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US Open top seeds Nadal, Wozniacki capture openers

September 01, 2010

US Open top seeds Rafael Nadal and Caroline Wozniacki moved into the second round on the Flushing Meadows hardcourts while Serbian stars Novak Djokovic and Jelena Jankovic struggled to advance on Day 2.

Reigning Wimbledon and French Open champion Nadal, trying to become the seventh man to complete a career Grand Slam, beat Russian Teymuraz Gabashvili 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/4), 6-3, his only service breaks coming in the last set.

"My serve worked well and I hope to continue like this," Nadal said. "It's not my best shot, but I always work hard at improving it. If I am to have chances to win here one day, I need to serve well."

The 24-year-old Spaniard, who would be the youngest career Slam holder and only the fourth man to win three Slams in a row if he wins this year's US Open, will next face Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan.

Denmark's Wozniacki, seeking her first Grand Slam title after losing to Kim Clijsters in last year's US Open final, romped in her first Grand Slam match as a top seed, eliminating US wild card Chelsey Gullickson 6-1, 6-1 in 61 minutes.

"I'm really happy," Wozniacki said. "The first match is always tough. I'm happy to be through and into the second round."

Wozniacki will face Taiwan's Chang Kai-Chen for a berth in the third round after winning the matchup of 20-year-olds, which did not start until 10 minutes before midnight due to the length of previous Arthur Ashe Stadium matches.

"I didn't feel too nervous. I was just happy to get out there and play. We had waited for a long time," Wozniacki said. "Definitely it was a long night. But a win is a win and if I win I'm happy."

Third seed Djokovic ousted friend and countryman Viktor Troicki 6-3, 3-6, 2-6, 7-5, 6-3 aftr three hours and 40 minutes in the heat to book a place against Germany's Philipp Petzschner.

"Give credit to Viktor. He was playing well and serving incredibly well," he said. "Even if I would lose today it would have been deserved on his side. A couple of points changed the match and I was just fortunate to get through."

Fourth-seeded Jankovic, seeking her first Grand Slam title, edged 96th-rated Romanian teen Simona Halep 6-4, 4-6, 7-5. The 2008 US Open runner-up nearly suffered her first opening-match Slam exit since the 2005 French Open.

"I had to work for every point," Jankovic said. "I wasn't playing my best tennis. I was able to find a way to get through."

Jankovic, who will next play 150th-ranked Croatian qualifier Mirjana Lucic, has faith she has what it takes to win a Grand Slam crown.

"I know I can do that," Jankovic said. "It's just a matter of believing in myself, having the confidence and doing the right things on the court because I really want to get my tennis to another level."

Eighth seed Li Na, the highest Chinese seed in Grand Slam history, lost 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 to Ukraine's Kateryna Bondarenko. The Australian Open semi-finalist had not lost a Grand Slam opener since the 2006 Australian Open.

"It was sad to lose in the first round," Li said. "I just have to forget everything and practice again and hope I come back again soon."

On the men's side, Cypriot 16th seed Marcos Baghdatis went down 6-3, 2-6, 1-6, 6-4, 7-5 to French veteran Arnaud Clement and France's Jeremy Chardy beat Latvian 24th seed Ernests Gulbis 6-2, 7-6 (7/1), 6-4.


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