Australian Open: Wozniacki, Henin into third round
MELBOURNE, Australia – Caroline Wozniacki advanced to the third round of the Australian Open with an emphatic 6-1, 6-0 win over American Vania King on Wednesday as her first major atop the rankings continued to gather momentum.
The 20-year-old Danish player was never troubled in the 58-minute match, breaking 88th-ranked King’s serve to finish it off and reach the third round for a 13th consecutive Grand Slam tournament. She has yet to win a major, but has held the No. 1 ranking since October and can retain it by reaching the semifinals here.
To get to the semis, she might have to beat seven-time Grand Slam winner Justine Henin, who continued her comeback from injury with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Elena Baltacha of Britain on center court.
The pair could meet in the quarterfinals. Henin will have to get through a tough match against two-time major winner Svetlana Kuznetsova just to get past the third round. The 23-seeded Kuznetsova beat Dutch qualifier Arantxa Rus 6-1, 6-4.
“I have a lot of good memories, almost all good memories, from Melbourne,” said Henin, the 2004 Australian champion and runner-up here in 2006 and last year, when she was returning from a career break from the tour.
Her comeback was stalled after Wimbledon – she couldn’t play because of an elbow injury – and is making another return of sorts at Melbourne Park.
“I’ve been fighting hard the last few months and it’s great to be back in Australia.”
No. 8 Victoria Azarenka, the 2010 quarterfinalist who has lost to Serena Williams the past three years here, beat Andrea Hlavackova 6-4, 6-4.
On the men’s side, Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych needed four match points, struggling to finish it off with his serve in the last game, to beat Philipp Kohlschreiber 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4.
No. 8 Andy Roddick had no such trouble, firing his 17th ace to finish off a 7-6 (7), 6-2, 6-3 second-round win over Igor Kunitsyn of Russia.
The former No. 1-ranked Roddick is into the third round at Melbourne Park for the ninth straight time.
He said he was finding his range.
“I think when you’re confident, the court just makes sense; decisions come easier to you,” he said. “A lot of it comes naturally. There’s not a whole lot of thought process. You’re not forcing a lot. The ball kind of, I guess, reacts the way you want it to.
“So I feel comfortable out there right now.”
Roddick’s friend and U.S. Davis Cup teammate Mardy Fish made a second-round exit, the No. 16 seed losing 1-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 to Tommy Robredo.
No. 9 Fernando Verdasco rallied from two sets down to beat Serbia’s Janko Tipsarevic 2-6, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (0), 6-0, conceding just one point on his serve in the last set. Verdasco has a history of five-set matches here – his 5-hour, 14-minute semifinal loss to Rafael Nadal two years ago was the longest match ever at the Australian Open.
No. 17 Ivan Ljubicic and No. 28 Richard Gasquet also advanced, while Japan’s Kei Nishikori beat Germany’s Florian Mayer 6-4, 6-3, 0-6, 6-3.
Including Wozniacki, three women could finish the tournament at No. 1. Kim Clijsters and Vera Zvonareva are the others, and they opened with straight sets first-round wins on Tuesday.
Clijsters had no charity for former No. 1-ranked Dinara Safina in a 6-0, 6-0 victory.
“I expect my opponent to come out and play their best tennis. She obviously didn’t do that,” said Clijsters, who has won the U.S. Open twice since returning to the tour from a break to have a child. “But my attitude still was there to try and finish it off and not let her get back in the match.”
The first-round match involving Lleyton Hewitt, Clijsters’ ex-fiance, was altogether different – a 4-hour, 48-minute five-set loss to David Nalbandian that ended at 1:10 a.m. Wednesday.
Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, the 2008 Australian Open finalist, came back from two sets down for the first time in his career in another late five-setter.
In 15 runs at the Australian Open, Hewitt’s best finish was his 2005 final defeat. He’ll be 30 next month. Australia hasn’t produced a homegrown winner of the national championship since Mark Edmondson in 1976. The drought isn’t likely to end soon.
Now all the talk in Melbourne will be about Nadal and his pursuit for a “Rafa Slam.”
The Spaniard played only 11 games in his opening match Tuesday, the match curtailed because of Marcos Daniel’s injured left knee. Not content to extend his Grand Slam string of 22 match wins with the 6-0, 5-0 scoreline, Nadal went to the practice courts to work on his serve. That’s the element of his game he thinks he needs to improve to become the first man in 41 years to hold all four majors at once.
Rod Laver last did it in 1969, in a calendar year. Nadal’s bid for a “Rafa Slam” started a few months after he limped out of Melbourne Park last year with an injured knee after retiring from his Australian Open quarterfinal against Andy Murray. He then won the French, Wimbledon and U.S. Open titles.
Murray, who lost last year’s Australian final to Roger Federer, didn’t have to go three full sets, either. He was leading Karol Beck 6-3, 6-1, 4-2 when the Slovakian retired with a shoulder problem. No. 4 Robin Soderling defeated Potito Starace 6-4, 6-2, 6-2.
After lopsided first-round wins, Federer and 2008 champion Novak Djokovic are back in action Wednesday in the second round.
Federer plays Gilles Simon, whom he hasn’t beaten in their two previous matches and is one of only three men on tour with a winning record against him.