It took just one break of serve for Andy Roddick to feel he was on his way to victory as he steamrollered his first US Open opponent to erase the painful memory of last year’s shock first-round exit.
The American number nine seed and 2003 champion began what he hopes will be a long run with a 6-2 6-1 6-3 win over Frenchman Florent Serra.
Roddick felt he was on the road to victory as early as the sixth game of the opening set, when he broke serve for the first time to open a 4-2 lead and pumped the air with his fist.
“I just felt it,” Roddick said. “I felt like, OK, well, now the Open’s started. I’m getting up. I feel like I’m playing OK. I was just excited to get off to a good start.”
Twelve months ago, the 2003 champion had been stunned by a straight-sets defeat at the hands of Gilles Muller, and did not win a tournament in 2006 until the Cincinnati Masters Series event just over a week ago.
With new coach Jimmy Connors watching from the players’ box at Arthur Ashe Stadium, Roddick quickly eased fears of a repeat shock by taking the first set in 26 minutes and got progressively quicker, rattling through sets two and three.
He gave Serra little chance until the Frenchman broke back on Roddick’s serve to go to 5-3 down in third.
The inevitability of defeat quickly was restored, however, as Roddick broke back to take the match in one hour, 15 minutes.
“It felt clean,” Roddick said of his quick victory. “I didn’t hit yesterday. I got a very short warm-up but I’ve been hitting the ball pretty well. It’s a lot better than last year, better start. I’m really, really confident right now – feel good.”
In the first big upset of the tournament, No. 3 Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia was defeated with alarming ease by Spaniard Feliciano Lopez, 6-3 6-3 6-3.
Other seeds to fall were No 19 Dominik Hrbaty of Slovakia, who lost to Russian Mikhail Youzhny in straight sets, and No 24 Jose Acasuso of Argentina, who was outlasted in five sets by Thailand’s Paradorn Srichaphan.
Seeded men’s winners included No 6 Tommy Robredo of Spain, No 8 Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus, No 20 Novak Djokovic of Serbia and No 25 Richard Gasquet of France.