Rafa Nafal’s creaky knee passes test

Controversy abounds when Nalbandian fumed at chair umpire for over-ruling point, denying him a Hawk-eye challenge.

January 20, 2012 15:11
3 minute read.

KIM CLIJSTERS 311. (photo credit: REUTER)


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MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Rafa Nadal’s creaky knee, Alejandro Falla’s leg cramps and Andreas Beck’s bad back created discussion and a sniff of controversy as most of the main contenders safely reached the Australian Open third round on Wednesday.

Champion Kim Clijsters, French Open winner Li Na, world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki and third seed Victoria Azarenka all advanced, along with local hope Bernard Tomic, dark horse Tomas Berdych and world No. 3 Roger Federer.

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Mardy Fish became the first men’s top-10 seed to exit Melbourne Park, though his 7-6, 6-3, 7-6 defeat by Falla left a bitter taste in the American’s mouth, with the eighth seed suggesting much of Falla’s treatment for cramping during a tense third set had been a tactical ploy.

“When you think someone is cramping or ailing physically, you sort of change your game a tiny bit,” Fish said. “I think it had a significant bearing on the third set, for sure.

“Didn’t seem like he was having too much trouble during the point. So it was a good tactic on his part.”

Controversy also boiled over on Margaret Court Arena when a David Nalbandian fumed at the chair umpire for over-ruling a point and denying him a Hawk-eye challenge towards the end of his four hour, 41 minute loss to American John Isner.

“I mean, it’s ridiculous playing this kind of tournament with this kind of umpires. What is this?,” Nalbandian railed after his 4-6, 6-3, 2-6, 7-6, 10-8 defeat.

Former Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis also provided the Margaret Court crowd with fireworks when he smashed four racquets in a spectacular fit of pique after dropping serve early in the third set against Stanislas Wawrinka.

Nadal’s knee, heavily taped after it had caused him “unbelievable pain” on Sunday, held up well under a test from Germany’s Tommy Haas, the Spaniard coming through 6-4, 6-3, 6-4.

Federer had a much easier day when he advanced without having to lace up his tennis shoes.

The Swiss had been scheduled to play Beck on Hisense Arena, ending a run of 52 matches at Melbourne Park on main show court Rod Laver Arena, before he found out his German opponent had withdrawn.

The 16-time grand slam champion, seeded to meet Nadal in the semifinals, did not even have the chance to warm up.

Women’s top seed Wozniacki fought off a second-set wobble to knock out Georgia’s Anna Tatishvili 6-1, 7-6.

The Dane joined Clijsters and Li in the third round, last year’s finalists rarely needing to get out of first gear in their matches on Rod Laver Arena.

Clijsters barely built up a sweat as she thrashed France’s Stephanie Foretz Gacon 6-0, 6-1.

Li was almost as efficient, giving Australian Olivia Rogowska little time to settle and running out a comfortable 6-2, 6-2 winner in 62 minutes.

Tenth seed Francesca Schiavone suffered a shock defeat, however, dumped out by fellow Italian Romina Oprandi 6-4, 6-3.

In Israeli news, Shahar Pe’er and Vera Dushevina, seeded No. 16 in the doubles tournament, advanced to the second round on Wednesday with a 7- 5, 6-3 win over Sofia Arvidsson and Johanna Larsson.

Pe’er faces Sabine Lisicki in the second round of the singles competition in the third match on Show Court 2 on Thursday.

Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich come up against No. 1 seeds Bob and Mike Bryan in their first-round doubles match on Thursday following a cruel draw.

Allon Sinai contributed to this report.

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