Tennis: Sela sails through in Aussie Open qualifier

Israeli number one defeats Jaroslav Pospisil 6-3, 6-0 in Melbourne.

DUDI SELA CROUCHING 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
(photo credit: AP [file])
Dudi Sela safely progressed to the second round of the Australian Open qualifiers, defeating Jaroslav Pospisil 6-3, 6-0 in Melbourne on Wednesday. The Israel number one, who is ranked 106th in the world, dropped the first three games against Pospisil (227), but reeled off the next 12 games to book his place in the next round. Next up for Sela, who needs to advance through three qualifying rounds to make it into the main draw of the year's first Grand Slam, is Ecuadorian Giovanni Lapentti (216). Tzipi Obziler begins her participation in the women's qualifying tournament on Thursday. The 35-year-old (177) faces Czech Zuzana Ondraskova (182). At the Sydney International, top-seeded Novak Djokovic avoided consecutive opening-match upsets, easily beating Paul-Henri Mathieu of France 6-1, 6-2 on Wednesday. Last week, Djokovic lost in the first round of the Brisbane International, blaming it on difficulties finding his rhythm with a new racket rather than poor form. On Wednesday, he backed up that claim with a strong display against Mathieu in searing heat at the Olympic Park Tennis Centre. The ambient temperature reached 36 degrees Celsius (98 F) - conditions that should prepare him for his title defense at the Australian Open beginning Monday in Melbourne, where, about 800 kilometers (500 miles) to the south, it tends to get just as hot. Top-seeded Serena Williams had the toughest of times in her women's quarterfinal Wednesday, saving two match points in the 12th game of the final set before beating Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark 6-7 (5), 6-3, 7-6 (3). Williams had to save four match points in her first-round match against Samantha Stosur of Australia, and had a straight-sets win in the second round before dueling with Wozniacki for 2 hours, 40 minutes at Ken Rosewall Arena in the quarterfinals. It was the eighth time in her career that Serena has come from a match point down to win. On six of those occasions she has gone on to win the tournament. "It definitely was lucky today," Williams said. "I had a lot of errors on easy shots. I really should have closed it off in two sets. I'm not really happy with the way I played today." Second-seeded Dinara Safina of Russia joined Williams in the semifinals with a 6-3, 6-4 win over France's Alize Cornet. Cornet saved four match points in the final game before Safina, who was serving, closed the match out. Third-seeded Elena Dementieva of Russia beat No. 6 Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 in another quarterfinal and will face Williams in the semis. AP contributed to this report.