bail conditions include restrictions on his alcohol consumption and a ban from attending licensed premises.He will appear at Waverley Local Court on September 23.Last year, Sa was ordered to complete 250 hours of community service for fracturing a man’s skull during a brawl in Wollongong.Roosters chief executive Steve Noyce has had enough of his club’s name being dragged through the mud again after a string of alcohol-related dramas.”Sa is deeply remorseful over this incident, however it has become obvious the Sydney Roosters and the game will no longer tolerate such behaviour,” he said.”He’s clearly shattered by the incident. Accountability and responsibility – if you look in the mirror every morning, you know where it lies.”We have been here too many times this year. The players knew from the last time there was a serious incident that we needed to change as a club.”We’ve got to set higher standards, and we’ve let people down. We need to keep working on it. I think your coach has a lot to do with setting your culture, and we’ve got a new coach [Brian Smith] coming in who has a history of creating a strong culture with strong discipline. That is something we are committed to.”Noyce said NRL boss David Gallop was livid that the game had received another black eye.The Roosters should be spending the week giving cleanskin captain Craig Fitzgibbon a fitting send-off.Gallop said last night he was comfortable with the Roosters’ initial punishment of Sa. There’s more to come.
Results from US Open today (prefix denotes seeding). Men Rd 1 15-Radek Stepanek (CZE) bt Simone Bolelli (ITA) 6-4 6-4 6-4. Leonardo Mayer (ARG) bt Andrey Golubev (KAZ) 6-4 4-6 7-5 6-3. Marc Gicquel (FRA) bt Dmitry Tursunov (RUS) 6-2 5-7 6-3 6-3. Juan Ignacio Chela (ARG) bt Oscar Hernandez (ESP) 6-4 6-4 6-2. 23-Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) bt Andreas Seppi (ITA) 6-0 6-4 6-4. 31-Lleyton Hewitt (AUS) bt Thiago Alves (BRA) 6-0 6-3 6-4. 21-James Blake (USA) bt Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo (ESP) 6-1 6-4 7-5. 20-Tommy Haas (GER) bt Q-Alejandro Falla (COL) 7-5 4-6 7-6(7) 6-2. Olivier Rochus (BEL) bt Igor Kunitsyn (RUS) 6-3 6-0 6-2. Robert Kendrick (USA) bt Martin Vassallo Arguello (ARG) 6-3 6-2 6-2. Q-Somdev Devvarman (IND) bt Frederico Gil (POR) 6-3 6-4 6-3. Q-Marsel Ilhan (TUR) bt Christophe Rochus (BEL) 3-6 6-3 3-6 7-5 7-5. 14-Tommy Robredo (ESP) bt Q-Donald Young (USA) 6-4 3-6 6-2 6-3. John Isner (USA) bt 28-Victor Hanescu (ROU) 6-1 7-6(14) 7-6(5). Simon Greul (GER) bt Q-Giovanni Lapentti (ECU) 6-3 4-6 3-6 6-0 7-6(9). 1-Roger Federer (SUI) bt WC-Devin Britton (USA) 6-1 6-3 7-5. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (ESP) bt Q-Peter Polansky (CAN) 6-4 6-4 5-7 3-6 6-1. Jan Hernych (CZE) bt Rainer Schuttler (GER) 1-6 7-6(5) 6-4 2-6 6-3. 8-Nikolay Davydenko (RUS) bt Q-Dieter Kindlmann (GER) 6-3 6-4 7-5. 12-Robin Soderling (SWE) bt Albert Montanes (ESP) 6-1 3-6 6-1 6-4. Marcel Granollers (ESP) bt Mischa Zverev (GER) 2-6 7-5 3-6 6-4 6-0. Mikhail Youzhny (RUS) bt 26-Paul-Henri Mathieu (FRA) 2-6 7-5 6-0 6-2. Q-Marco Chiudinelli (SUI) bt Potito Starace (ITA) 7-6(3) 7-6(2) 6-0. Women Rd 1 18-Li Na (CHN) bt Raluca Olaru (ROU) 7-6(4) 6-3. 22-Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) bt Meghann Shaughnessy (USA) 6-2 4-6 6-1. Maria Jose Martinez (ESP) bt 28-Sybille Bammer (AUT) 6-4 1-6 7-6(5). 31-Elena Vesnina (RUS) bt Lucie Hradecka (CZE) 6-4 7-6(5). Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) bt Jelena Dokic (AUS) 6-3 6-4. Michelle Larcher de Brito (POR) bt Mathilde Johansson (FRA) 1-6 7-5 6-1. Q-Angelique Kerber (GER) bt Andrea Petkovic (GER) 6-4 5-7 6-3. Timea Bacsinszky (SUI) bt Q-Vesna Manasieva (RUS) 6-3 6-4. Anna Chakvetadze (RUS) bt Q-Yurika Sema (JPN) 4-6 6-1 6-2. Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA) bt Iveta Benesova (CZE) 6-3 6-4. 20-Anabel Medina (ESP) bt WC-Gail Brodsky (USA) 6-4 6-4. Q-Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) bt Q-Marta Domachowska (POL) 2-6 6-2 6-3. Jill Craybas (USA) bt Q-Carly Gullickson (USA) 6-3 7-6(5). Sania Mirza (IND) bt Olga Govortsova (BLR) 6-2 3-6 6-3. 7-Vera Zvonareva (RUS) bt Nuria Llagostera (ESP) 6-0 6-4. Melinda Czink (HUN) bt Maria Elena Camerin (ITA) 6-3 6-4. 17-Amelie Mauresmo (FRA) bt Tatjana Malek (GER) 6-3 6-4. Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK) bt Q-Valerie Tetreault (CAN) 6-3 4-6 6-1. 2-Serena Williams (USA) bt WC-Alexa Glatch (USA) 6-4 6-1. Q-Kai-Chen Chang (TPE) bt 25-Kaia Kanepi (EST) 6-0 2-6 6-2. 10-Flavia Pennetta (ITA) bt Edina Gallovits (ROU) 6-0 6-4. Aleksandra Wozniak (CAN) bt Laura Granville (USA) 6-1 7-6(7). 14-Marion Bartoli (FRA) bt Rossana De Los Rios (PAR) 6-1 6-0. 15-Samantha Stosur (AUS) bt Ai Sugiyama (JPN) 6-4 4-6 6-4. Stefanie Vogele (SUI) bt Alberta Brianti (ITA) 6-7(10) 6-1 6-3. 26-Francesca Schiavone (ITA) bt Q-Yvonne Meusburger (AUT) 6-1 6-2. Maria Kirilenko (RUS) bt Q-Mariya Koryttseva (UKR) 6-2 6-1. WC-Kim Clijsters (BEL) bt Viktoriya Kutuzova (UKR) 6-1 6-1. 8-Victoria Azarenka (BLR) bt Alexandra Dulgheru (ROU) 6-1 6-1. 12-Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) bt Patricia Mayr (AUT) 6-1 6-2. WC-Vania King (USA) bt Anastasiya Yakimova (BLR) 2-1 ret. AAP
Rafael Nadal has made a comfortable return to grand slam tennis after brushing aside France’s Richard Gasquet 6-2 6-3 6-3 in the opening round of the US Open on Wednesday.The third-seeded Spaniard, who has not played in a grand slam since his shock French Open defeat by Robin Soderling, will now face Germany’s Nicolas Kiefer in the second round.Nadal was back in action after knee tendonitis sidelined him for two months and stopped him from defending his Wimbledon title.”Seems like I was two years outside of competition. I was two months,” Nadal said.”I’m fresher than ever in this tournament. I don’t know if this fresher is good but I’m fresh.”Nadal fired seven aces and made only 10 unforced errors to win in one hour, 41 minutes, improving the his record to 7-0 against Gasque.”It felt good,” Nadal said. “I served well in the important moments. I played very well on my backhand, which is very important in my game. I’m very happy to be in the second round.”Nadal also shrugged off any notion of lingering knee trouble.”I don’t have pain so I don’t think (about it),” Nadal said.”I’m playing and practicing with a good attitude. That’s the important thing right now, trying to get into a good rhythm for the matches.”That’s dangerous news for Roger Federer, who has lost to Nadal in five Slam finals and could meet him again for this year’s US Open crown.Federer booked a third-round US Open date with Australia’s Lleyton Hewitt after edging past Germany’s Simon Greul 6-3 7-5 7-5.Despite being a major threat to his attempt at winning a 16th grand slam. the Swiss said he was delighted to see his old rival’s return.”It’s fantastic having him back,” Federer said.”It seems like he is doing well. He won very easily and that’s great.”If he’s physically in great shape, obviously he’s got a great chance to go far.”If he’s on, he’s going to be hard to stop.”Greul provided a somewhat tricky test for Federer, who was forced to save two set points in the 10th game before the Swiss star held, broke in the 11th game and held again for the set.Federer then took six of the last seven games to move on after one hour and 58 minutes.The US Open unbeaten streak now stretches to 37 matches and set him up a rematch of his first US Open final triumph in 2004 against Hewitt, who defeated Argentina’s Juan Ignacio Chela 6-3 6-3 6-4.The 28-year-old has beaten the Aussie in their last 13 meetings and stretching that streak would ensure the Swiss star remains top the world rankings no matter what else happens in the Flushing Meadows fortnight.”You’ve got to respect the player he is,” Federer said.”If things go badly you can lose very quickly.”Argentine sixth seed Juan Martin Del Potro advanced with a 6-3 6-3 6-1 victory over countryman Juan Monaco. The 20-year-old French Open semi-finalist will next face Austrian Jurgen Melzer.Former world No.1 Marat Safin concluded his Grand Slam career with a 1-6 6-4 6-3 6-4 first-round loss to Melzer. The 29-year-old Russian, a two-time Grand Slam winner, will retire at year’s end.Spain’s Juan Carlos Ferrero ousted France’s Fabrice Santoro 6-4, 6-3, 6-3. It was a men’s record 69th career Slam appearance and 45th in a row for Santoro, who will also quit after 20 years on the circuit.Frenchmen Gilles Simon and Gael Monfils, the ninth and 13th seeds respectively, also advanced.Monfils beat countryman Jeremy Chardy 6-1 6-4 6-3. Simon downed Spain’s Daniel Gimeno-Traver 6-4 7-6 6-3. AFP