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Roddick first player into third round at Open

A year after the first round exit from US Open, Roddick celebrated turning 24 on Wednesday by reaching the tournament's third round.

india Updated: Aug 31, 2006 12:24 IST

Clearly, this was a much happier birthday for Andy Roddick.

A year after bowing out in the US Open's first round on the day he turned 23, Roddick celebrated turning 24 on Wednesday by reaching the tournament's third round.

The 2003 US Open champion, seeded ninth this time, beat Kristian Pless of Denmark 6-3, 7-6 (3), 6-3. It was the day's only second-round match.

"I hope I'm going to give you guys something better to cheer about this tournament," Roddick told the crowd. "Going home in the first round is not fun, I know that."

With new coach Jimmy Connors watching in the stands, Roddick dominated with his serve, clocking 140 mph (225 kph), totaling 21 aces and one double fault. The American faced only two break points and saved both, including one with a serve-and-volley net rush. "Overall, I felt like I was cruising through service games pretty easily," he said.

Roddick-Pless was the last match of the night in Arthur Ashe Stadium, following Maria Sharapova's straight-sets victory over Michaella Krajicek.

Sharapova and Roddick have been the subject of romantic speculation, and she was asked whether she bought him a birthday gift.

"Is it his birthday? I had no idea," she responded. "I really don't talk about my personal life. And when two tennis players know each other and are friends, and are known around the world, people are going to talk. That's exactly what's happening." Roddick's answer to a question about their status was more emphatic.

"We're not dating. I've said it a million times already," Roddick said. "We're friendly. We're in the same places. I think she's a great girl. We'll talk. That's about it."

At the 2005 US Open, Roddick also played at night on his birthday, but was knocked out in three tiebreakers by Gilles Muller, the first man from Luxembourg to compete in the tournament. Muller lost to Vince Spadea in the first round of this year's Open on Wednesday.