From the baseline

August 30, 2010

Melanie Oudin of the U.S. eyes a return to Olga Savchuk of Ukraine during the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, August 30, 2010. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Some big names on opening day at Flushing Meadows, with a birthday win for Andy Roddick and a nervous start for fifth seed Robin Soderling.

It seemed an easy opener for defending champ Kim Clijsters, but a scare in the second set could have seen the first big upset at the last grand slam of the year. But the Belgian overcame Gerta Arn 6-0 7-5 in her first tie of the tournament.

The fresh young face of Melanie Oudin – a favorite at last year’s event – graced center court to brush aside her struggles of the past season and powered past Olga Savchuk 6-3 6-0.

But the biggest names in the game buzzed around the tennis world as Swiss master Roger Federer prepared for his highlight match of day one at the Arthur Ashe Stadium against Argentinian Brian Dubal.

Federer and his long-standing rival of  modern-day tennis, Rafael Nadal, have never faced-off at the U.S. Open. Ticket-holders and sports fans the world over are hoping for a first here this year. With Nadal seeded number one and Federer number two, it could well happen. Nadal takes on Teymuraz Gabashvili in the night match of day two.

Meanwhile, the biggest name to head home after day one was former world number one Dinara Safina. The Russian suffered an early exit at the hands of Slovakia’s Daniela Hantuchova, falling 6-3 6-4, and has slipped 49 places over the last 12 months.

Andy Roddick pumps his fist after winning the first set against Thiemo De Bakker of the Netherlands during their second round match at the Cincinnati Masters tennis tournament in Cincinnati, Ohio August 18, 2010. REUTERS/John Sommers II

Andy Roddick was the happy story of the day, celebrating his 28th birthday with a clear win. He brushed passed France’s Stephane Robert 6-3 6-2 6-2 in his first-round opener. The top-ranked American – seeded ninth in New York – served just eight aces but sailed through the 102-minute match on a hot sunny day at Flushing Meadows.

A good start to the tournament. Lets see what day two brings.

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