DEFENDING champion Andy Roddick unleashed the fastest serve in US Open history on his way to a 6-0, 6-2, 6-2 demolition of Scoville Jenkins yesterday as Wimbledon winner Maria Sharapova’s tournament was almost ended at the first stage.
Roddick fired down a 152mph bullet in his first service game of the night as he overwhelmed Jenkins, the USTA boys’ under-18 national champion, who was appearing in his first tour match.
The second seed raced through his opening match in 72 minutes to set up a potentially tricky second-round meeting with Spain’s Rafael Nadal. "The serve surprised me. When I hit it I didn’t really pay much attention but then I heard a few ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from the crowd," said Roddick.
Sharapova arrived in New York billed as the new queen of tennis after her dazzling win over Serena Williams in the Wimbledon final, but she was forced to rough it against gutsy American Laura Granville, scraping a 6-3, 5-7, 7-5 victory.
The Florida-based Russian mixed sublime winners with a rash of unforced errors but showed real character when she served to stay in the match at 4-5 in the decider. When a fierce first serve finally ended the contest after two hours and nine minutes of pulsating action, she breathed a huge sigh of relief and pumped her fists.
"Tonight was a very tough match, especially as it was my first big night match on Arthur Ashe. I was making so many unforced errors, I was out of it at times," she said.
Of the other first-round matches in the men’s singles, South African Wayne Ferreira said goodbye to the men’s tour after a 1-6, 5-7, 4-6 loss to No4 seed Lleyton Hewitt, a match that took just over an hour and a half. "Knowing it was his last grand slam made it a little tough out there," said Australian Hewitt.
Russia’s Marat Safin, the 2000 champion, suffered his earliest US Open exit in six attempts as the 13th seed slumped to a 6-7, 4-6, 6-3, 3-6 defeat to experienced Swede Thomas Enqvist, while last year’s beaten finalist Juan Carlos Ferrero scrambled past Czech qualifier Tomas Zib 4-6, 7-5, 7-6, 6-7, 6-3.
While Hewitt was perhaps the most impressive player on show yesterday and Roddick served a record-breaking serve, it was Serena Williams who again grabbed the attention by wearing another raunchy outfit. Dressed in a black, jewel-encrusted two-piece and wearing long black boots, Serena’s powers failed her briefly when she let slip a 4-2 lead in the first set as Linda Lee-Waters, the world No86, hit back to level at 4-4.
The third seed and two-time champion stepped up her game when she needed to, though, and won 6-4, 6-3 to reach the third round and a meeting with Tatiana Golovin of France.
Eleventh seed Venus Williams also moved through with an unconvincing 6-3, 7-6 win against Hungary’s Petra Mandula, while Amelie Mauresmo’s hopes of a first grand slam title remained intact after she came from behind to beat Ukraine’s Julia Vakulenko 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.
Fifth-seed Lindsay Davenport, who is one of the favourites to challenge holder Justine Henin-Hardenne for the title, cruised into the second round with a 6-4, 6-0 defeat of Slovakia’s Lubomira Kurhajcova - her 18th consecutive victory. French Open champion Anastasia Myskina, was equally impressive, crushing Ludmila Cervanova 6-1, 6-0 in 42 minutes to lead a total of 11 Russian women into the second round.
Tim Henman, who booked his place in the second round with a five-set victory over Ivo Karlovic on Tuesday despite aggravating a back problem, is back on court today against Frenchman Jerome Golmard and is confident of averting an injury crisis.
"I have been assured I am doing no lasting damage by playing so it is just a case of taking one match at a time. I’m pretty confident I can only feel better by the time my next match comes around," said the British No1. "It is just a case of taking care of my body in the best way I can until Thursday."
Golmard, also injury prone, is 149 places beneath Henman in the Champions’ Race.
US OPEN (Flushing Meadows, New York). Men’s Singles. First round (selected scores): (4) L Hewitt (Aus) bt W Ferreira (SA) 1-6, 5-7, 4-6; J Melzer (Aut) bt G Carraz (Fra) 7-5, 6-0, 4-6, 6-3; (12) S Grosjean (Fra) bt Olivier Patience (France) 7-5, 6-7 (6-8), 6-2, 6-1; (2) A Roddick (US) bt S Jenkins (US) 6-0 6-2 6-2; D Tursunov (Rus) bt M Zabaleta (Arg) 4-6 6-3 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-2, A Martin (Spa) bt A Dupuis (Fra) 3-6 6-2 6-4 6-4, (22) D Hrbaty (Svk) bt O Hernandez (Spa) 6-1 6-2 6-1, (5) T Henman (Gbr) bt I Karlovic (Cro) 7-6 (7-3) 6-7 (7-9) 4-6 6-4 6-4, (7) J C Ferrero (Spa) bt T Zib (Cze) 4-6 7-5 7-6 (8-6) 6-7 (4-7) 6-3, (28) J Johansson (Swe) bt Yen-Hsun Lu (Tpe) 6-3 6-1 6-3, T Enqvist (Swe) bt (13) M Safin (Rus) 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 3-6 6-3, (18) T Robredo (Spa) bt D Udomchoke (Tha) 6-4 7-5 6-4, (29) G Canas (Arg) bt K Vliegen (Bel) 6-3 4-6 7-5 6-1. Women’s Singles. First round: (31) M Vento-Kabchi (Ven) bt J Schruff (Ger) 6-1, 2-6, 6-2; (3) S Williams (US) bt L Lee-Waters (US) 6-4, 6-3; (2) A Mauresmo (Fra) bt J Vakulenko (Ukr) 3-6, 6-2, 6-2; D Hantuchova (Slvk) bt (17) A Molik (Aus) 6-4, 6-3; J Kostanic (Croatia) by E Linetskaya (Russia) 6-4 6-3; (15) P Schnyder (Switzerland) bt I Benesova (Cze) 6-4 6-1; (12) A Sugiyama (Jpn) bt G Dulko (Arg) 6-2 6-4; (1) J Henin-Hardenne (Bel) bt N Vaidisova (Cze) 6-1 6-4; L Raymond (US) bt A Jidkova (Rus) 7-5 6-3, (9) S Kuznetsova (Rus) bt S Karatancheva (Bul) 6-2 6-0, (7) M Sharapova (Rus) bt L Granville (US) 6-3 5-7 7-5, (4) A Myskina (Rus) bt L Cervanova (Svk) 6-1 6-0, (11) V Williams (US) bt P Mandula (Hun) 6-3 7-6 (7-3), (5) L Davenport (US) bt L Kurhajcova (Svk) 6-4 6-0.