Australian Open: Sela qualifies for second round

23-year-old Israeli beats world number 31 Rainer Schuettler in four sets; Pe'er crashes out.

By AP
January 20, 2009 06:43
4 minute read.
Australian Open: Sela qualifies for second round

Sela Australian open 248.88. (photo credit: AP)

 
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After Shahar Pe'er's disappointment, Israel's remaining hope in the Australian Open singles competition, Dudi Sela, qualified for the second round on Tuesday morning by beating world number 31 Rainer Schuettler, of Germany, in four sets. The 23-year-old Israeli, ranked 106th in the world, won the match 1-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-4. In their only previous career meeting to date, Sela defeated the German in the semifinals of the Beijing tournament last year. Sela will face Romanian Victor Hanescu (44) in the next round. On Monday, Pe'er tumbled out of the Australian Open in the first round, losing to world number 12 Caroline Wozniacki in just 83 minutes. After falling in the rankings to No. 42 in the world, Pe'er knew she would be in danger of receiving a tough draw in Melbourne and her worst fears were realized when she was paired with the rising Danish star. No one realistically expected Pe'er to defeat her doubles partner Wozniacki in the first round and the 18-year-old Dane led throughout the match on her way to a 6-3, 6-2 victory. Two decisive stats tell the story of the encounter. Pe'er converted just two of her 18 break points while Wozniacki broke on five of her six chances. The Israeli also hit 41 unforced errors to the teenager's 24. Meanwhile, in other Day One action, Roger Federer took the first step toward his record-tying 14th Grand Slam title with a 6-1, 7-6 (4), 7-5 victory Monday over Andreas Seppi. Federer, seeking to match Pete Sampras' mark, was at his best on the big points on the opening day as almost all of the favorites avoided upsets. But it rarely was easy for even the top players in the year's first Grand Slam. "He is a very tough customer, he played really well," Federer said of the 35th-ranked Seppi. "I think I played well, too. I had to." Serbia's Ana Ivanovic, the women's runner-up here last year, had 10 mistakes just in the first five games but managed to advance with a 7-5, 6-3 victory over 107th-ranked Julia Goerges, who was even more erratic. Top-seeded Jelena Jankovic, short on match practice after illness hampered preparations for her pursuit of a first Grand Slam title, had 27 winners to just four for No. 104 Yvonne Meusburger while winning 6-1, 6-3. The other Serbian star, defending men's champion Novak Djokovic, started strong then had to rally from service breaks in the last two sets - he was down 4-0 in the third - to oust Andrea Stoppini 6-2, 6-3, 7-5. Second-ranked Federer is a huge fan favorite here, and Rod Laver Arena was still packed when he went on court at 10 p.m. under perfect conditions. Camera flashes went off every time he hit a shot. "Whose house? Roger's house!" one fan roared. Federer, who has won three titles here, was clearly focused on proving that fan right. The Swiss star fended off all 10 of Seppi's break points. He had one stretch in the first set that had the fans gasping and left Seppi with a look that said: "What can I do?" Ivanovic lost the 2008 Australian final to Maria Sharapova, who is out with an injured shoulder, then won the French Open to take the top ranking midway through the year. She had her share of glitches while facing Goerges for the first time, with the midday sun playing havoc with every serve toss at one end of the court. It didn't help that the German player was going for winners. "I don't expect myself to step on the court and play perfect tennis from very first moment," said Ivanovic, who was ousted in the third round at Wimbledon and in the second at the US Open. "You just want to give yourself the best possible chance and give time to work yourself into the tournament." Jankovic had more trouble with the broiling daytime sun - temperatures reached 36 degrees - than Meusburger. The surface was so hot that Jankovic iced the soles of her shoes during changeovers. "My feet were burning," said Jankovic, who didn't know what to expect after her recent illness-enforced layoff. Seventh-seeded Andy Roddick was happy to be first up in Rod Laver Arena. He sped off in less than two hours, taking advantage of 31-year-old Swedish qualifier Bjorn Rehnquist, whose style played right into the seventh-seeded American's strengths. Roddick, looking sharp and trim, committed just 10 unforced errors in the 6-0, 6-2, 6-2 win. Other men advancing were No. 8 Juan Martin del Potro and No. 10 David Nalbandian of Argentina, No. 11 David Ferrer of Spain, No. 15 Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland, 2005 champion Marat Safin, 2006 finalist Marcos Baghdatis and 16-year-old Australian Bernard Tomic. Winners on the women's side included No. 3 Dinara Safina and No. 7 Vera Zvonareva of Russia, No. 15 Alize Cornet of France, No. 16 Marion Bartoli and No. 19 Daniela Hantuchova. Top-ranked Rafael Nadal has his first match on Tuesday, when both Serena and Venus Williams will also be in action.

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