Fourth seed David Ferrer passed a potentially dangerous test with flying colours as he defeated big-serving South African Kevin Anderson in the first round of the US Open.
Ferrer has been elevated into the top four because of the absence through injury of his fellow Spaniard Rafael Nadal and is seeded to meet Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals.
Although he is more renowned for this exploits on clay, Ferrer has had just as good results on hard courts and reached the last four in New York in 2007, losing to Djokovic.
At 6ft 8in tall, Anderson is not an opponent to be underestimated, but Ferrer was in control throughout and won 6-4 6-2 7-6 (7/3) to set up a second-round meeting with Dutchman Igor Sijsling, who beat Daniel Gimeno-Traver 7-5 6-3 6-4.
Ferrer was very content with his performance, saying: “[I feel good. It was not an easy match. He’s a really good player, he has a very strong first and second serve. I’m happy because I played good in my first round.”
Serbian 29th seed Viktor Troicki went out in the first round, losing 6-4 6-4 3-6 6-2 to Germany’s Cedrik-Marcel Stebe.
Eighth seed Janko Tipsarevic looked like he was on his way out when he trailed French wild card Guillaume Rufin by two sets but the Serb fought his way back to win 4-6 3-6 6-2 6-3 6-2. Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller then became the eighth player this tournament to recover from such a situation to beat 28th seed Mikhail Youzhny 2-6 3-6 7-5 7-6 (8/6) 7-6 (8/6).
The success of America’s Brian Baker has been one of the stories of the season and he was a 6-3 6-4 6-2 winner over Jan Hajek yesterday seven years after his last US Open victory. The 27-year-old was one of the world’s top juniors and was beginning to make progress when injuries struck, ruling him out of the game for six years.
Most people thought Baker had retired but he gave the game one last go last autumn and was so successful that he is now ranked 70th and reached the fourth round of Wimbledon as a qualifier.
Meanwhile, world number one women’s player Victoria Azarenka continued her smooth progress though the US Open draw with a 6-2 6-2 victory over qualifier Kirsten Flipkens. It was not quite as straightforward as the scoreline suggests, with many of the games close, but in the end Azarenka was too powerful and too consistent for her opponent.
A break in the third game of the match set Azarenka on her way and, although Belgian Flipkens briefly threatened a revival at the start of the second set, it was not to be.
Azarenka clenched her fist as she broke once more to lead 5-2 and then served out victory after an hour and five minutes. The Belarusian is looking for her second grand slam title of the year after winning the Australian Open in January and she next faces Chinese 28th seed Zheng Jie, a 6-3 6-1 winner over Magdalena Rybarikova.
Azarenka was happy to come through in windy conditions, saying: “I think it was another good performance today. It was a little bit difficult with the wind.
“I think I adjusted really well. Her game is also a little bit unpredictable. She likes to move the opponent around. She has different variety. It wasn’t as easy maybe as the score was, but I think I played well.”
American wild card Mallory Burdette continued her dream run with a 6-2 6-4 victory over Czech Lucie Hradecka. The 21-year-old studies psychology at Stanford and, as an amateur, cannot pick up the US dollars 65,000 cheque for reaching the third round. Burdette is likely to meet third seed Maria Sharapova next, and she said: “I have already checked the amateur box so you can’t go back once the tournament starts. It’s done.”
Czech Lucie Safarova, the 15th seed, was given a real test by Canada’s Aleksandra Wozniak before prevailing 6-3 4-6 6-2 while Nadia Petrova and Varvara Lepchenko are also through.
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