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It was Williams' first match since a June 29 loss at Wimbledon; she missed time because of a sprained left kneecap, and landed awkwardly on that leg early in the second set.
"Thankfully," Williams said, "after that, she did most of the running."
Williams did look absolutely fine a couple of games later when she pounded a down-the-line forehand passing winner on a full sprint.
Vinci knew, of course, about Williams' recent time off, and said afterward with a sigh: "I hoped she would play worse."
Instead, Vinci said, "She kept pushing."
Roddick turned 28 on Monday, and after beating Stephane Robert of France 6-3, 6-2, 6-2, the ninth-seeded American was asked what significance he attributes to his age. In typical Roddick fashion, he injected his reply with some humor.
"Obviously, I know I'm probably closer to the finish than I am to the start," he said. "But ... it's a number. I'm barely older than I was yesterday."
Well, that's true. He also, however, is seven years older than he was when he won his lone Grand Slam title at the 2003 U.S. Open. There's a reminder of that accomplishment every time Roddick returns to Flushing Meadows: His spot in the locker room bears a special plate with his name and the year he was the champion, a bit of recognition he referred to as "the little deal on your locker that says you're special."
Clijsters is "special," too. The Belgian won the U.S. Open each of the past two times she entered, in 2005 and 2009, and she stretched her winning streak in New York to 15 matches Monday despite a brief blip.
The No. 2-seeded Clijsters began her title defense with a 6-0, 7-5 victory over 104th-ranked Greta Arn of Hungary. It was an afternoon of mostly straightforward results, although two-time French Open runner-up Robin Soderling was stretched to five sets before edging 214th-ranked qualifier Andreas Haider-Maurer, who finished with 34 aces.
The tournament started Monday morning in a mostly empty Arthur Ashe Stadium with Oudin's 6-3, 6-0 victory over 143rd-ranked qualifier Olga Savchuk of Ukraine.
When Oudin -- it's pronounced oo-DAN -- arrived at Flushing Meadows in 2009, she was 17, ranked 70th, never had won a U.S. Open match and was relatively anonymous. No one figured she'd go as far as she did; her hotel reservation in New York wasn't for long enough, so Oudin needed to switch places.
She upset four opponents in a row, including three-time major champion Sharapova and 2008 Beijing Olympic gold medalist Elena Dementieva, to become the tournament's youngest quarterfinalist since Serena Williams in 1999.
Along the way, Oudin's on-court spirit and off-court personality earned her plenty of adoration and attention -- "a bit of a zoo," is the way her coach, Brian de Villiers, described it.
"Everyone has one Cinderella story, and mine was last year. Now it's like everyone just expects me to do that because I did it last year," Oudin said. "But that doesn't necessarily mean that it's going to happen."
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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