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Caroline Wozniacki lost her second straight grand slam match.
Wednesday August 29, 2012

NEW YORK -- Slowed by a right knee injury, eighth-seeded Caroline Wozniacki failed to make it out of the first round of her second straight Grand Slam tournament, falling 6-2, 6-2 to 96th-ranked Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania at the U.S. Open on Tuesday.

Wozniacki quit after the first set of her semifinal match last Friday in New Haven. Four days later, she was ousted from the U.S. Open, finishing the match with tape that trainers applied to her hurting knee during an injury timeout in the second set.

Begu got her first U.S. Open win.

Earlier in the day, Andy Roddick used 20 aces to dispatch fellow American Rhyne Williams 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. Heading into his Grand Slam debut, the 283rd-ranked Williams had one primary concern: "I was just hoping he wasn't going to go at me with a serve."

"I'm like, ‘Oh, no. Where's he going?' That's the first thing I thought of. Then it was, ‘It'll be great. I can play in front of a big crowd.' It was quite an experience," said Williams, the NCAA runner-up for the University of Tennessee last year and a 12-year-old when Roddick won the U.S. Open in 2003.

That was the last Grand Slam singles title for an American man, the longest drought in history for a country that produced the likes of Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors (not to mention others such as Bill Tilden or Don Budge).


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Roddick found himself in an era dominated by Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal -- and, more recently and to a lesser extent, Novak Djokovic, who began defense of his U.S. Open title by overwhelming 69th-ranked Paolo Lorenzi of Italy 6-1, 6-0, 6-1 on Tuesday night -- and while he is without a second major championship for his resume, he kept adapting his game to try to do just that.

Roddick dedicated himself to stronger fitness. He learned a better backhand. He improved his volleying.

"I saw the way the game was going. You have to get stronger and quicker. I don't think there was much room for a plodder who could hit the ball pretty hard," Roddick said. "It was a conscious effort, at times, and I feel like that's added to longevity a little bit."

Following Roddick into Arthur Ashe Stadium was 32-year-old Venus Williams, playing her first U.S. Open match since she pulled out before the second round in 2011 and revealed she had been diagnosed with an autoimmune
disease.

"Honestly, I didn't even understand what I was going through at that time last year. I feel like just this summer I've come to acceptance. Like it takes a long time to come to acceptance, especially when you're an athlete. You see yourself as this healthy person that nothing can defeat you," Williams said. "So it takes a while before you can kind of see yourself as someone with flaws and chips in the armor. Now that I have come to accept it, it helps me a lot in how I need to prepare for my matches, the mindset I need to come into it."

After a shaky start, dropping the first two games -- and even seven points in a row in one stretch -- Williams used her own powerful serve to right herself and beat Bethanie Mattek-Sands of the U.S. 6-3, 6-1. One serve at 124 mph jammed Mattek-Sands' left index finger, shoving it into a racket string so hard she needed attention from a trainer.

"She was crushing her serves," Mattek-Sands said. "I don't think anyone's returning those, so I'm not going to beat myself up too much."

Venus Williams won the 2000 and 2001 U.S. Opens, two of her seven career Grand Slam titles. That's half as many as her younger sister, Serena, who began her bid for No. 15 with a 6-1, 6-1 victory over 75th-ranked CoCo Vandeweghe in Tuesday's last match in Ashe, yet another all-American affair.

"Venus is amazing. She's the ultimate role model for me," Serena Williams said. "She's the ultimate fighter and champion -- everything she's gone through and is going through. I have no excuses any more. She makes me a better person."

The younger Williams won the U.S. Open in 1999, 2002 and 2008, and is among the favorites in 2012 considering the way she dominated the competition recently while winning Wimbledon and a gold medal at the London Olympics.

"We need more American champions here to hold up these amazing trophies," Serena Williams said.

Three of the day's most notable upsets were turned in by young, up-and-coming Americans. In singles, 19-year-old Sloane Stephens, who is ranked 44th, eliminated 2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone 6-3, 6-4. And in doubles, 19-year-old Jack Sock and 22-year-old Steve Johnson knocked out the top-seeded team of Max Mirnyi of Belarus and Daniel Nestor of Canada 1-6, 7-6 (4), 6-2, while brothers Ryan and Christian Harrison defeated last year's runners-up, Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski of Poland 7-6 (3), 2-6, 7-6 (7).