Shahar Pe’er failed to progress past the second round of a Grand Slam tournament
for the fourth straight time on Thursday, being crushed 6-1, 6-2 in a mere 53
minutes by world No. 15 Sabine Lisicki in the second round of the Australian
The Israeli, ranked No. 34 in the world, entered the tournament in
Melbourne brimming with confidence after reaching the semifinals in Hobart last
week and looked to be in good form after dropping just two games on her way to a
first round win over Isabella Holland.
However, Lisicki, a Wimbledon
semifinalist last year, steamrolled Pe’er on Thursday, hitting 20 winners
compared to just three by the Israeli.
The German also made 22 unforced
errors compared to eight by Shahar, but her aggressive play was duly rewarded,
winning 14 of 17 net approaches on the way to a dominant triumph.
the painful defeat, Pe’er will remain in Melbourne for the meantime, teaming-up
with Vera Dushevina to face Polona Hercog and Jie Zheng in the second round of
the doubles tournament on Friday.
Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich were knocked
out in the first round of the men’s doubles event on Thursday, losing 7-6 (8),
6-4 to top seeds Bob and Mike Bryan.
The Bryans have won the Australian
Open in five of the past six years, with Ram and Erlich taking the title the one
year they failed to do so in 2008.
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Despite the cruel draw, the Israeli
duo had its chances on Thursday.
Ram and Erlich served for the first set
in the 10th game, only to be broken, and squandered a set point in the tiebreak
which could have made all the difference.
Meanwhile, budding Hollywood
actor Novak Djokovic led the way with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 demolition of Santiago
Giraldo as a trio of former Australian Open champions reduced their opponents to
bit-part characters on Thursday.
Djokovic makes his acting bow in the
blockbuster “The Expendables 2” later this year but the defending champion
showed he had lost none of his appetite for the day job with an emphatic
second-round victory at Melbourne Park.
Maria Sharapova and Serena
Williams earlier swept into the third round to rumblings about the lack of depth
in the women’s game but second seed Petra Kvitova bucked the trend when her
match threatened to turn into a horror show.
Scot Andy Murray, the losing
finallist for the last two years, was also in imposing form and there was no
need for any “Braveheart”-inspired heroics as he dispatched Frenchman Edouard
Roger-Vasselin 6-1, 6-4, 6-4.
Djokovic revealed that he gets into a fight
in his movie debut and, if the first film in the series is anything to go by, it
is likely to be more of a dramatic tussle than the crowd on Rod Laver Arena
witnessed on Thursday.
“A win is a win however it comes to you. I try
obviously to not underestimate any opponents in early rounds,” the Serbian told
“Santiago came out early hitting the ball quite flat but I
knew that sooner or later he’s going to drop the rhythm and I just have to hang
in there. I’ve done a good job.”
There was a brief blip in the first set,
when four unforced errors handed Giraldo a service break, but the world No. 1
broke back to love immediately and said there had been no nerves.
honest, I’ve had lots of situations where I was break down in my career so I
guess that doesn’t affect me, especially early in the first set,” he said. “I
knew that I would start hitting the ball better.”
Sharapova, the 2008
champion, took just 64 minutes to crush American qualifier Jamie Hampton 6-0,
6-1, while five-times winner Williams needed two minutes more to defeat Czech
Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 6-0, 6-4.
The third former winner in the
women’s draw, defending champion Kim Clijsters, progressed with a 6-0, 6-1
victory on the same Rod Laver Arena on Wednesday.
While a dreaded “double
bagel” 6- 0, 6-0 defeat has yet to be doled out this year, the rash of lop-sided
contests has once again prompted questions about the gap in quality between the
best and the rest in women’s tennis.
The performance of Kvitova’s
58thranked opponent Carla Suarez Navarro was a riposte to those questions,
however, as she forced the Wimbledon champion to fight back from a break down in
the third set to salvage a 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 win.
“It’s very tough to get
back because you know that she moved very well and she got everything,” the
21-yearold Czech said.
“I just try to get more shots and be in the
rallies with her and play smarter. That was the key.”
When fit, Williams
has often been at an elite level of her own over the years and her victory over
Strycova was the 500th win of her career.
“It’s like the ultimate. It’s
really, really cool. Five hundred is a lot of matches to play, let alone to
win,” she said of the milestone, which only her sister Venus, Clijsters and Thai
Tamarine Tanasugarn have reached before her among active players.
was as delighted with his performance against Roger-Vasselin after dropping the
first set in his opening match against Ryan Harrison.
“I served well and
didn’t give him any chances, so was happy,” said the Scot.
aside, it was a fine day for France as sixth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gael
Monfils (14th), Richard Gasquet (17th), Nicolas Mahut, Julien Benneteau and
Michael Llodra all reached the third round.
The locals had something to
shout about at the end of the day when Lleyton Hewitt, the former US Open and
Wimbledon champion, progressed after 2003 US Open winner Andy Roddick retired
hurt when trailing 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.Reuters contributed to this report
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