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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Davydenko Hounded by Betting Inquiry at Open

ReutersDavydenko serving to American Jesse Levine on Monday in the first round of the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows.
NEW YORK -- A white towel over his shoulders and a grim look on his face, Nikolai Davydenko autographed three balls and hit them into the stands Monday after winning his first-round match at the U.S. Open.

The man at the center of tennis' gambling investigation, world No. 4 Davydenko has plenty on his mind besides smacking fuzzy yellow spheres these days. The Russian has not been questioned by the Association of Tennis Professionals or outside investigators yet, but he expects to talk to them sometime when his schedule winds down after the Sept. 10-16 China Open.

"I got tired mentally in this situation," Davydenko told reporters after defeating Jesse Levine of the United States 6-4, 6-0, 6-1, "and I don't know if I will be able to regain my strength to fight and play well here."

In early August, the ATP began an investigation after a British online gambling company, Betfair, voided all bets on a second-round match between Davydenko and 87th-ranked Martin Vassallo Arguello of Argentina at Sopot, Poland.

Betfair received about $7 million in wagers on the match, 10 times the usual amount. Most of the money backed Arguello -- including bets placed after he lost the first set to Davydenko, a semifinalist at the French Open twice and at the U.S. Open last year. Davydenko wound up winning the second set, then retiring in the third with a left foot injury.

Nearly every question Davydenko was asked at his post-match news conference Monday was about this one issue. Asked whether he had bet on a match, Davydenko responded: "Never in my life. I don't know how you can, and I don't know guys who do."

In the wake of the investigation, some men on the tour said word spread of past instances of players being approached about throwing matches.

Davydenko was even asked whether the Russian mafia had any influence in the sport.

"First, I don't live in Moscow. I don't know really guys from mafia in Russia, because I live from 15 years old in Germany. I don't know German mafia," he said with a smile. "Maybe if you go now to Brooklyn, you find Russian mafia here in New York."

Less intrigue surrounded Monday's other first-round matches at the National Tennis Center as the usual favorites advanced without much trouble.

Defending champion Roger Federer, bidding for his fourth consecutive U.S. Open title blew away American Scoville Jenkins 6-3, 6-2, 6-4, while top-ranked Belgian Justine Henin ousted wide-eyed German Julia Goerges 6-0, 6-3 in 62 minutes.

Federer landed just 60 percent of his first serves and had only a 25-24 edge in winners. But the Swiss had only 12 unforced errors, compared with 31 for Jenkins.

"Unfortunately for him he double faulted quite a bit on break points, which obviously helped," said Federer. "From the baseline, he was tough. He was kind of controlling play."

Jenkins, a qualifier, said playing Federer was "mentally frustrating."

"He just plays you, trying to make you play your worst and he plays his best. ... He matches up his strength to your weakness unbelievably."

Henin, who continues to nurse what she calls a "scary" shoulder injury, landed only 44 percent of her first serves but she was never broken by her Goerges, 18.

The Belgian said there wasn't "a lot of rhythm" in the match, mostly due to Goerges' 32 unforced errors.

Venus Williams fired a grand slam record-tying 129 mile-per-hour serve en route to an easy 6-2, 6-1 victory over Hungarian qualifier Kira Nagy, while her sister Serena had a tougher time but prevailed over Angelique Kerber of Germany, 6-3, 7-5.

Fifth-seeded Ana Ivanovic of Serbia overpowered Aiko Nakamura of Japan 6-1, 6-1 and No. 14 seed Elena Dementieva of Russia also enjoyed a straight-sets victory, beating France's Stephanie Cohen-Aloro 6-4, 6-3.