Originally created 08/29/06

Roddick passes first Open test



NEW YORK - Andy Roddick gave a fist pump toward coach Jimmy Connors and walked off the court with his arms and head held high. This time, he still has more tennis to play at the U.S. Open.

Roddick bounced back from last year's stunning first-round upset, overpowering Florent Serra 6-2, 6-1, 6-3 on Monday and drawing encouraging claps from Connors.

"It's a lot better than last year, a lot better start," the ninth-seeded Roddick said. "I'm really confident right now."

After a 90-minute rain delay, opening day at Flushing Meadows featured an attractive lineup, on and off the blue courts.

Andre Agassi, sure to be the crowd favorite in his final event, was to play Andrei Pavel at night. Before the match, the National Tennis Center was to be renamed in honor of former star and pioneer Billie Jean King.

Second-seeded Justine Henin-Hardenne got off to a clean start, breezing past Maria Elena Camerin 6-2, 6-1. Mardy Fish also won - and became the answer to a tennis trivia question.

With instant replay being used for the first time at a Grand Slam event, Fish made the first challenge. He contested a sideline call that went against him, but the ruling was upheld in his 6-4, 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 win over Simon Greul of Germany.

Asked how he felt to make history, Fish laughed and said he wasn't sure if he was first.

"I didn't know if Justine did or not," he said.

Former champions Henin-Hardenne (2003), Roddick (2003), Svetlana Kuznetsova (2004) and Lindsay Davenport (1998) all won their openers, and Agassi (1994 and 1999) hoped to do the same.

In the Open's first big upset, Feliciano Lopez, of Spain, ousted No. 3 Ivan Ljubicic, of Croatia, 6-3, 6-3 6-3. Ljubicic beat Lopez at the Australian Open and Wimbledon earlier this year.

Roddick never was threatened, a complete reversal from his straight-sets loss to unheralded Gilles Muller, of Luxembourg, in the opening round last August. Also different this time: Connors is in his corner.