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Nadal, Wozniacki Win At US Open

New York : Rafael Nadal began his bid to complete a career Grand Slam at this year's U.S. Open by beating 93rd-ranked Teymuraz Gabashvili of Russia 7-6 (4), 7-6 (4), 6-3 on Tuesday night.   
PTI September 01, 2010 11:15 IST
PTI
New York : Rafael Nadal began his bid to complete a career Grand Slam at this year's U.S. Open by beating 93rd-ranked Teymuraz Gabashvili of Russia 7-6 (4), 7-6 (4), 6-3 on Tuesday night.

   There were no breaks of serve until 3-all in the third set, when top-ranked Nadal finally broke Gabashvili's serve.

The 24-year-old Spaniard broke serve again to end the match, closing with a three-game run.

Nadal saved the only break point he faced.

"My serve worked well. Hopefully, I'll continue like this," Nadal said. "My serve is not my best shot, but I always try hard to keep improving. I know if I want to have chances to win here _ not just this year, but any year _ I need to serve really well."

While it was a straight-set victory, it wasn't necessarily easy for Nadal. He failed to convert any of his first seven break points, and had to weather 49 winners from the big-hitting Gabashvili.

The match lasted nearly three hours and, because it began late after three lengthy contests preceded it in Arthur Ashe Stadium, they didn't finish until 11:32 p.m.

The result extended Nadal's Grand Slam winning streak to 15 matches, after his titles at the French Open in June and Wimbledon in July. He has eight major championships, but has yet to make it past the semifinals at Flushing Meadows, losing at that stage each of the past two years.

Nadal hopes to become the seventh man in tennis history with at least one title from each of the four Grand Slam tournaments.

Gabashvili, meanwhile, has lost in the first round of the U.S. Open two consecutive years. His best showing at a major tournament came at Roland Garros this season, when he upset Andy Roddick on the way to the fourth round.

In the second round, Nadal will face 39th-ranked Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan, who beat Maximo Gonzalez of Argentina 7-5, 7-5, 6-1 earlier Tuesday.

In the women's section,  Caroline Wozniacki won her first match as a Grand Slam tournament's No. 1-seeded player, beating NCAA champion Chelsey Gullickson 6-1, 6-1.  

Because of long matches earlier, this one began at 11:52 p.m. Tuesday night and ended at 12:53 a.m. Wednesday.

"Thank you for sticking around," 2009 U.S. Open runner-up Wozniacki told what was left of the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd afterward, "even though I know it's been a long night."

"She's hitting the ball really hard. She has a really great game," said Wozniacki, who turned 20 in July. "I know it's tough to be here for the first time ... but I'm sure with experience, she'll be back and play even stronger."

Wozniacki has been on quite a run lately. The victory over gave her wins in 15 of her last 16 matches. She's won three of the four tournaments she entered before arriving in New York, including a title at New Haven, Connecticut on Saturday. All of those events were on hard courts, just like the U.S. Open.

Summary : A look at Tuesday's play at the $22.7 million U.S. Open tennis championships:

MEN'S SEEDED WINNERS: First Round: No. 1 Rafael Nadal, No. 3 Novak Djokovic, No. 8 Fernando Verdasco, No. 10 David Ferrer, No. 19 Mardy Fish, No. 23 Feliciano Lopez and No. 31 David Nalbandian.

MEN'S SEEDED LOSERS: No. 16 Marcos Baghdatis, No. 24 Ernests Gulbis, No. 28 Radek Stepanek and No. 30 Juan Monaco.

WOMEN'S SEEDED WINNERS: First Round: No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, No. 4 Jelena Jankovic, No. 7 Vera Zvonareva, No. 9 Agnieszka Radwanska, No. 11 Svetlana Kuznetsova, No. 14 Maria Sharapova, No. 15 Yanina Wickmayer, No. 18 Aravane Rezai, No. 22 Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, No. 23 Maria Kirilenko, No. 25 Alexandra Dulgheru and No. 31 Kaia Kanepi.

WOMEN'S SEEDED LOSERS: No. 8 Li Na, No. 17 Nadia Petrova, No. 26 Lucie Safarova and No. 30 Yaroslava Shvedova.

TOP PLAYERS ON COURT WEDNESDAY: Men: No. 4 Andy Murray vs. Lukas Lacko, No. 7 Tomas Berdych vs. Michael Llodra, No. 9 Andy Roddick vs. Janko Tipsarevic, No. 18 John Isner vs. Frederico Gil; Women: No. 2 Kim Clijsters vs. Sally Peers, No. 3 Venus Williams vs. Rebecca Marino, No. 5 Sam Stosur vs. Anastasia Rodionova, No. 6 Francesca Schiavone vs. Maria Elena Camerin, No. 12 Elena Dementieva vs. Sybille Bammer.