Murray makes promising US Open start | sports | Hindustan Times
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Murray makes promising US Open start

Andy Murray led fellow former finalist Novak Djokovic into the second round of the US Open as both seeds scored emphatic wins to stake a claim to the title held for five years by Roger Federer.

sports Updated: Sep 02, 2009 15:53 IST
Bill DPA

Andy Murray led fellow former finalist Novak Djokovic into the second round of the US Open as both seeds scored emphatic wins to stake a claim to the title held for five years by Roger Federer.

Murray, newly crowned number two behind the 15-time Grand Slam champion Swiss, hammered out his fourth win over Latvia's Ernests Gulbis 7-5, 6-3, 7-5 here Tuesday.

Both Murray and his opponent struck 11 aces, but the Gulbis unforced error count approached 50 in the one-way contest.

Murray lost to Federer in the Flushing Meadows final a year ago, while Djokovic went down in the title match the year previously.

The fourth-seeded Serb won his first-round match against Croatian Ivan Ljubicic 6-3, 6-1, 6-3.

"I would love every match to be this way, believe me," Djokovic said of the just more than 90-minute match. "I would love every match to be a walk in the park."

Murray has a chance of taking the top ranking after the Open, but he would have to win the event and holder Federer would have to fail to reach the round of 16.

"It was great fun to play at night here," the winner said. "I've wanted to play one since I was a boy."

Four other seeds followed the leaders with number seven Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France ousting American Chase Buchanan 6-0, 6-2, 6-1 and Spain's Fernando Verdasco stopping Benjamin Becker 7-5, 6-4, 7-5.

Fernando Gonzalez won an all-Chilean encounter against Nicolas Massu 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 while 16th-seeded Croatian Marin Cilic beat Ryan Sweeting of the United States 7-6 (7-2), 6-4, 7-6 (7-4).

Tsonga set up a match with returning Finn Jarkko Niemimen, who had missed nearly four months of competition because of a wrist surgery but won in only his second match back 7-6, 7-6 (8-6), 6-4 over Italian Fabio Fognini.

In women's play, Australian outsider Olivia Rogowska came close to an upset before rattled top seed Dinara Safina pulled herself together to scratch out a perilous 6-7 (5-7), 6-2, 6-4 escape.

The Russian world number one, who has never won a Grand Slam but has lost three major finals, was down a break in the third set against the 167th-ranked wild card and looking fragile.

But Safina managed to stumble through an error-plagued contest lasting well over two and a half hours to eke out the win.

"It was a very tough one, but I made it into the second round," she said. "That's a positive thing because tomorrow is another day, another chance to step on the court and definitely play a better match."

Safina squeezed through with 48 unforced errors to 65 for Rogowska, who made her New York debut.

"I'm disappointed that I was in a winning position and I let it go, but it's a great learning experience," Rogowska said. "I'm getting confidence that I can match it up to the number one player."

Other seeds spared the drama with number four Elena Dementieva crushing Camille Pin 6-1, 6-2 and revitalised Serb number five Jelena Jankovic dispatching Italian Roberta Vinci 6-2, 6-3.

Number six Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova, a former champion, defeated German Julia Goerges 6-3, 6-2, and ninth-seeded Dane Caroline Wozniacki hammered Galina Voskoboeva of Kazakstan 6-4, 6-0, but Ukrainian Kateryna Bondarenko surprised 11th seed Anna Ivanovic 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (9-7).

Maria Sharapova, the 2006 winner, continued her comeback from a shoulder injury with a solid 6-3, 6-0 dispatch of Bulgaria's Tsvetana Pironkova.

"I played a tricky opponent who doesn't give you much rhythm," said the three-time Grand Slam champion Russian. "It was just really important to stay on top of her and do the right things from the beginning."