Davydenko extends winning streak, moves into third round
MELBOURNE, Australia – Nikolay Davydenko moved into the third round of the Australian Open in the low-key manner which has typified an 11-match winning streak, including title runs at the World Tour Finals and Doha.
The sixth-seeded Russian beat Ukraine qualifier Illya Marchenko a 6-3, 6-3, 6-0 Thursday on Show Court 2, which is No. 4 in the pecking order of courts at Melbourne Park.
The 28-year-old Davydenko doesn’t have the profile of Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal, and he’s never made a Grand Slam final, but nobody has been playing better of late.
Former No. 1-ranked Ana Ivanovic has the profile, but no recent form to go with it. The 22-year-old Serb extended her run of poor results in a second-round 6-7 (6), 7-5, 6-4 loss to Gisela Dulko of Argentina.
Dulko was broken twice while serving for the match before finally breaking Ivanovic’s serve – helped by two double-faults from the 2008 French Open champion – to clinch a place in the third round on her sixth match point.
Ivanovic, who lost the 2008 final here, has slipped to No. 21 in the rankings and didn’t win a tournament in 2009. It was her first loss to Dulko in their three meetings.
In another early women’s result, No. 10 Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland advanced 6-0, 6-2 over Russia’s Alla Kudryavtseva.
Davydenko beat both top-ranked and No. 2 Nadal on his way to two titles in the last two months, including the Qatar Open this month where he saved two match points before a comeback win over Nadal in the final.
His best run at the Australian Open ended in a fourth-round loss in 2008. He did not play here last year due to a left heel injury, breaking a streak of 29 straight Grand Slam tournaments back to the 2001 U.S. Open.
If players progress according to their seedings, Davydenko would meet 15-time Grand Slam singles champion Federer in the quarterfinals here.
Federer was playing later Thursday against Victor Hanescu of Romania.
Only seven matches into her comeback, Justine Henin held off fifth-ranked Elena Dementieva 7-5, 7-6 (6), winning the last three points of the tiebreaker to clinch a second-round victory worthy of a final on Wednesday night. She ended it on her second match point – 24 minutes after she missed her first chance against the Olympic champion.
Henin, who retired in May 2008 while she was ranked No. 1, knows she’s capable of reproducing the form that took her to seven major singles titles.
“I lived so much emotion on the court this evening. It was magical,” she said. “I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to do it, but it was the kind of situation I needed to refind my confidence.”
On the men’s side, Juan Martin del Potro, the 21-year-old Argentine who upset Roger Federer to win last year’s U.S. Open, needed 4 hours, 17 minutes to hold off James Blake 6-4, 6-7 (3), 5-7, 6-3, 10-8.
By contrast, defending champion Nadal and his potential quarterfinal rival Andy Murray each won in straight sets to reach the third round.
Former No. 1 Andy Roddick also advanced in straights sets, although the American finished his 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 win over Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci with an expletive-laden rant against Irish chair umpire Fergus Murphy over an interpretation of the rules. He later apologized in a news conference, and via Twitter.
Defending women’s champion Serena Williams, playing her first major since she was fined $82,500 for a profanity-laced tirade against a line judge during her U.S. Open semifinal loss to eventual champion Kim Clijsters, was to play Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic on Thursday.
Following her victory Wednesday, Henin recalled her loss to fellow Belgian Clijsters in the Brisbane International final less than two weeks ago – in her first tournament action in 20 months. With a quarterfinal against Clijsters on the radar here, Henin put some lessons into play.
After recovering from a set and a break down against Clijsters, Henin was unable to convert two match points before lost a momentum-swinging, three-set final.
“And today I thought it was going to happen again,” she said. “I really thought in the tiebreak I wouldn’t be strong enough. And when I got the opportunities, and the way I finished on serve and volley, I mean, it was the best I could dream of.”
It was Clijsters’ win at the U.S. Open last September which inspired Henin to return. Clijsters won the major only three tournaments into a comeback after two years off the circuit during which she got married and had a baby.
Now they’ve both progressed halfway to a quarterfinal meeting.