Sharapova, Roddick advance easily at U.S. Open


Maria Sharapova was positively giddy.

About her sparkling red dress. Her bejeweled handbag. Her picture in the hallway leading to center court. About everything at the U.S. Open, really.

Then someone asked whether, by chance, she ever felt badly for an opponent she was pounding.

Sharapova's eyes narrowed. Her smile disappeared, she shook her head.

"No," she said, flatly.

Decked out for success in an outfit adorned with 600 crystals, Sharapova was all business Tuesday night. Staring the whole way, she humbled Roberta Vinci 6-0, 6-1.

"It's difficult to play against her," the 51st-ranked Italian said. "Strong player. Nice girl. She has a nice dress."

Ah, the red flared shift dress. Plus a cropped black jacket with sheer sleeves, pearl earrings from Tiffany Co. and a patent leather bag for her rackets.

"Put on a nice outfit and some makeup," Sharapova said, "and you're the bomb."

After the second-seeded Russian finished her demolition, Andy Roddick and Justin Gimelstob put on quite a show that capped the day's parade of champions.

Bantering a bit during the match and much more after it ended, Roddick defeated his good friend 7-6 (6), 6-3, 6-3. Then they took turns interviewing each other on the court, and Gimelstob saluted the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium after his final singles match at the U.S. Open.

Asked by Roddick what he'll miss most, Gimelstob answered: "That feeling walking onto center court. You don't get that in the real world," he said.

"We kind of live in a fantasy world," he said.

Later, during a joint interview session, Roddick acted surprised when the 475th-ranked Gimelstob said he planned to play three more tournaments this fall.

"I thought I finished you," Roddick poked.

For former champs Lleyton Hewitt, Martina Hingis, Svetlana Kuznetsova, the Open will go on. Along with Sharapova and Roddick, they all won in straight sets.

Many more big names were set to play Wednesday, with top seeds Roger Federer and Justine Henin, Rafael Nadal and the Williams sisters on the schedule.

For the most part, favorites rolled in the first round. The biggest surprise Tuesday came when No. 9 Daniela Hantuchova, a past U.S. Open quarterfinalist, lost to 50th-ranked Julia Vakulenko of Ukraine 6-4, 3-6, 6-1.

Well, there was another surprise. Known for outlandish outfits, Bethanie Mattek looked downright bizarre in a metallic gold Wonder Woman-inspired costume that made no effort to hide her black bra.

Still, Mattek won.

Sharapova figured to have an easy time against the overmatched Vinci, and it took only 50 minutes to complete the match. Vinci avoided the dreaded "double bagel" &

losses at love in both sets &

by finally winning when she was one game from elimination.

Vinci jumped in the air, windmilled her arm and pumped her fist, and the crowd cheered along with her.

"I win one game, I'm happy," Vinci said. "6-love, 6-love? No. 6-love, 6-1? OK."

Sharapova won the Open last year, and hoped to create more memories.

"I feel like I'm part of its history, for sure," she said. "Every corner I turn here, I get goose bumps."

Her outfit definitely provided a little extra zip. Included her dominance was a run of 13 straight points midway in the second set.

"I was trying to get through my warmup as fast as I could so I could put the dress on, actually," she said. "Not a joke. Was pretty excited about putting it on."

Despite twice double-faulting on match point, Sharapova was sharp.

Her biggest mishap? She missed on a sip of water during a changeover and spilled a spot on her custom-made outfit.

Like Sharapova, Hingis has her picture at the tennis complex. Hingis recently took a walk around the new workout room and smiled when she saw the poster of her clutching the 1997 championship trophy.

"I'm like, 'OK, I look really young.' Short haircut, all that. It's been 10 years," the 26-year-old Hingis said. "Sometimes it feels like yesterday, sometimes like a lifetime."

Hingis beat Mathilde Johansson 6-0, 6-3, Kuznetsova defeated Klara Zakopalova 6-2, 6-3 and Hewitt downed Amer Delic 6-2, 6-4, 6-2.

Third-seeded Novak Djokovic and No. 6 James Blake also won.

Blake, who hopes to someday hoist the silver trophy, rallied in both tiebreakers and beat Michael Russell 7-6 (6), 6-3, 7-6 (4).

Blake made a smart instant-replay challenge in the first-set tiebreaker, prompting his vocal rooting section &

the J-Block &

to start chanting "Har-vard! Har-vard!" He went there for two years before turning pro.

"If it's three sets or five sets, Mike's going to make me work hard," Blake said.

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