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Top Players Win on Style Points at Open

Times Staff Writer

Call it a tennis feast, following tennis famine.

After a day when no matches were completed because of rain, the best tennis players in the world made up for lost time Wednesday at the U.S. Open.

There was creativity, boldness and one miscue. And those were just the fashion choices from the women -- Maria Sharapova’s Audrey Hepburn-inspired black dress, Serena Williams’ “royal purple” frock with a splash of Asian influence, and Bethanie Mattek, who looked like she got lost on her way to a toga party.

Then there were the choices of the shot-making variety. The third-seeded Sharapova of Russia took care of Michaella Krajicek of the Netherlands in less than an hour, winning 6-3, 6-0, in the first round. She did it with a superb serving display, calling it the best of her young career, hitting 10 aces and never facing break point.

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Ninth-seeded Andy Roddick, who has been linked to Sharapova, celebrated his 24th birthday by defeating qualifier Kristian Pless of Denmark, 6-3, 7-6 (3), 6-3, in the second round, hitting 21 aces and double faulting just once.

He denied dating Sharapova and also, when reminded he could play Andre Agassi in the fourth round, said: “Yeah, thanks.”

He also was asked about 18-year-old wild card Sam Querrey of Thousand Oaks, who won his Grand Slam singles debut, defeating Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. Roddick joked that Querrey was “pledging” on the Davis Cup team.

The pledge himself couldn’t have been more pleased. “I thought I played great,” said Querrey, whose fastest serve was clocked at 137 miles an hour. “One of my best matches of the year. Served really well. Just my forehand, I was just crushing it all day.”

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Two former U.S. Open champions, Serena Williams and eighth-seeded Martina Hingis, faced different tests in the first round. Hingis was in danger of exiting in the first round at a Grand Slam for the first time since she returned to the tour in January, dropping the first set against Peng Shuai of China.

Then Hingis’ mind started working and she kicked from defense into offense. Her effectiveness at the net in the second and third set was nearly perfect; she was nine for 10 in the latter two sets.

Williams, a wild-card entrant, never looked threatened against Lourdes Dominguez Lino of Spain, who was making her Open debut. Williams won in 55 minutes and never faced a break point in her 6-1, 6-2 victory.

Her opponent in the next round will be familiar, Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia. Hantuchova, who beat Mattek, 7-5, 6-3, in the first round, defeated Williams at the Australian Open in January and lost to her in three sets a few weeks ago in Carson.

There, Williams took an injury timeout and Hantuchova criticized it, saying she didn’t think it was the “right way” to handle things. Williams was less than thrilled by the remarks.

Hantuchova backed off of those comments here but did not do so when asked about something else she said in Carson. Hantuchova implied to the website tennisreporters.net that Williams bumped into her on a changeover during that match.

“She always does that. Not only [against] me,” Hantuchova said Wednesday. “She just goes her way and expects everyone else to move away.”

So how about their next match, in New York?

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“Just going to go my way,” Hantuchova said. “I don’t know how to say this in English, but we have this saying in Slovakia, usually the smartest people let the others go through.”

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U.S. Open

DAY SESSION

* Jelena Kostanic, Croatia, vs. Lindsay Davenport (10)

* Luis Horna, Peru, vs. Rafael Nadal (2), Spain

* Serena Williams vs. Daniela Hantuchova (17), Slovakia

* Vania King vs. Justine Henin-Hardenne (2), Belgium

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* Maria Sharapova (3), Russia, vs. Emilie Loit, France

* Amelie Mauresmo (1), France, vs. Meghann Shaughnessy

NIGHT SESSION

* Virginie Razzano, France, vs. Martina Hingis (8), Switzerland

* Marcos Baghdatis (8), Cyprus, vs. Andre Agassi


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