— NEW YORK - Tennis returns to New York with a number of interesting Day 1 storylines: America's sweetheart Melanie Oudin is back in action, Kim Clijsters is starting her title defense, Roger Federer is looking to make a run to reclaim his title and more. Take a look at five first-round matches to watch.
1) America's sweetheart
In 2009, 17-year-old American Melanie Oudin picked off seeded players, swept into the U.S. Open quarterfinals and became the country's newest sweetheart in the process. Her sincere joy at winning and underdog spirit captivated tennis fans and earned her the honor of playing first in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Day 1 of the 2010 tournament. Now ranked 43rd in the world, Oudin will face qualifier Olga Savchuk, who has lost in the first round each of the previous two times she competed, at the U.S. Open. Watch and see if she can start another improbable run in New York.
2) No. 2 seeds looking to be No. 1s
In just her third tournament back after a two-year retirement, unseeded Kim Clijsters surged to the title. Seeded No. 2 this year, she's back and ready to defend her U.S. Open title. Clijsters will start that campaign with a first-round match against Greta Arn. The Hungarian never has made it out of the first round. They will play at Arthur Ashe as the second match in the day session.
Clijsters' seeded counterpart on the men's side is No. 2 Roger Federer, who was one set away from his sixth straight U.S. Open title last year. But he faltered right as opponent Juan Martin del Potro charged, and therefore Federer isn't the defending champion. Not only is he motivated by reclaiming that trophy, but a win also would give him multiple Grand Slam titles for the seventh straight year. His opening match on Day 1 will be against Argentina's Brian Dabul, who has a 5-3 overall record this season and is making his first-ever appearance at the U.S. Open. Their Arthur Ashe Stadium match is the second of the night session.
3) Hantuchova vs. Safina
The first-round match between No. 24 Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia and unseeded Dinara Safina of Russia could be one of the day's more entertaining matches, or it could be one of its more cringe-worthy. Since being seeded No. 1 at last year's tournament, back injuries and confidence issues have plagued Safina and caused her to freefall down to No. 50 in the rankings. She's just 11-12 this year. But if Safina can regain her top form, she's one of the most dangerous floaters in the draw.
4) Redemption for Roddick
Fit and with lots of momentum from an exceptional championship performance at Wimbledon in 2009, Andy Roddick was considered one of the strong favorites at the U.S. Open. But he was upset in five sets in the third round by fellow American John Isner. Roddick is looking to redeem himself for that early exit - as well as a third-round ousting at this year's French Open and fourth-round exit at Wimbledon - with a strong run in New York.
5) One Williams sister standing
While her sister Serena is sidelined due to a foot injury, Venus Williams' nagging knee injury has cleared up enough to let her play at this year's tournament. Competing in New York for the 11th time, Williams also has two U.S. Open titles but none since 2001. At 30 years old she is among one of the older contenders, but a wide-open field and her tendency to raise her level of play in Grand Slams bode well for Williams this year. Her first match will be under the lights at Arthur Ashe Stadium against Roberta Vinci. The Italian is currently ranked 65th in the standings and has a 23-19 singles record so far in 2010.