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Former Wildcat star upsets No. 29 seed in straight sets

Courtesy: Kentucky Athletics

NEW YORK - University of Kentucky men's tennis ITA All-American Jesse Witten advanced to the second round of the U.S. Open by defeating No. 29 Igor Andreev of Russia in straight sets 6-4, 6-0, 6-2 to record his first Grand Slam win on the hard courts at Flushing Meadows, Tuesday afternoon.

Witten will play No. 76 Maximo Gonazlez of Argentina in the second round either Thursday or Friday. Gonzalez defeated Karol Beck of Slovakia in five sets during a first-round match Tuesday. Should Witten win, he could face fourth-ranked Novak Djokovic of Serbia this weekend in the second quarter of the draw. Defending champion Roger Federer, headlining the top half of the draw where Witten resides, began defense of his 2008 U.S. Open title with a first-round win Monday as the world's top-ranked player.

The Naples, Fla., native allowed his opponent only six games to claim the biggest win of his career. Witten aced Andreev seven times in the match. The former Wildcat dominated the second set, blanking the Russian in just 24 minutes. Witten outplayed Andreev in all aspects of the game, which included an impressive winning percentage on first serves of 76 (28-of-37).

Before his win over Andreev, the highest-ranked foe that Witten defeated on the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) tour was No. 81 Danai Udomchoke of Thailand, 6-2, 6-0, in February 2007.

Currently ranked No. 276 in the ATP rankings, Witten beat three opponents ranked inside the top 300 in the qualifying tournament last week to advance to the main draw. He has only dropped one set during his run through the American Grand Slam.

The 2005 UK graduate has been busy building his post-collegiate tennis career over the past few years. In 2008, Witten rose as high as 217 in the world. He started off 2007 with his highest career ranking of 171 in January. Witten followed that up in July of that year when he was named the World Team Tennis (WTT) Male Rookie of the Year during the league's championship weekend. In 2006, Witten qualified for his first U.S. Open main draw but fell in five sets to fellow American Paul Goldstein in the first round.

At Kentucky, Witten earned ITA All-America honors five times and was named the 2005 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year. As a freshman in 2002, Witten advanced to the finals of the NCAA Singles Championships. The following season Witten reigned as the nation's top player for four months.