August 28, 2006

Roddick, Henin-Hardenne reach second round

By Steve Ginsburg

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Andy Roddick served notice that he is
primed for a run at another U.S. Open title by whipping Florent
Serra in straight sets on Monday to lead a parade of seeded
players into the second round of the year's final grand slam.

"I'm really, really confident right now," said the ninth
seeded Roddick after his dominating 6-2 6-1 6-3 triumph in the
opening session of the year's final grand slam.

There were few upsets at the National Tennis Center, with
the notable exception of third-seeded Ivan Ljubicic, who was
ousted by Spain's Feliciano Lopez, 6-3 6-3 6-3.

On the women's side, advancing to the second round were
number two seed Justine Henin-Hardenne, number four seed Elena
Dementieva and 10th seeded Lindsay Davenport.

Under the watchful eye of new coach Jimmy Connors, Roddick
needed just 75 minutes to bounce Serra from the tournament. The
former world number one now faces Kristian Pless of Denmark or
Alberto Martin of Spain in the second round.

"It felt clean," said Roddick, the 2003 Open champion who
was shocked by Luxembourg's Gilles Muller in the first round
last year.


"I hit them well today. A little short the first couple of
games but I think I broke him more than he held serve today and
that's a large step for me.

"I'm putting a lot of returns in the court and I'm doing
something with them."

The 23-year-old Roddick, who rebounded from an inconsistent
summer by winning the Masters Series event in Cincinnati this
month, kept Serra off-balance by firing 10 aces while getting
70 percent of his first serves in.

Roddick said he enjoys the "presence" of the 53-year-old
Connors, a five-times U.S. Open champion and one of the
greatest players to ever step on the court.

"I'm excited every morning when I wake up to try to learn
new things," said Roddick. "His passion for the game and for
this process is huge. It's contagious."

The 36-year-old Andre Agassi, playing his last tournament
before retiring, was due to play Romanian Andrei Pavel on
Arthur Ashe Stadium in the marquee match of the night session.

Henin-Hardenne overwhelmed Italy's Maria Elena Camerin 6-2
6-1 in 74 minutes, just two days after she captured the New
Haven title in her only post-Wimbledon tournament.


Injury-prone Henin-Hardenne blasted 24 winners past her
bewildered opponent and looked in form despite sitting out much
of the summer with a nagging knee injury.

"The transition from New Haven to here wasn't very easy
because I didn't hit a single ball here on the U.S. Open courts
before my warm-up for my match today but I feel good," she

The 24-year-old Belgian, who won the 2006 French Open and
was a finalist at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, is not
making any predictions about her title chances.

"I'm not thinking too much about what could happen here,"
she said. "I'm healthy. That's very important. My knee is
feeling fine. I just have to be careful."

Advancing along with Henin-Hardenne was Davenport, who
showed no signs of the shoulder injury that forced her to
retire from the New Haven final.

The 1998 champion needed just 52 minutes to stop Czech
Klara Zakopalova 6-1 6-4. Despite the easy victory, the former
world number one was just settling in at Flushing Meadows.

"I'm not looking at the big picture of the whole New York
experience yet," said Davenport. "Today was the first day I
came here. You have to play.

"So I haven't really had time to digest exactly what's
going to happen in the ensuing days or weeks."

Dementieva advanced with a 6-1 6-4 victory over American
Laura Granville, while number six seed and 2004 champion
Svetlana Kuznetsova stumbled briefly but recovered to beat
Germany's Sandra Kloesel 6-2 2-6 6-3.