Sania, Somdev clear first hurdle

Talented duo first Indian man and woman to make second round of same Grand Slam

On Song: Sania Mirza (left) and Somdev Devvarman excelled on the opening day of the US Open tennis championships in New York on Monday. AFP

Mirza defeated Olga Govortsova of Belarus 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 and qualifier Devvarman beat Portugal's Frederico Gil 6-3, 6-4, 6-3.  "For a long time... I was the only one (from India) playing singles in the main draw of the grand slams," said 22-year-old Mirza, playing in her fourth US Open. "It's great that Somdev is playing so well since the beginning of the year and getting better.

"I'm really happy that we have two Indians in the second round of a slam. I don't know if it's ever happened before." Devvarman added: "I don't want to jinx myself but I feel good about where I am. I've had a couple of quality wins.

"It gives me a lot of confidence and belief that I can come out and compete with anyone. My game is up there with the rest." The International Tennis Federation confirmed they became the first Indian duo to advance together in slam singles.

The 162nd-ranked Somdev, the first Indian men’s player to appear in a Grand Slam singles after Prakash Amritraj’s 2002 wild card entry, will take on German 23rd seed Philipp Kohlschreiber, who defeated Italy’s Andreas Seppi 6-0, 6-4, 6-4 in the second round.

Mirza said it was wonderful few days for Indian sport as the milestone in New York followed the success of the Force India Formula One team, which secured pole position for last weekend's Belgian Grand Prix before the outfit's Giancarlo Fisichella finished the race in second place.

"It's great," she said. "Things are looking up. They have been for awhile now, but I guess they're looking further up." Mirza said merely competing at Flushing Meadows was a success for her after a 2008 season in which she was sidelined by a wrist injury and surgery that threatened her career.

"This is my comeback year from injury," said Mirza, who missed some seven months of competition. "Physically I think I've never been fitter, in terms of how I move around the court and hitting the ball but I'm a little rusty."

Mirza said being sidelined for so long made her appreciate what she had taken for granted. "One day you're on the tennis court, you feel, 'Oh, I'm the fittest person, I'm an athlete.' And the next day... I could not even pick up a fork to eat, it was so painful."

Mirza, who reached the fourth round of the Open in 2005, said she had been playing some Challengers tournaments, winning one and reaching the final of another before returning home for more treatments on her wrist.

"I know I have the weapons and know I can do it. Now I play a seed and really I have no pressure," she said about her second-round match against 10th seed Flavia Pennetta of Italy.

Important results
I round, prefix denotes seeding:
Men: 5-Andy Roddick (US) bt Bjorn Phau (Ger) 6-1, 6-4, 6-2; 15-Radek Stepanek (Cze) bt Simone Bolelli (Ita) 6-4, 6-4, 6-4; Leonardo Mayer (Arg) bt Andrey Golubev (Kaz) 6-4, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3; Marc Gicquel (Fra) bt Dmitry Tursunov (Rus) 6-2, 5-7, 6-3, 6-3; Juan Ignacio Chela (Arg) bt Oscar Hernandez (Esp) 6-4, 6-4, 6-2; 23-Philipp Kohlschreiber (Ger) bt Andreas Seppi (Ita) 6-0, 6-4, 6-4; 21-James Blake (US) bt Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo (Esp) 6-1, 6-4, 7-5; 31-Lleyton Hewitt (Aus) bt Thiago Alves (Bra) 6-0, 6-3, 6-4; 20-Tommy Haas (Ger) bt Alejandro Falla (Col) 7-5, 4-6, 7-6(9-7), 6-2; 14-Tommy Robredo (Esp) bt Donald Young (US) 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, 6-3; John Isner (US) bt 28-Victor Hanescu (Rom) 6-1, 7-6 (16-14), 7-6 (7-5); Jan Hernych (Cze) bt Rainer Schuettler (Ger) 1-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4, 2-6, 6-3; 8-Nikolay Davydenko (Rus) bt Dieter Kindlmann (Ger) 6-3, 6-4, 7-5; 12-Robin Soderling (Swe) bt Albert Montanes (Esp) 6-1, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4;  Mikhail Youzhny (Rus) bt 26-Paul-Henri Mathieu (Fra) 2-6, 7-5, 6-0, 6-2.

Women: 3-Venus Williams (US) bt Vera Dushevina (Rus) 6-7 (7-5), 7-5, 6-3; 18-Li Na (Chn) bt Raluca Olaru (Rom) 7-6 (7-4), 6-3; Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez (Esp) bt 28-Sybille Bammer (Aus) 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (7-5), 22-Daniela Hantuchova (Slo) bt Meghann Shaughnessy (US) 6-2, 4-6, 6-1; 31-Elena Vesnina (Rus) bt Lucie Hradecka (Cze) 6-4, 7-6 (7-5); Kirsten Flipkens (Bel) bt Jelena Dokic (Aus) 6-3, 6-4; Anna Chakvetadze (Rus) bt Yurika Sema (Jpn) 4-6, 6-1, 6-2; Bethanie Mattek-Sands (US) bt Iveta Benesova (Cze) 6-3, 6-4; 7-Vera Zvonareva (Rus) bt Nuria Llagostera Vives (Esp) 6-0, 6-4; Melinda Czink (Hun) bt Maria Elena Camerin (Ita) 6-3, 6-4; 17-Amelie Mauresmo (Fra) bt Tatjana Malek (Ger) 6-3, 6-4; 2-Serena Williams (US) bt Alexa Glatch (US) 6-4, 6-1; 10-Flavia Pennetta (Ita) bt Edina Gallovits (Rom) 6-0, 6-4; Aleksandra Wozniak (Can) bt Laura Granville (US) 6-1, 7-6 (9-7); 14-Marion Bartoli (Fra) bt Rossana De Los Rios (Par) 6-1, 6-0; 15-Samantha Stosur (Aus) bt Ai Sugiyama (Jpn) 6-4, 4-6, 6-4;

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