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. Chris Archer knocked out early as Rays lose to Orioles (w/video)

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — Another short outing by Chris Archer led to another long afternoon for the Rays in a 9-4 loss to the Orioles on Sunday.

  2. Bucs-Vikings report card: Where's this explosive offense we heard about all offseason?


    O NO

    True, the Bucs defense looked pretty leaky in the 34-17 loss to the Vikings. But you know what needs to happen when the defense is getting torched? The offense needs to step up. In games such as these, with defensive players seemingly getting hurt every play, the offense needs to outscore the other …

    Minnesota Vikings cornerback Trae Waynes (26) intercepts a Jameis Winston pass intended for wide receiver DeSean Jackson (11) during the first half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  3. Bucs-Vikings: Instant analysis from Tampa Bay's 34-17 loss


    MINNEAPOLIS — Here's Rick Stroud and Tom Jones' instant analysis from the Bucs' 34-17 loss at Minnesota Sunday. More to come from Rick & Tom — and Greg Auman —- from Minneapolis later today.

    Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jarius Wright (17) dives over the pylon for a touchdown as  Bucs cornerback Ryan Smith (29) defends. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  4. Worst-Case scenario: Case Keenum, Vikings hand Bucs 34-17 loss


    MINNEAPOLIS — With key defensive starters out with injury, the Bucs were dominated by the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, with fill-in quarterback Case Keenum beating Tampa Bay for the third year in a row, …

    Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston (3) is sacked by Minnesota Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen (97) during the first half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  5. Bucs-Vikings: A by-the-numbers look at the Bucs' 34-17 loss


    Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Clinton McDonald (98) hits Minnesota Vikings quarterback Case Keenum (7) as he passes during the first half of an NFL game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn., on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times