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Halep Takes Down Li, Ivanovic Dedicates Win

No reigning Grand Slam champions are left in the draw after Li Na lost to Simona Halep.

Published August 30, 2011 12:00

Halep Takes Down Li, Ivanovic Dedicates Win
Simona Halep

NEW YORK, NY, USA - Serbia's Top 2 players were both straight set winners at the US Open on Tuesday, with Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic moving through to the second round. World No.1 Caroline Wozniacki also won.

Jankovic, the No.11 seed who reached her only Grand Slam final right here in 2008, needed just 58 minutes to beat American wildcard Alison Riske, 62 60. Jankovic was a runner-up to Serena Williams here three years ago.

Ivanovic, the No.16 seed, was moved to Arthur Ashe Stadium and took control against Ksenia Pervak with her big forehand, firing 12 winners off that wing alone to beat the Russian lefty, 64 62. Afterwards in her on-court interview, she dedicated the win to her grandfather, who passed away on Saturday.

"I was dealing with a lot of things, a lot of issues out there, but I just had to put it all aside and focus on hitting the ball," Ivanovic said in her press conference. "There were moments it crept in, but it was important to just be in the moment.

"We are a very close family. I grew up spending almost every weekend with them. It's hard. It hurts. I just kept thinking I'm doing it for him."

The two highest seeds in action also cruised ahead, first No.4 seed Victoria Azarenka, who overpowered Swedish No.1 Johanna Larsson, 63 61, showing little sign of the hand injury that forced her to pull out of the doubles final in Toronto and the whole event in Cincinnati. "I'm not feeling my hand, so I'm ready to go," she said. "I prepared really well and am ready for this tournament."

Wozniacki, the No.1 seed, followed Azarenka on Arthur Ashe with a 63 61 win over Spain's Nuria Llagostera Vives. "First match is always tough to indicate anything, but I'm happy to be through," she said. "Nuria isn't a very tall player, so I tried to open up the court a little bit more and then tried to take advantage of the short balls I got. I feel like I'm on the right track with my game right now."

Azarenka was asked whether she had any sympathy for Wozniacki, who has been No.1 for 46 weeks now but is still seeking a first Grand Slam. "People love to put pressure on players - it's a matter of time. She's been showing some consistent results. We are trying our best. Sometimes it doesn't happen in a day, or in a year or two - how long did it take Li Na to win a Grand Slam?"

Speaking of Li, the No.6-seeded 29-year-old became the second reigning Grand Slam champion in two days to fall first round at the last Slam of the year. A day after No.5 seed and Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova was ousted by Alexandra Dulgheru, Li came undone against another Romanian, Simona Halep, hitting 54 unforced errors to lose to the world's No.1 teenager, 62 75.

"Two years in a row now I've lost first round here, first round Indian Wells, first round Miami. Normally I like hardcourts a lot, but these two years I'm doing terribly," Li said. "I'm working harder now than I was before. It's not easy."

"I played with Kuznetsova two weeks ago and I won, and I played a good match with Serena at Wimbledon, but this one is my best," Halep said. "I was nervous before the match, because it's not easy to play a Grand Slam champ. But I just wanted to enjoy it. I was feeling the ball well and trying my best."

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