Former champion Marat Safin survived a tough opening match when he defeated Frank Dancevic 7-5, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (7) at the U.S. Open on Wednesday.
Safin, extended in each set by the Canadian enjoying a breakout season, had to stop Dancevic serving for the third set at 6-5 to force the tiebreaker, then had to replay his first match point when the Louis Armstrong Stadium speakers suddenly hissed in the middle of the rally.
Dancevic won the replayed point but the 2000 champ closed it out in 2 hours, 25 minutes of uncommon concentration.
Safin admitted at the French Open his career was going downhill, but he said he was still playing for results like Wednesday's.
"Feeling well after winning a match is the most beautiful feeling I can get," he said.
Also, two-time winner Venus Williams and fifth-seeded Ana Ivanovic moved toward a fourth-round showdown with straight-sets victories in the second round.
Williams dispatched Ioana Raluca Olaru of Romania 6-4, 6-2 while Ivanovic had to rally from a first-set deficit for a second straight match. The 19-year-old Serbian star gave Aravane Rezai of France a 3-1 start then reeled off eight successive games before winning 6-3, 6-1. Ivanovic came from 5-2 down to beat Aiko Nakamura of Japan on Monday.
Williams defeated Ivanovic in the semifinals at Wimbledon before winning her sixth major, and Ivanovic was looking forward to the possible rematch.
"This is a different tournament, different circumstances," Ivanovic said. "I am feeling even fitter than I was in Wimbledon. So I would really like to play against her. I definitely have a chance."
Few give Safin a chance these days. The enigmatic Russian hasn't won a title since claiming his second Grand Slam at the 2005 Australian Open. He can just as easily reach the final as crash early, and he has been doing more of the latter with only one semifinal to his name this year.
"I'm prepared for the worst and hoping for the best," Safin said.
"The worst is I never win and the best is I have a chance to win. I'm never getting past the third round lately so to get to the quarterfinals would be a big deal. I'm not expecting much from this tournament."
Safin's woes were such that he wasn't tipped at the Open to get past Dancevic, who recently defeated Andy Roddick to reach the Indianapolis final and pushed Rafael Nadal to three sets in the Montreal quarterfinals before qualifying for the Open.
But Safin could rely on his serve to get him out of trouble with 19 aces, and experience to claim the few big points in his first match with the Canadian, who squandered being a break up in the last two sets and missed two set points in the last tiebreaker.
Nadal and Roger Federer were playing late matches on Wednesday, along with top-ranked Justine Henin and No. 3 Jelena Jankovic.
In other women's second-round matches, 2004 U.S. Open runner-up Elena Dementieva defeated Czech qualifier Petra Cetkovska 6-3, 6-2 and will next play Sybille Bammer of Austria, while Ekaterina Makarova of Russia upset Ai Sugiyama of Japan 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.