Shahar Pe’er lost just two games on her way to the second round of the
Australian Open on Tuesday, while Dudi Sela was knocked out in the first round
of a Grand Slam event for the fifth time in his last six attempts.
ranked No. 12 in the world and seeded 10th in Melbourne, needed just 62 minutes
to defeat Mathilde Johansson (103) 6-1, 6-1, hitting 25 winners compared to six
by her French opponent.
Next up for Pe’er is a second- round meeting with
Romanian Sorana Cirstea (94), who hasn’t been passed the second round of a Grand
Slam tournament since 2009, but did reach the quarterfinals at Roland Garros two
Sela (92) is still searching for his first win of 2011 after
falling 7-6 (13), 6-4, 6-4 to Juan Martin Del Potro in the first round in
Melbourne on Tuesday.
Sela held five set points in the first set
tiebreak, but failed to convert them and Del Potro took the crucial opener after
launching a hard forehand winner into the corner.
Del Potro, who was
ranked as high as No. 4 in the world a year ago after winning the US Open in
2009, was in control after that and wrapped up the win in two hours and 39
It was Del Potro’s first tourlevel victory since the third round
of last year’s Aussie Open, with the Argentine dropping to his current ranking
of 236 after an injury ridden 2010.
“I played quite well, but Del Potro
was much better,” said Sela, who fell to 0-3 on the season after losing in the
first round in Brisbane before being knocked out in the first round of
qualifiers in Sydney.
“I had a lot of chances but I couldn’t convert
them. I hope I can play at this level throughout the year and get back into the
Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal advanced to the second round without
losing a game on Tuesday when Marcus Daniel was forced to retire from the
first-round match while trailing 6-0, 5-0.
“If you see all the top five
guys, they improve so much,” said Daniel, who has also lost to Federer. “They
are one step forward, faster than the others, they hit the ball harder than the
others, they can stay very focused for four hours, different than the
Imagine Federer and Nadal, they are the same.”
next play American qualifier Ryan Sweeting, who beat Daniel Gimeno 6-4, 6-4,
Another of those top five that Daniel mentioned was Andy Murray, the
2010 finalist who also advanced when Karol Beck retired with a shoulder injury
in the third set of their first-round match.
The fifth-seeded Murray, who
was leading 6-3, 6-1, 4-2, was the only man to beat Nadal in a Grand Slam
tournament last year, in the quarterfinals at Melbourne Park.
rather finish the match off without your opponent being hurt,” Murray said, “but
it does happen quite a lot. So you just have to move on and get yourself ready
for the next round.”
Fourth-seeded Robin Soderling had to go the distance
but was rarely challenged, completing a 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 win over Potito Starace of
In the match of the day, David Nalbandian of Argentina beat former
No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt of Australia 3-6, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (1), 9-7 in a featurelength
replay of their 2002 Wimbledon final won by the Australian.
Tuesday’s match, Hewitt led the series 3-2 but had not beaten Nalbandian since a
controversial 2005 Australian Open quarterfinal in which the pair bumped into
each other purposely on a changeover.
The video clips of that altercation
featured prominently on television promotions of the night match at Rod Laver
After the 2005 match, won in five sets by Hewitt, Nalbandian said
he was “not a gentleman’” and “nobody is friends” with the
Hewitt said Nalbandian was “not the cleanest
There appeared to be no such animosity Tuesday, with both players
mostly on their best behavior. They shook hands and nodded at each other at the
end of the 4- hour, 48-minute match.
Hewitt’s biggest stumbling block was
his inability to convert break-point chances: just seven of 30. Nalbandian was
six of 12, but only two of eight in the final set.
Nalbandian, who was
cramping at the end of the marathon match, saved two match points on his serve
before finishing it at 1:10 a.m. local time Wednesday with a perfect lob on his
first match point.
“It doesn’t matter that we are tired, we keep
fighting,” Nalbandian said on-court of their rivalry. “I can’t talk, I am so
On the women’s side, US Open champion Kim Clijsters did nothing
to dent her growing status as tournament favorite by routing fellow former No. 1
Dinara Safina 6-0, 6-0.
“I expect my opponent to come out and play their
best tennis,” Clijsters said. “She obviously didn’t do that
Safina was less polite toward herself.
“I was sitting in
the changeover, and I was like, ‘OK, at least how can I get a chance to hurt
her?’” Safina said. “There was nothing that I could do to hurt her.
No. 2-ranked Vera Zvonareva began her bid to reach a third
consecutive Grand Slam women’s final with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Sybille
Zvonareva lost to Serena Williams in the Wimbledon final and to
Clijsters in the US Open final last year.