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Venus, Henin, Safin, win at U.S. Open

Venus, Henin, Safin, win at U.S. Open

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.
Venus Williams and Justine Henin also moved on, along with former No. 1 Carlos Moya, while Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were playing late matches on Wednesday.
Williams overcame six double-faults and 20 unforced errors to beat Ioana Raluca Olaru of Romania 6-4, 6-2.
"I'm not stressed out on a few shots," the two-time Open champ said. "I always feel like my game will be there."
Top-ranked Henin defeated Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria 6-4, 6-0 and will meet another qualifier in the third round, Ekaterina Makarova of Russia, who upset Japanese veteran Ai Sugiyama 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.
Other women's winners included 2004 U.S. Open runner-up Elena Dementieva and fifth-seeded Ana Ivanovic.
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.
Ivanovic was into the third round but looking forward to a possible fourth-round shot at Williams, who beat her in the semifinals at Wimbledon before winning her sixth major.
"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 make the Indianapolis final and pushed Rafael Nadal to three sets in the Montreal quarterfinals. In qualifying for the Open, he became the first Canadian in seven years to compete in the main draw.
But despite being up a break in the last two sets, he couldn't cause the Russian to notoriously unravel. Safin served out of trouble with 19 aces, and claimed the few big points in his first match with the Canadian, who missed two set points in the last tiebreaker.
"I tried to keep my focus, tried not to get upset, and just work, otherwise its tough for me to play well, especially when the confidence is not there," Safin said.