|Roger Federer is looking for his 18th major singles title. (US Presswire)|
NEW YORK -- Despite some of the heartbreak he's suffered here the last few years, Roger Federer has always loved these trips to New York.
Top-seeded Federer played up to his billing Monday night, dispatching American Donald Young 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 to open his quest for a sixth U.S. Open title, which would be an Open-era record.
"The U.S. Open, for me, was always, I don't want to say easy, but very natural and I've always looked forward to it in a big way," Federer said.
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Possibly because of matches like Monday's, in which 20,000-plus fans cheered him on during a breezy-but-comfortable night for a win that took only 1 hour, 34 minutes.
"It's a place that brings out the best in me," Federer said.
With his Wimbledon title and the silver medal at the Olympics earlier this summer, Federer returned to No. 1 for the first time in 25 months.
His first career match against Young was a predictable affair, with Young trying to force the issue by coming to the net and Federer taking advantage of his younger competitor's impatience. He finished with 27 winners and 24 unforced errors, compared to 17 and 30 for Young.
Young fell to 3-22 this year, including a 17-match losing streak.
"It's a lot of pressure because I'm going into this match as a big favorite," Federer said. "But Donald put up a great fight. He's had a rough year and I'm glad to see he's playing better."
"And for me," Federer said, "it continues."
There were times when it seemed as if it would never end, most notably in 2008, when Federer won his fifth consecutive U.S. Open.
A year later, he was two points away from No. 6 but Juan Martin Del Potro pulled off a five-set victory. The past two years, Federer had a pair of match points against Novak Djokovic in the semifinals, but was unable to convert them.
Federer said he re-dedicated himself after last year's loss. This year, he comes in as the top seed, but he considers Djokovic, the defending champion, to be the favorite.
"It's where he feels most comfortable," Federer said of Djokovic, the No. 2 seed.
Not to say Federer isn't comfortable on the hard courts in New York, too.
"The distractions are a challenge - the wind, the humidity, the early matches, the really late, late matches," he said. "That takes some getting used to. But experience can help with that, too."
Coming in, Federer broke the record he shared with Pete Sampras by earning the top seed for a Grand Slam for the 23rd time. Neither that nor his regained status as No. 1 in the world will mean so much to him, however, if he doesn't close out his time in New York with his 18th Grand Slam title.
"I'm happy I'm the world No. 1 right now but it's not what drives me at the U.S. Open," Federer said. "It's actually trying to get that title or get closer to that title."
Federer had left the U.S. Open the last two years after semifinal losses to Novak Djokovic.
Andy Murray weathered a slow start in the latest stop of this long, successful summer.
Seeking that elusive first Grand Slam title, Murray began his U.S. Open campaign Monday with a straight-set victory over Alex Bogomolov Jr. that included some hairy moments. The Olympic gold medalist overcame early breaks in the first two sets of a 6-2, 6-4, 6-1 win.
The third-seeded Murray won the final five games of the first set and the last four games of the second after falling behind early against the 73rd-ranked Bogomolov.
Murray, who won the gold medal in his home country at the London Games, also reached the final at Wimbledon.
Back at the site of her greatest victory, Samantha Stosur looked like a champion again, not the player who has often struggled this year.
The Australian began the defense of her Open title with a dominant win, needing 51 minutes to beat 64th-ranked Petra Martic 6-1, 6-1 in the tournament's first match at Arthur Ashe Stadium before rain suspended play for more than two hours.
"As soon as I got here, it was just a good feeling and excitement to be back to a city that obviously brought me so much last year," Stosur said.
The last time Stosur played on this court, she stunned Serena Williams in the 2011 final at Flushing Meadows for her first Grand Slam title. But in so many ways, that 6-2, 6-3 victory was starting to feel as if it happened much more than a year ago.Stosur lost in the first round in front of the home fans at the 2012 Australian Open. She lost in the second round at Wimbledon, then again in the first round at the London Olympics.
Sandwiched in between, she made a run to the semifinals of the French Open, but fell apart by committing 21 unforced errors in the third set of her loss to Sara Errani.
"Today kind of carried on from exactly how I was feeling last year," Stosur said. "Hopefully that's a good omen. ... Last year I did feel that comfort out there and nothing bothered me; today was along the same lines."
Against Martic, who withdrew from the Olympics with a left foot injury, Stosur won the first 19 points, five away from a golden set, before the streak ended on a double-fault.
"It pops into your head and you think, 'Oh, that would be cool,"' Stosur said of winning a set without dropping a point.
She was still nearly perfect, with 22 winners and 10 aces. She didn't face any break points.
Ninth-seeded Li Na reached the second round for the first time since 2009, beating Britain's Heather Watson 6-2, 6-3. She's coming off a victory in Cincinnati, her first title since the 2011 French Open.
Li was a top-10 seed when she lost in the first round at Flushing Meadows in each of the previous two years.
James Blake reached the second round of a Grand Slam event for the first time this year, beating Lukas Lacko 7-5, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3. The 32-year-old American needed a wild card to make his 12th appearance at the Open after his ranking fell out of the top 100. He hadn't lost in the first round at Flushing Meadows since his debut in 1999.
Blake, who has twice made the quarterfinals at the Open, won the first two sets against the 54th-ranked Lacko before the rain delay.