Federer and Murray safely through
Tennis:Roger Federer swatted aside the challenge of Russian veteran Nikolay Davydenko to join title contenders Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray in the third round of the Australian Open today. Federer was at his elegant best to cruise through 6-3 6-4 6-4 and improve his head-to-head record against Davydenko to 18 wins from 20 matches.
The world number two, bidding to become just the second man in history to claim five Australian Open crowns, will now meet home hope Bernard Tomic. Tomic earlier hit back to beat Daniel Brands in four sets, after which he talked up his chances of beating the 17-time major winner.
“I feel so confident,” he said. “It is the perfect time to play him. I’ve got a good attitude to win, and I think I can do it.”
The pair met at the fourth-round stage last year with Federer dropping just eight games in a masterclass. “That was the second time I played Roger and he played pretty well that day,” Tomic added.
“I have my tactics on what I have to do. We’ll see.”
Federer was fortunate to play his match with Davydenko after the sun had gone down on a brutally hot day in Melbourne.
Murray played early in the afternoon, beating Portugal’s Joao Sousa 6-2 6-2 6-4. It was a day for getting the job done quickly and Murray obliged, spending just one hour and 41 minutes on Hisense Arena. US Open champion and third seed Murray said: “It doesn’t matter how much training you do, it’s tough in these conditions.
“It’s extremely hot, especially when the sun comes through the clouds. It’s good to get it done in three sets. The longer the rallies go the tougher it becomes on the legs. You need to get in control of the points and dictate them because otherwise you will get very tired very quickly.”
Next up for the Scot is a meeting with resurgent Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis, who beat 25th seed Florian Mayer for the loss of just six games.
“I have practised with Berankis a lot,” said Murray. “He is a very hard worker, he has had a couple of injuries over the last couple of years and it will be tough.”
Sixth seed Juan Martin Del Potro and seventh seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also moved through. Del Potro cruised past Benjamin Becker 6-2 6-4 6-2 while Tsonga saw off Japanese Go Soeda 6-3 7-6 (7/1) 6-3. Tsonga will play Blaz Kavkic in round three after the Slovenian came through a five-set struggle with Australian wild card James Duckworth.
Three more Frenchman also advanced, Gael Monfils, Gilles Simon and Richard Gasquet. Monfils continued his comeback from injury by outlasting Lu Yen-Hsun 7-6 (7/5) 4-6 0-6 6-1 8-6. In a remarkable finish, Monfils clinched the match on his fourth match point having served double faults on the previous three.
He will now play Simon, seeded 14th, who needed four sets to beat Jesse Levine. Ninth seed Gasquet beat Alejandro Falla in three.
In the women’s draw, the biggest obstacle to Serena Williams’ progress, so far, been herself. The American, seeking a sixth title in Melbourne, went into today’s second-round clash with Spanish teenager Garbine Muguruza nursing a twisted right ankle, suffered in a heavy fall during her whitewash of Edina Gallovits-Hall on Tuesday.
And although 19-year-old Muguruza did not have the weapons to really test Williams’ movement today, the third seed managed do herself further damage, hitting herself in the face with her racket midway through the first set. It was hard to tell whether the constant dabbing of her mouth was caused by pain or embarrassment but it mattered little as Williams came through 6-2 6-0.
“I bust my lip wide open,” she explained. “One day I twist my ankle, today I hit myself in the face — I don’t know what’s going to happen on Saturday. I’m hoping maybe I’ll just hit some winners.”
The lip will heal pretty quickly. Of greater concern to Williams was her ankle, but she claimed it was feeling surprisingly good post-match.
“I didn’t feel anything today,” she added. “Obviously when you go out to play you’re heavy on adrenaline and you’re really pumped up. Usually I feel injuries after the match but so far, so good. I feel pretty much better than I ever dreamed of expecting to feel.”
Williams, who plays Ayumi Morita next, followed top seed Victoria Azarenka on to Rod Laver Arena — the Belarusian taking just 55 minutes to see off Eleni Daniilidou 6-1 6-0. Having struggled to put away her first-round opponent Monica Niculescu on Tuesday, Azarenka was in no mood to offer any freebies to Greek Daniilidou, who won their only previous meeting in 2008.
Azarenka has developed into one of the major forces in the women’s game since then and the gulf in class was evident from the outset. Daniilidou did not get on the board until the sixth game and her broad grin and raised finger suggested she was already accepting of her fate.
Azarenka won the first set in 24 minutes and although the second was marginally more competitive, despite the scoreline, there was only ever going to be one winner as the defending champion advanced to a clash with American Jamie Hampton.
Azarenka, Williams and second seed Maria Sharapova have made it into round three for a combined loss of eight games. But the world number one dismissed suggestions the increasing amount of lop-sided matches in the early rounds of the women’s draw was damaging for the game.
She said: “I think it’s really competitive, the scoreline doesn’t tell the whole story about the match and to win matches 6-0 6-0 requires a lot of discipline, a lot of focus. I can only speak for myself but it seems like everybody is in great form so it’s going to be very interesting.”
Former world number one Caroline Wozniacki moved quietly into round three with a 6-1 6-4 defeat of 16-year-old Croatian Donna Vekic. Vekic has been tipped as a star of the future in the women’s game but she was too wild to trouble the Dane today.