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US Open: Fed's flash of sheer genius

Roger Federer lit up the opening day of the US Open with another moment of sheer genius during his first-round victory at Flushing Meadows.

Federer had won the first set against Argentina's Brian Dabul and was 5-3 up in the second when he conjured up a winner from between his legs and with his back to the court.

Dabul looked to have played the perfect lob which landed just inside the baseline, but Federer came up with a mirror image of his famous winner in his semi-final against Novak Djokovic last year. The world No2 achieved a standing ovation and a wave of his arms suggested Federer himself could not believe the shot he had played.

To his credit, world No96 Dabul saved five break points in that game and four in his previous service game before Federer served out for the set on his way to a 6-1 6-4 6-2 victory in 93 minutes.

Speaking about the shot, Federer said: "I thought I was a bit late and had to give it one last push to get there but thought I could do this again.

"It's different because Novak was at the net but I've only hit a few in my life and to do two on Centre Court in night sessions is amazing.

"I feel very much at home here, I've always played some good tennis, six straight finals, and would like to go there again this year and I'm excited to be back and playing well."

The only disappointing aspect of Federer's performance was converting just five of his 19 break points, but the 16-time Grand Slam winner said: "I had a lot of chances but credit to Brian too, his first time in a major and on centre court, and I think he did a good job."

Only two seeds lost on the opening day, with France's Paul-Henri Mathieu handing 32nd seed Lleyton Hewitt his first defeat in the opening round of the US Open, winning 6-3 6-4 5-7 4-6 6-1.

Fernando Gonzalez was the other seed to fall, the 27th seed forced to retire injured from his match with Croatia's Ivan Dodig after Dodig won the second set 6-1 to level the contest.

Elsewhere, American Andy Roddick celebrated his 28th birthday by beating France's Stephane Robert 6-3 6-2 6-2.

Shocks were conspicuous by their absence on the opening day in the women's section as well, with Venus Williams and defending champion Kim Clijsters enjoying a comfortable passage into the second round.

Third seed Williams had not played since losing in the quarter-finals of Wimbledon due to a knee injury, but relied on all her big-match experience to beat Roberta Vinci 6-4 6-1 in the first evening match on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

World No1 Serena Williams is absent with a foot injury of her own and Venus said: "It's not the same without two Williams (sisters)."

Clijsters earlier conceded she no longer has the element of surprise on her side after recovering from 4-0 down in the second set against Greta Arn before winning 6-0 7-5.

The second seed completed a remarkable return to the sport last year after previously retiring in 2007, beating Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki in the final at Flushing Meadows in only her 14th match and third tournament of what she likes to call her "second career".