Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Roddick Cruises To Third Round

Much has been made of American Andy Roddick's chances to win his first Australian Open. The 23-year-old second seed entered 2006 off a disappointing '05, which saw him upset by Gilles Muller in the first round of the U.S. Open. Stunned by the result, Roddick vowed to make some changes for this year. So far, so good as he coasted to his second straight set win in three days, taking out big server Wesley Moodie 7-5, 6-3, 6-2 to advance to a third round match against Frenchman Julien Benneateau, who defeated Guillermo Garcia Lopez 6-4, 7-6 (3), 6-1.

In a very close first set, both big servers were in form for the first 12 games. Neither player could even crack their opponent's serve. But that quickly changed when Moodie tightened up trying to stay in the set to force a tiebreak. An unforced error and a double fault gave Roddick all he needed to claim it.

Finally gaining more confidence on his opponent's serve, Roddick began to get more looks in the second set. Though Moodie fought off a couple of break points, Roddick finally broke through to lead 5-3. From there, he closed out the set without any trouble to go up two sets, giving a fist pump.

Looking for the putaway, Roddick broke Moodie in the opening game of the third frame. Just for good measure, the fiery gunslinger broke Moodie for a second time when he ripped a crosscourt forehand winner to lead 5-2, prompting another pump of the fist. From there, he closed it out with ease.

For the match, Roddick won 85 percent of points on his first serve, faced only one break point and had 30 winners to just nine unforced errors. In discussing how cleanly he played at the postmatch conference, he said, "I'll take that most days."

"I definitely felt Wes was going to come out and play big like he did, I needed to play well today."

Ginepri Not As Fortunate: While Roddick didn't break a sweat against Moodie, American Robby Ginepri (13) wasn't as lucky against second round German qualifier Denis Gremelmayr. The '05 U.S. Open semifinalist blew a two set and break lead in falling to Gremelmayr 2-6, 5-7, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.

Ginepri was a potential Round of 16 opponent for Roddick. Combined with the first round exit of Taylor Dent, Roddick's draw has opened up considerably. What he does with it remains to be seen.

A night earlier, American Alex Bogomolov, Jr. upset ninth seeded Chilean Fernando Gonzalez in more ways than one. While he defeated Gonzalez in an ultracompetitive five sets 4-6, 7-6 (6), 6-3, 6-7 (3), 7-5, Bogomolov irked Gonzalez with some on-court antics. Included during the match were some loud screams of, "Come on" when his opponent missed shots on big points. Bogomolov also repeatedly pounded his chest and made faces at Gonzalez, clearly unnerving him. At one point, the chair umpire had to get between them during a break. Bogomolov next faces Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu in the third round.

Other players who moved on were seventh seeded Ivan Ljubicic, eighth seeded Gaston Gaudio, David Ferrer (11), Mario Ancic (18), Jarkko Nieminen (26), Fabrice Santoro and Marcos Baghdatis, who upended Radek Stepanek (17) 6-4, 6-3, 3-6, 0-6, 7-5.

Also falling was Czech riser Tomas Berdych (19) to Frenchman Gilles Simon 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2. Spaniard Feliciano Lopez (31) ousted Gilles Muller in four sets 6-2, 6-4, 6-7 (6), 6-4.

American James Blake (20) also advanced with a 2-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 win over French qualifier Jean-Christophe Faurel. Blake will next meet the winner of Tommy Robredo (16) versus Dmitry Tursunov.

Serena Into Round Three: After struggling to a three set opening round victory over Na Li, American Serena Williams (13) easily handled Frenchwoman Camille Pin 6-3, 6-1 in 49 minutes. It was her 16th consecutive win at the Australian Open. Williams has won it the last two times she's played ('03, '05). She missed '04 with injuries.

Much sharper, the defending champ played with a purpose in outslugging Pin from the baseline. After a loose third game (four errors) which gave Pin a break for 2-1 in the first set, Williams broke right back with some forceful hitting, keeping her opponent on the run. Turning it on, Serena finished with 30 winners and five aces.

"I definitely had some things I wanted to work on today, so it was cool," Serena said.

"The last two times I played here, I did really well," she pointed out. "I'm just hoping to keep it up."

Williams next plays Slovakian Daniela Hantuchova (17), who ousted Akgul Amanmuradova 6-4, 6-1.

Meanwhile, American top seed Lindsay Davenport defeated Croatia's Karolina Sprem 7-6 (4), 6-3. She'll next meet Russian riser Maria Kirilenko (25), who eliminated Galina Voskoboeva 7-6 (1), 6-4.

Other women who advanced were sixth seeded Nadia Petrova, eighth seeded Justine Henin-Hardenne, Svetlana Kuznetsova (14) and Olga Savchuk, who upset Jelena Jankovic (23) 6-3, 6-4.

Another upset victim was Elena Likhovtseva. The 18th seeded Russian fell to Spaniard Virginia Ruano Pascual 6-4, 6-4.

Meanwhile, Bulgarian Tszvetana Pironkova who upset Venus Williams on Day One couldn't duplicate her success against American veteran Laura Granville. Granville defeated Pironkova 7-5, 6-2.

Other winners included Jelena Kostanic, Elena Vesnina, Maria Elena Camerin, Mara Santangelo and Virginie Razzano.

Fourth seeded Russian Maria Sharapova was scheduled to take on American Ashley Harkleroad in the night session.

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