Top seeds safely thru'
Venus Williams enjoyed a "New York Moment" at the U.S. Open. She probably never guessed she'd need one to pull her through the first round.
Dealing with a balky left knee and an opponent who didn't buy into the usual opening-night script, Williams needed 2 hours, 43 minutes to defeat Vera Dushevina of Russia.
The third-seeded Williams, who has never been ousted from the Open before the fourth round, trailed by a set and a break in the second before rallying for a 6-7 (5), 7-5, 6-3 victory Monday.
She didn't want to talk much about the knee, which brought on a 9-minute injury timeout during the first set, but instead preferred to talk about the crowd -- especially the reaction when she was down 5-4 in the second, serving to stay in the match.
"One of those great New York moments," she called it.
Andy Roddick followed her onto the court. His match began at 11:08 p.m., and with blood dripping from a cut on his right ear, he made quick work of Germany's Bjorn Phau, 6-1, 6-4, 6-2.
He was still doing interviews at 1:15 a.m. The main topic: late matches at the U.S. Open.
"It's all part of it," he said. "Kind of the crazies that stay 'till 1 in the morningthere's something fun about that."
Buoyed -- maybe saved -- by that crowd, Williams was the only top contender to face serious trouble on a day that basically went to form.
Top-seeded Roger Federer began the quest for his sixth straight championship and third Grand Slam title of 2009 with a 6-1, 6-3, 7-5 victory over NCAA champion Devin Britton.
"My goal was to not get crushed," Britton conceded, "and make it interesting for a little while."
He was up a break in both the second and third sets, but couldn't capitalize against the world's top player.
Alexa Glatch found herself in essentially the same boat against Serena Williams, pushing the No. 2 seed in the first set before falling quickly in the second of a 6-4, 6-1 loss.
Kim Clijsters was the other headliner on Day 1. The 2005 U.S. Open champion, now with a 1-year-old daughter, returned to Grand Slam tennis after a 2 1/2 -year layoff with an impressive 6-1, 6-1 victory over Viktoriya Kutuzova.
"Now it's a matter of trying to keep this going," Clijsters said.
Other winners included John Isner, the 6-foot-9 American who knocked off No. 28-seeded Victor Hanescu of Romania in straight sets, including a 16-14 tiebreaker in the second; No. 21 James Blake; and French Open runner-up Robin Soderling.
Two-time major champion Amelie Mauresmo won easily, as did No. 7 Vera Zvonareva, No. 8 Victoria Azarenka, No. 10 Flavia Pennetta, No. 12 Agnieszka Radwanska and No. 14 Marion Bartoli, who plays Clijsters next.
Roddick's match was played in front of a half-empty crowd thanks in part to a late start after an hourlong opening ceremony that featured Andre Agassi.
Roddick wasn't complaining, but did say he wouldn't mind seeing the women take the late slot sometime in the future.
Hours earlier, Williams was in trouble from the start. Down a break at 2-1, she took an injury timeout to get her left knee worked on and taped up, though that didn't cure the problems with her serve.
She finished with 10 double faults and seven-foot faults. Ahead 5-3 in the first-set tiebreaker, she hit a great serve but got hit with a foot fault. After a brief discussion with the line judge -- "Which foot, the front one or the back one?" -- she stepped up and served the next ball into the net.
She fell behind 6-5 and Dushevina answered Williams' angle volley with a running, crosscourt backhand for the winner and the set.
It stayed uncomfortable for Venus through most of the second, as well.
"I had 5-4 in the second set and it was maybe little chance," Dushevina said. "It was love-15, but the next few points, she played so great."
The third set wasn't a breeze, but went more to form, with Williams getting an early break and hanging on.
The next big question is how bad her knee really is, and whether it will be ready for the next match.
"I'm not one to complain," Williams said. "Everyone has injuries they're dealing with. I did my best tonight despite everything I was going through. In the next round, I'm just going to do my best to prepare."
Before the Americans took their places under the spotlight, Sania Mirza and Somdev Devvarman sparked off celebrations in their homeland as Monday marked the first time a man and a woman from India reached the second round of the same major.
"For a long time... I was the only one playing singles in the main draw for the grand slams, and it's great that Somdev is playing so well. I'm really happy that we have two Indians in the second round of a slam," Mirza told reporters after beating Belarussian Olga Govortsova 6-2 3-6 6-3.