The Australian Open opened play on Monday in Melbourne, bringing tennis back into focus for the first time since the summer's US Open. The tournament's first day was a poor one for Americans has an astounding six yanks were jousted out, leaving Andy Roddick as the only big name countryman left down under.
Seventh-seeded Andy Roddick opened with a straight sets win over Bjorn Rehnquist, with fellow American Mary Fish also winning against Samuel Gorth. Six other Americans made first-round exits: Robby Ginepri, John Isner, Robert Kendrick, Bobby Reynolds, Taylor Dent and Sam Querry.
For Roddick, a big year in 2009 would do a lot to salvage his career which has steadily declined since his pinnacle year of 2003, when he won the US Open. At age 26, the current World No. 8 is long from his World No. 1 form of years past, and a strong showing here could go a long way to solidfy the American game as a whole. Roddick's history in Melbourne has not been terrible, reaching the semis in 2003, 2005, and 2007, but he has yet to reach the final.
Roddick wasn't the only big name on the court Monday, superstar Federer got off to a great start, defeating Andreas Seppi. Federer is looking for grand slam number fourteen, but he will have to go through Rafael Nadal as usual to get his silverware.
Top-ranked Rafael Nadal has his first match Tuesday, when both Serena and Venus Williams also will be in action.
Second-ranked Federer is a huge fan favorite here, and Rod Laver Arena was still packed when he went on court at 10 p.m. under perfect conditions. Camera flashes went off every time he hit a shot.
“Whose house? Roger’s house!” one fan roared.
Federer, who has won three titles here, was clearly focused on proving that fan right.
With Federer poised and ready to reclaim his perch as World No. 1 in 2009, the tennis world could once again be in for another scintilating year.
Photo: NY Daily News