Defending champion Marat Safin of Russia appears to be playing well again at the U.S. Open tennis championships in Flushing Meadow, New York. Safin has reached the second round after a straight sets win Monday. Tim Henman of Britain is the only men's seed to struggle so far in early action.
Safin is a mercurial talent. In winning this title last year, he showed a formidable style, the stuff of greatness, making Pete Sampras look ordinary. For most of this year, Safin has been worse than ordinary himself, but he is glad to be back defending his title, and he made light work of a French qualifier Sebastien De Chaunac, with the loss of only eight games.
It has been said that Russians win one year and celebrate for the next. But playing the way he did on Monday, he could be a threat again to the more fancied players.
Henman could be expected to perform well, given his play since his Wimbledon semi-final victory. But he threw away a two set lead against another qualifier, the Czech, Jan Vacek, before edging through in five. "My stomach did not feel particularly good and then obviously with the humidity I was sweating a lot, so I was getting a little bit dehydrated. It was a mental and a physical battle, perhaps more so than a tennis battle", Henman said. A battle set for day two: Jan Michael Gambill against former finalist Cedric Pioline. Sampras, Andy Roddick, Venus Williams, and Jennifer Capriati all play.