Nadal and Elena Dementieva got their US Opens off and running

Reigning Olympic champions Rafael Nadal and Elena Dementieva got their US Opens off and running Monday, facing stiff challenges from a pair of unseeded players.

Nadal, who goes into a Grand Slam ranked No. 1 in the world for the first time, outlasted Bjorn Phau 7-6 (7/4), 6-3, 7-6 (7/4) on day one of the 20.6 million dollar tournament.

"When you win in three sets it is a good results," Nadal said. "I had some difficult moments in the match so that is going to help me be prepared for the pressure moments later on.
"Like Nadal, Dementieva came out shaky but finished on a winning note by brushing aside Akgul Amanmuradova in straight sets.The fifth seed Dementieva hopes her 6-4, 7-5 victory is a stepping stone to better things.
"The first round is never easy," said Dementieva, who stopped Serena Williams and Vera Zvonareva before beating Russian compatriot Dinara Safina in the gold medal match at the Olympics.

The 22-year-old Nadal, of Spain, fired seven aces and hammered 37 winners but it wasn't the opening statement he had hoped for as he needed almost three hours to beat 146th ranked journeyman Phau."I tried to keep my level up.

I tried to hurry him," said Phau who plays mainly on the lower level Challenger circuit. Nadal moves through to the second round where he will face Ryler De Heart who surprised Belgium's Olivier Rochus in a five setter 7-6 (7/4), 5-7, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4.

Nadal has his gold medal to go with his victories at the French Open and Wimbledon this year.Last week he surpassed Roger Federer as the world's top ranked player after spending a record 160 weeks as No. 2.The sky is the limit for Nadal who has eight titles this season but has never made it to a hardcourt Grand Slam final.

Scottish sixth seed Andy Murray, who is looking to improve on his fourth-round finish last year, rolled to a 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 win over Sergio Roitman in his opening match in the final Grand Slam of the season."I didn't lose a serve the whole match," Murray said.

"He was hitting his forehand really hard and making me do a bit of running."It was a decent test and I came through it pretty well."On the women's side of the draw, Dementieva, second seed Jelena Jankovic, third seed Svetlana Kuznetsova, China's Li Na and 23rd seeded Lindsay Davenport, of the US, all advanced.

Dementieva had four double faults and only three aces but made less unforced errors, 20 to 32, than her opponent in the 88 minute match on the main Arthur Ashe Stadium.Dementieva next faces France's Pauline Parmentier, who beat Marina Erakovic of New Zealand 6-3, 7-6 (7/2).Li got off to a disastrous start before coming from behind to beat Israel's Shahar Peer 2-6, 6-0, 6-1 on the Grandstand court.

True to her history of not surrendering easily, Li converted five of six break point chances and won 58 per cent of her second serve points to Peer's 42 per cent.Li made 20 of her 40 total unforced errors in a sloppy first set before she rounded into form in the second and third sets."In the first set I felt like I was playing against a wall," Li said.

"In the second set I told myself to just play your game and don't give up."The lowest seed to get knocked out on the opening day was 10th ranked Anna Chakvetadze who lost to Russian compatriot Ekaterina Makarova 1-6, 6-2, 6-3.

In the night match, former world number one Jankovic launched her quest to reach her first Grand Slam final, cruising past American wild card Coco Vandeweghe 6-3, 6-1.The 23-year-old Serbian has already reached two semifinals in Grand Slams this year (French Open and Australian Open) but has never made it to a final in 20 career major appearances.

This is the sixth straight US Open for second seeded Jankovic who moves through to the second round where she will face Swede Sofia Arvidsson who beat China's Yan Zi 6-2, 6-4.Jankovic needed just 27 minutes to win the second set on Monday, forcing the 16-year-old Vandeweghe into making mistakes especially when the American attacked the net."It is tough to play opponent who doesn't have anything to lose," Jankovic said.

"I didn't know she was 16 until they made the announcement before the match. I did as much as I needed to win the match."Men's second seed Federer, women's world No. 1 Ana Ivanovic and the Williams sisters play their first round matches on Tuesday.


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