No shockers: Big names advance at U.S. Open

NEW YORK -- Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal played like
champs, and former winners Lleyton Hewitt and Marat Safin cruised
in straight sets Wednesday during a hectic afternoon at the U.S.

Andy Roddick, meanwhile, avoided a second-straight birthday loss at the U.S. Open.

A day after rain prevented any matches from being completed Tuesday for
the first time since 1987, virtually the whole tennis world was on
display at Flushing Meadows.

A year after bowing out in U.S. Open's first round on the day he
turned 23, Roddick celebrated turning 24 on Wednesday by reaching
the tournament's third round.

The 2003 U.S. Open champion, seeded ninth this time, beat
Kristian Pless of Denmark 6-3, 7-6 (3), 6-3. It was the day's only
second-round match.

"I hope I'm going to give you guys something better to cheer
about this tournament," Roddick told the crowd. "Going home in
the first round is not fun, I know that."

With new coach Jimmy Connors watching in the stands, Roddick
dominated with his serve, clocking 140 mph, totaling 21 aces and
one double-fault. Roddick faced only two break points and saved
both, including one with a serve-and-volley net rush.

"Overall, I felt like I was cruising through service games
pretty easily," he said.

At the 2005 U.S. Open, Roddick also played at night on his
birthday, but was knocked out in three tiebreakers by Gilles
Muller, the first man from Luxembourg to compete in the tournament.

The top-seeded American, No. 5 James Blake, needed six match points to get through.

In all, 80 matches were on the schedule on Day 3.

With thousands of fans milling around the plaza, the place was
cooking. The scent of grilling hamburgers wafted over outer court
No. 5 -- many years ago, Goran Ivanisevic joked that he never liked
to play there because the smell made him hungry.

The top-seeded Federer rebounded from a startling loss two weeks
ago to overwhelm Wang Yeu-tzuoo 6-4, 6-1, 6-0. Aiming at his third
straight Open title, Federer had won 55 straight matches on North
American hard courts before Andy Murray beat him at the Cincinnati

"I thought I was always in control, obviously," Federer said
after his victory. "I always said I prefer to be the favorite
rather than the underdog. That's worked out for me since I became
No. 1."

Known for his success on clay, the second-seeded Nadal had an
easy time on the hard court. He won the first eight points and beat
1998 Open runner-up Mark Philippoussis 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 in the first

"The last two years, I didn't play very good here, and I want
to play good," said Nadal, a two-time French Open champion who has
never gotten past the third round at this tournament.

Philippoussis still has a big serve, and he used it to pound 19
aces, but Nadal broke him three times. Nadal limited himself to 10
unforced errors, 25 fewer than Philippoussis, and saved all four
break points he faced.

Marat Safin, the 2000 U.S. Open winner, defeated Robin Vik of the
Czech Republic 6-1, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.

Safin has exhibited some bizarre behavior in the past -- he once
dropped his pants after winning a point at the French Open -- but
won in rather routine fashion. He became the most animated when he
called for an instant replay after his serve was ruled out.

The video board showed it was indeed out and Safin spread his
arms wide while a fan yelled out, "Challenge the challenge!"

Through mid-afternoon, there had been 15 challenges at the Open,
resulting in four overturned calls. Safin seemed to think there
should've been more.

"I guess they have to improve a little bit to make sure that
the calls are right," he said. "I don't think it's 100 percent

Nothing if not opinionated, Safin offered thoughts on all sorts
of subjects:

• On the Cincinnati Masters, played in Mason, Ohio: "Go there
and see how depressing that place is."

• On taking a break from coach Peter Lundgren: "I didn't know
where I was going."

• On the state of his career: "I'm not planning to retire. I
still think I can win a lot of tournaments, and I still think I can
win a couple of Grand Slams."

• On people who thought he'd dominate the sport: "The people --
they were wrong."

The 15th-seeded Hewitt, the 2001 U.S. Open champion, beat Albert
Montanes 7-5, 6-4, 6-3 and No. 4 David Nalbandian defeated Michael
Berrer 4-6, 6-7 (2), 6-3, 7-5, 6-2.

Also advancing were No. 10 Fernando Gonzalez, No. 12 Tomas
Berdych and No. 26 Olivier Rochus. Ryan Sweeting, a 19-year-old
wild card from the United States, advanced when his opponent, 2004
French Open runner-up Guillermo Coria, quit during the first set
with an injured right thigh.