(CNN) -- Five time champion Roger Federer progressed to the second round of the U.S. Open on Monday night, after a straight sets win over Argentina's Brian Dabul.
The Swiss entertained the late-night crowd on Flushing Meadows' Arthur Ashe court with a spectacular through-the-legs-winner in the third set, before going on to win 6-1 6-4 6-2.
The world number two -- who lost his crown to the now injured Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro in last year's final -- will now face Germany's Andreas Beck in the second round.
Meanwhile, 2003 U.S. Open champion Andy Roddick celebrated his 28th birthday with an encouraging first round victory over French qualifier Stephane Robert 6-3 6-2 6-2.
The home favorite has been struggling with mononucleosis, the same virus which hit Roger Federer in 2008, but looks to be running into his best form for the final grand slam of the season.
He raced into a 5-0 first set lead until Robert gained his only break of the match, but it was only delaying the inevitable and Roddick eventually wrapped up the opener in just over an hour and a half.
There was no such luck for 2001 champion and former world number one Lleyton Hewitt, who suffered his earliest ever exit at Flushing Meadows at the hands of France's Paul-Henri Mathieu.
Despite battling back from two sets to love, the 29-year-old 32nd seed went down 6-3 6-4 5-7 4-6 6-1in 3 hours 39 minutes. Former top 20 player Mathieu will now face fellow Frenchman Guillaume Rufin in the second round.
Elsewhere, Swedish fifth seed Robin Soderling was given an almighty scare by 214th-ranked Austrian qualifier Andreas Haider-Maurer before winning 7-5 6-3 6-7 5-7 6-4.
The dangerous Soderling, who beat Federer in the quarterfinals of this year's French Open, is a major obstacle to the Swiss maestro in New York, but was nearly a first round casualty.
He gained the decisive break to lead 3-2 in the decider and wrapped up victory after nearly four hours.
Russian sixth seed Nikolay Davydenko was an easy winner on the first day, cruising past American Michael Russell 6-3 6-1 6-3 and will next face Frenchman Richard Gasquet, who defeated Germany's Simon Greul 6-3 6-4 6-2.
Croatian 11th seed Marin Cilic beat Ukraine's Illya Marchenko 7-5 6-3 6-1 and will play Japan's Kei Nikishori in the second round.