Clijsters and Nadal Win, Federer Gets Walk-Over in Australia

Clijsters, Li, Nadal, Federer Advance in Australia, Fish Out
Mardy Fish of the US gestures during his men's singles match against Alejandro Falla. Photographer: Nicolas Asfouri/AFP/Getty Images

Defending champion Kim Clijsters and top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki took contrasting paths into the third round of the Australian Open. No. 8 Mardy Fish became the highest-ranked man to lose at the year’s first Grand Slam event.

Second-seeded Rafael Nadal yesterday beat Tommy Haas of Germany 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 at Melbourne Park, while No. 3 Roger Federer of Switzerland advanced when his second-round opponent, German Andreas Beck, withdrew with a lower back injury.

Nadal needed 2 1/2 hours to get past Haas, a three-time semifinalist in Melbourne. The Spaniard, who won his lone Australian Open title in 2009, played with his leg taped after feeling what he said was acute pain in his right knee on the eve of the tournament.

“The knee is improving,” Nadal said in a televised interview. “I’m able to play without problems.”

Federer had been scheduled to follow Wozniacki onto Hisense Arena, Melbourne Park’s second-biggest showcourt, before Beck withdrew. It would have been the four-time champion’s first match away from Rod Laver Arena since 2004.

In action today, five-time champion Serena Williams plays Czech Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, while 2008 champion Maria Sharapova of Russia faces Jamie Hampton of the U.S. Britain’s Andy Murray meets France’s Edouard Roger-Vasselin.

Clijsters routed Stephanie Foretz Gacon of France 6-0, 6-1 in 47 minutes on Rod Laver Arena to move closer to a possible fourth-round match against French Open champion Li Na, whom she beat in the women’s final last year. Wozniacki, still seeking her first Grand Slam title, needed an 81-minute second set to defeat Georgia’s Anna Tatishvili 6-1, 7-6 (7-4).

“I pulled through,” said Wozniacki, who fought back from 4-1 down in the second set and had a blister on her left big toe taped during a medical timeout. “I stepped back a little bit and she punished me for that.”

Li, the No. 5 seed from China, beat Australian wild-card entrant Olivia Rogowska in the day three opener on Rod Laver Arena to secure her best run at a major since her breakthrough victory in Paris. She’ll next play Anabel Medina Garrigues, the No. 26 seed from Spain, while No. 11 seed Clijsters faces 20th-seeded Slovakian Daniela Hantuchova.

“The score looks easy but some games I did a lot of fighting,” Li, the first Chinese player to win a major singles title, said after her 6-2, 6-2 victory.

Losing Seeds

Li’s countrywoman Peng Shuai, the No. 16 seed, lost to Iveta Benesova of the Czech Republic, while former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone fell to fellow Italian Romina Oprandi, who next plays No. 22 Julia Goerges of Germany.

No. 3 seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, one of four women who can end the two-week tournament as the WTA’s No. 1-ranked player, closed play at Rod Laver Arena with a 6-1, 6-0 win over Australia’s Casey Dellacqua.

Jelena Jankovic, the No. 13 seed from Serbia, advanced to a matchup with American teenager Christina McHale, who fought back from a set down to beat New Zealand’s Marina Erakovic to repeat her third-round performance at last year’s U.S. Open.

Fish, who became the No. 1 U.S. men’s player for the first time last year, lost to 71st-ranked Alejandro Falla of Colombia in the biggest upset on the men’s side. Fish’s 7-6 (7-4), 6-3, 7-6 (8-6) defeat marked the third straight year that he failed to advance beyond the second round in Melbourne.

“I didn’t play great,” Fish, who had been in line to meet Federer in the quarterfinals, told reporters. “Conditions were about as ideal for me as I would have liked as far as the second and third set, heat and stuff. Just didn’t work out.”

Five-Set Thriller

Fellow American John Isner battled through a 99-minute fifth set to beat David Nalbandian of Argentina in four hours, 41 minutes on Margaret Court Arena.

Nalbandian called for the supervisor when the chair umpire wouldn’t allow him to challenge the umpire’s overrule of a linesperson who called an Isner serve out. The ace, one of 43 for Isner in the match, allowed the American to hold for a 9-8 lead and he completed the victory in the next game with a reflex volley.

“I was hanging by a thread,” Isner, who next will play No. 18 Feliciano Lopez of Spain, told reporters after his 4-6, 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (7-5), 10-8 win. “I kept pulling even with my serve and I was going for my shots. Eventually it paid off.”

A television replay showed Isner’s serve was out, and Nalbandian criticized umpire Kader Nouni of France in a news conference.

“It’s ridiculous playing this kind of tournament with this kind of umpire,” Nalbandian said. “I mean, can you be that stupid to do that in that moment?”

19-Set Matchup

Sam Querrey of the U.S. took the first set before losing to Australian teenager Bernard Tomic in the night session opener on Rod Laver Arena. Tomic advanced to a third-round match against 13th-seeded Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine. Tomic and Dolgopolov played a combined 19 sets in their opening two matches.

Seventh-seeded Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic beat Olivier Rochus of Belgium to set up a third-round match with Kevin Anderson, the 30th seed from South Africa. No. 11 Juan Martin Del Potro, the only man other than Nadal, Federer and top-ranked Novak Djokovic to secure one of the past 27 majors, also won in straight sets. Nicolas Almagro, the No. 10 seed from Spain, advanced in five sets while Stanislas Wawrinka, Switzerland’s No. 2, beat former Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus in four sets.

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