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Rediff.com  » Sports » Images: Top seeds Nadal, Wozniacki start off in style

Images: Top seeds Nadal, Wozniacki start off in style

Last updated on: September 1, 2010 11:48 IST

Wozniacki breezes into second round

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Top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark made short work of American wildcard Chelsey Gullickson, breezing into the second round of the US Open with a 6-1, 6-1 victory to close out Tuesday's programme.

Wozniacki, who has compiled a 14-1 record since Wimbledon and won four titles this season, had a light workout against Gullickson, a University of Georgia All-American playing in her first Grand Slam.

The 20-year-old Dane, runner-up to Belgian Kim Clijsters at last year's US championship, faced three break points in the match and never lost serve in the 61-minute rout.

"I love being back here, especially playing the night session," she said, despite having to wait until nearly midnight to begin her first-round match after a series of long contests on Arthur Ashe center court.

"A win is a win," said Wozniacki, aiming for her first grand slam title. "It doesn't really matter what time I get on.

"It's a great feeling. I was happy to be out there. I'm happy to be through to the second round."

Photographs: Reuters


Image: Caroline Wozniacki

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Nadal launches US Open quest with powerful win

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World number one Rafa Nadal made a powerful start in his determined bid to complete a career Grand Slam by winning a 7-6, 7-6, 6-3 slugfest against Russian Teymuraz Gabashvili.

Showing more power than ever in his serve and looking comfortable on the fast Arthur Ashe center court, the 24-year-old Spaniard claimed the first two tiebreaks by 7-4.

Top seed Nadal, who topped 130 mph (210 kph) on his fastest serve, registered the first service break of the match when the 93rd-ranked Gabashvili netted an easy forehand in the seventh game.

Nadal then closed out the match with another break.

"My serve tonight worked well," said the eight-times Grand Slam winner, who needs a US Open title to complete a career Grand Slam. "Hopefully it will continue like this.

"My serve is not my best shot but I always try hard to keep improving and that's what I'm working on all the time."


Image: Rafael Nadal

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Sharapova outlasts Australian Groth

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Former champion Maria Sharapova dropped the first set but fought back to claim a 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 first-round victory over big-serving Australian Jarmila Groth.

Groth, ranked 60th after reaching the fourth round at this year's French and Wimbledon championships, hammered 13 winners in the first set as she applied constant hard-hitting pressure on the 23-year-old Russian.

"I think she came out today and really swung and didn't give me much time to do anything out there," said 2006 US Open winner Sharapova. "Against a player like that, who kind of plays the one-two punch type of tennis, it's quite difficult to get a rhythm in the beginning."

The 23-year-old Sharapova landed only 45 percent of her first serves against Groth, but said her second serve was one of the keys to her victory.

"I think my percentage was quite low today, but I think I did a really good job of hitting some great second serves when I needed to," she said.

"Especially in the third set, I wasn't getting too many first serves in. But I hurt her from my second serve. I probably could say that that was one of the shots that won me the match today."


Image: Maria Sharapova

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Djokovic dispels some doubts with heated comeback

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Novak Djokovic, dogged by nagging questions about his stamina and guts when pressed in big matches and high temperatures, showed fortitude against an old friend.

The 23-year-old Serb dug deep to come back after trailing two sets to one and down a break in the fourth set to overtake his Davis Cup team mate Viktor Troicki 6-3, 3-6, 2-6, 7-5, 6-3 in the first round on Arthur Ashe centre court.

"I've been in those situations before, played a lot of long matches in very difficult conditions, feeling very exhausted," 2008 Australian Open winner Djokovic told reporters.

"You kind of start panicking a little bit when you don't feel great physically. Then your opponent takes the advantage. And it's not easy. Definitely those moments are very challenging for an athlete."


Image: Novak Djokovic

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Jankovic grinds out win over unseeded Romanian

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Fourth seed Jelena Jankovic of Serbia narrowly averted a first-round upset by rallying to beat unseeded Romanian teenager Simona Halep 6-4, 4-6, 7-5.

The 18-year-old Halep, ranked 96th in the world, was two points from registering the first major upset of the championships serving at 5-4 in the third set before Jankovic broke her serve with a forehand winner to level the set.

Jankovic, who reached the Open final two years ago but has been hampered by an ankle injury in recent months, won the next two games and ended the tussle by breaking Halep at love -- the 15th service break of the match in windy conditions on Arthur Ashe centre court.

"It was really a tough match," Jankovic said in an on-court interview. "I had to get used to conditions. It was quite windy here and I was a little bit nervous to be honest, so I'm very happy to get through."


Image: Jelena Jankovic

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Revitalised Lucic earns first Grand-Slam win since 2002

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When Croatian Mirjana Lucic reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon in 1999 as a fresh-faced 17-year-old, she was tipped as a future star of women's tennis.

Just four years later, she was all but gone from the tour, the victim of an abusive father and seemingly destined to go down as a footnote in the sport's history.

But on Tuesday at a sweltering Flushing Meadows, the 28-year-old Lucic was back and all smiles after earning her first Grand-Slam victory in more than eight years with a 7-6, 6-1 first-round win over Australian Alicia Molik.

"I feel fantastic," Lucic told reporters. "I'm so, so happy. I worked so hard to get here. This is my first U.S. Open in, I don't know, seven years or something. It feels incredible. It just feels so rewarding.

Lucic burst onto the scene in 1997 as a 15-year-old when she won the title in her first tour event.

She reached the final in her next tournament in Strasbourg and was so impressive that Steffi Graf, who beat her, said she was better than she had been at the same age.

Lucic won her only Grand-Slam title at the Australian Open the following year, taking the doubles crown in partnership with Martina Hingis.

But after the high of Wimbledon in 1999, it soon became clear that all was not well in the Lucic family.

Estranged from her abusive father, she was beset by personal and financial problems and it took her until 2007 before she began to make positive moves in the rankings again.

"I grew up winning since I was six years old," she said. "Once that has been taken away from you for years and you haven't had that feeling, (to get it back) is incredible."

Having won three matches in qualifying to get to the main draw, her win over Molik - her first Grand-Slam victory since the 2002 French Open - will lift her several places from her current ranking of 150.

She still has a long way if she is going to return to near her career-high of 32 but she is simply delighted to be back.

"Every match I win now, it's like winning an entire tournament," she said. "Every match gives me such satisfaction. I really enjoy it so much.

"I just love it out there. I'm doing what I love and I know that there is still a lot of good tennis in me, a lot of good results. That's what's pushing me."


Image: Mirjana Lucic

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