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By Karen Walker
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Second seed and one of the strongest contendors for this year's title, Andy Murraymade a confident start to his title bid with a straight sets win over Latvian Ernests Gulbis to move to the next round of the 2009 US Open.
Murray started the match under tight competition by stretching himself to limits to capture an elusive break in the 12th game and seal the opening set 7-5.
The second set saw Murray pick up an early break to wrap up a comparatively easy set 6-3. The third set saw no breaks of serve till 5-5 when Murray finally grabbed the decisive break and served out the match 7-5, 6-3, 7-5 in a tussle that lasted two hours and 17 minutes.
Earlier in the day, Seventh seed Jo-Wilfried tsonga made a quick work of unseeded American Chase Buchanan 6-0, 6-2, 6-1 to reach the second round. He was later joined by No. 22 and Olympus US Open series winner Sam Querrey, who beat compatriot Michael Yani 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 to move ahead in the draw.
Other notable winners of the day included Tomas Berdych, Marin Cilic, Julien Benneteau, Florent Serra, Fernando Gonzalez and Viktor Troicki, who all registered contrasting wins over their respective opponents to move ahead in the draw.
In the women's draw, 2006 champion Maria Sharapova made an emphatic start to her title bid with a 6-3, 6-0 demolition of Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova in just 73 minutes of play.
"I was in the physical therapy office every single day, and the tennis was on. But I made a point not to watch it," Sharapova said. "When you’re not participating in a tournament that you very much love, and you’ve had success at, as an athlete and as a competitor, to not be there and not be competing is pretty tough."
"This is a Grand Slam. You’ve got to get going from the first match," Sharapova added. "After being gone, this is what it’s all about."
Earlier in the day, Olympic champion Elena Dementieva gave a solid start to her Grand Slam campaign with a 6-1, 6-2 routing of Frenchwoman Camille Pin. Dementieva is considered by many as the strongest contendor for the title ahead of Serena Williams, who had a dismal performance at the US Open Series.
The biggest casualty of the day came in the name of former French Open champion Ana Ivanovic, who lost her battle to Ukrainian Kateryna Bondarenko 2-6, 6-3, 7-6(7).
Other winners of the day included current French Open champion and 2004 US Open winner Svetlana Kuznetsova, Patty Schnyder, Caroline Wozniacki, Jelena Jankovic, Alona Bondarenko, Alize Cornet, Gisela Dulko, Sorana Cirstea, Sabine Lisicki and Jie Zheng, who all looked impressive in their opening round matches.
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