Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Nadal, Serena win openers

Defending champ Rafael Nadal is broken six times in winning his U.S. Open opener, 6-3, 7-6 (7-1), 7-5 over Andrey Golubev.

Associated Press

Defending champ Rafael Nadal is broken six times in winning his U.S. Open opener, 6-3, 7-6 (7-1), 7-5 over Andrey Golubev.

NEW YORK — Rafael Nadal opened defense of his U.S. Open title with a tougher-than-expected win Tuesday night, 6-3, 7-6 (7-1), 7-5 over 98th-ranked Andrey Golubev.

In the late match, Serena Williams began with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Bojana Jovanovski.

Coming off two disappointing results in the leadup to Flushing Meadows, Nadal, seeded second, staved off seven set points in the second set and needed to rally from two breaks down in the third. Nadal, who was broken twice in the first six matches en route to the title last year, was broken six times in his first match this year. "Well," he conceded, "I was a little bit lucky to win (Tuesday) in straight sets."

His next match is against Nicolas Mahut, who lost a 70-68 fifth set to John Isner at Wimbledon last year.

Williams played her first singles match at Flushing Meadows since her ugly exit in the 2009 semifinals, when she was disqualified for a profanity-laced, racket-brandishing tirade at a line judge after a foot-fault call. Williams, who missed last year's tournament with a foot injury, was greeted warmly by the crowd Tuesday.

Nadal expended a lot more energy in his match than Novak Djokovic, who overtook him at No. 1 in the rankings last month. Playing his first match since Aug. 21, when he quit because of a sore and tired right shoulder, the top-seeded Djokovic built a 6-0, 5-1 lead before qualifier Conor Niland stopped after 44 minutes, suffering from food poisoning.

Djokovic began with a 121 mph service winner. Four points later, he closed that game with a 120 mph ace. He whipped forehands where he wanted them and returned well.

"Great opening performance," Djokovic said. "(Tuesday) I didn't feel any pain. I served well, and I played well, so I have no concern."

He improved to 58-2 with nine 2011 titles, including Wimbledon and the Australian Open.

Other men's winners included No. 11 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Tampa resident James Blake. Tsonga's next opponent is Sergei Bubka, son of the pole-vault world record-holder of the same name, who is a qualifier ranked 207th and won his first Grand Slam match Tuesday.

Back on the women's side, French Open champion Li Na lost in the first round for the second straight year, 6-2, 7-5 to 53rd-ranked Simona Halep, and top seed Caroline Wozniacki defeated Nuria Llagostera Vives 6-3, 6-1.

Since becoming China's first major singles champion in June, Li is 5-6, including exiting in the second round at Wimbledon.

"Always easy to say, 'I want to do, I would like to do,' but always lose early," Li said. "Now I even lose all the confidence on the court. I was feeling, 'Oh, tennis just too tough for me.' "

Wozniacki — No. 1 for most of the past year but lacking a Grand Slam trophy — has a new coach but refused to say who it is. "If he wants to be in the background and not have his name out, I have to respect that," she said.

.Fast facts

U.S. Open

Today's key matches

Men: No. 4 Andy Murray vs. Somdev Devvarman, No. 6 Robin Soderling vs. Louk Sorensen, No. 18 Juan Martin del Potro vs. Filippo Volandri.

Women: No. 2 Vera Zvonareva vs. Kateryna Bondarenko, No. 3 Maria Sharapova vs. Anastasiya Yakimova, No. 8 Marion Bartoli vs. Christina McHale.

TV: 11 a.m., Tennis Channel;

1 and 7 p.m., ESPN2

Nadal, Serena win openers 08/30/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 31, 2011 12:10am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Good to be bad? Dirk Koetter's call for bold, brash Bucs


    Is being a badass team all about swagger and toughness? "Our whole thing is about competing," Bucs coach Dirk Koetter says. (Loren Elliott | Times)
  2. Ole Miss football coach Hugh Freeze resigns over 'inappropriate conduct' (w/ video)


    OXFORD, Miss. — Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze was at Jackson Country Club on Wednesday night, giving his yearly rah-rah speech about the Rebels overcoming adversity and getting ready for the college football season.

    If Hugh Freeze hadn’t resigned, Ole Miss says it would have fired him for violating his contract’s moral turpitude clause.
  3. Fennelly: With playoff chase in high gear, it's time for Rays to make a move

    The Heater


    Thursday was an off-day for the Rays, who are coming off a solid western swing. I assume there was no rest for the tag-team Rays baseball brain trust of Matt Silverman, Erik Neander and Chaim Bloom, whose job it is to improve this team in advance of the trade deadline. They've done a good job …

    Evan Longoria is glad to see the Rangers coming to town: He’s batting .296 against them with 15 homers and 56 RBIs in 69 career games.
  4. Rays vs. Rangers, 7:10 p.m. Friday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Rangers

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Alex Cobb #53 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
  5. Good news for Rays on Steven Souza Jr. as MRI shows 'no damage' to hip


    The Rays got good news today on RF Steven Souza Jr., as an MRI showed "no damage" to his left hip.

    Steven Souza Jr. #20 of the Tampa Bay Rays holds his leg after hurting himself trying to steal second base in the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland Alameda Coliseum on July 19, 2017 in Oakland, California.