| Justine Henin celebrates a point against Cara Black at the US Open Wednesday. (AFP)
New York: Serena Williams screamed into the US Open third round in just 40 minutes on Wednesday, doling out a harsh lesson to Marat Safin’s kid sister.
The world No. 1 and top seed clattered 16-year-old Dinara Safina 6-0, 6-1 on Arthur Ashe Court to move one step closer to a third successive Grand Slam title this year.
Steady rain forced a delay to the start of play Thursday.
With the forecast calling for rain throughout the day, the chances are slim that a ball will be struck, at least until late.
Once again squeezed into the skin-tight, short-legged, black lycra cat-suit that caused a sensation on the opening day, Serena left Safina simply stunned with a barrage of big hitting the mighty Marat would have been proud of.
“It just comes natural to me,” Serena smiled, explaining her brand of power tennis.
“But I think she will be a great player. And she’s a really nice girl which matters most — I hope the rest of us animals don’t rub off on her.”
While Serena was wowing the main showcourt in the latest of her wild and wacky sartorial creations, men’s third seed Tommy Haas was being admonished for showing a little too much flesh.
The German was forced to change the sleeveless shirt he had chosen for his match with Spain’s David Sanchez just minutes before the first game.
The brouhaha surrounding a chastened Haas’ kit did not appear to affect the 24-year-old, though, as he begun the match hitting with venom and purpose.
But Sanchez was not to be rolled over. The Spaniard made Haas fight tooth and nail all the way before the seed scraped through 7-6, 3-6, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5.
Women’s fifth seed Jelena Dokic could not find any fight in early action and was left shell-shocked after a desperate performance against Russia’s Elena Bovina.
The Yugoslav looked ill at ease and was thumped 6-3, 6-2. “It was one of those days where I wasn’t hitting well,” she said.
“It was a combination of everything that didn’t go right.”
Never far from controversy, Dokic also faced questions about her decision to fax a letter of support from New York to hardline Radical Party leader Vojislav Seselj backing his bid for the presidency of Serbia next month. “That’s my personal choice,” the 19-year-old said. “It’s something that I wanted to do. That’s the way I feel and that’s who I wanted to vote for.”
Seselj is named as a co-conspirator of Slobodan Milosevic in one UN indictment over the war with Croatia. A downcast Dokic refused to be drawn further on the letter.
Wimbledon runner-up David Nalbandian also tumbled out 1-6, 4-6, 4-6 in the first round to Armenian Sargis Sargsian.
Britain’s Greg Rusedski made hard work of American Alex Kim, needing four sets to dispose of the wildcard 6-1, 4-6, 7-6, 6-3. But scrappy as the victory was, it kept 1997 runner-up Rusedski on course for a third round clash with Pete Sampras.
The American winner of a record 13 Grand Slam titles has not lifted a trophy since Wimbledon 2000 and is seeded 17th here. But his 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 slaying of Spain’s ‘drop-shot dragon’ Albert Portas in the opening round on Wednesday suggested there was still plenty of firepower in the Sampras arm.
British fifth seed Tim Henman got his campaign off to a perfect start, thrashing Finn Tuomas Ketola 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 to reach the second round.
Women’s eighth seed Justine Henin eased through, beating Zimbabwe’s Cara Black 6-3, 6-2, 11th-seeded Slovak Daniela Hantuchova beat Virginie Razzano of France to advance 6-3, 6-2 but 12th-seeded Russian Elena Dementieva fell to Francesca Schiavone of Italy 6-7, 3-6.
Fourth seed Lindsay Davenport won the opening set of her match against Hungary’s Petra Mandula before the night session was halted.