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September 6, 2009

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A tale of two draws as women hit skids

IT has been a tale of two draws at the US Open, with the men's seeds advancing full steam ahead and the usually fastidious women's field in disarray.

Eight of the top 16 women's seeds have been given the boot at Flushing Meadows, while all 16 men have strolled forward -- for the first time at a grand slam tournament in the 41-year Open era. The top 10 in the often-volatile men's draw have barely felt a ripple of opposition. Going into Friday's fifth day of play in New York not one had lost a set.

"That's shocking," fifth-seeded American Andy Roddick said on Thursday.

Andy Murray of Briton gained the unexpected distinction of becoming the first man among the top 10 to drop a set when he took one misstep on Friday in a 6-2, 3-6, 6-0, 6-2 second-round victory over 87th-ranked Paul Capdeville of Chile.

Eight of the leading women at the year's final grand slam would have happily settled for just one bad set.

Gone are women's fourth seed Elena Dementieva and former world No. 1 players Jelena Jankovic (5) and Ana Ivanovic (11).

Eighth seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus was shown the door on Friday, losing to Italian Francesca Schiavone 6-4, 2-6, 2-6.

Agnieszka Radwanska (12), Marion Bartoli (14), Samantha Stosur (15) and Virginie Razzano (16) also left New York early.

Top-seeded world No. 1 Dinara Safina has survived the upset bug -- just barely. The Russian has had to battle back after losing the opening set in both her victories.

Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan, who eliminated Jankovic, last year's runner-up, said she had been inspired by 17-year-old American Melanie Oudin's defeat of Olympic champion Dementieva.

"Like big changing starts now," said 55th-ranked Shvedova, who suggested the trend could continue. "They better watch out. We are coming."


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