Federer survives 2nd round scare at Australian Open

first_imgDefending champion Roger Federer survived a major scare at the Australian Open on Wednesday, beating Gilles Simon 6-2, 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3 in the second round of the Australian Open.Roger Federer reacts after winning a point against Gilles Simon during their second round match at the Australian Open in Melbourne on Wednesday. APFor a while, it seemed as if Simon, who had beaten Federer in their only two previous meetings, would send the Swiss star packing out of a Grand Slam before the third round for the first time since the French Open in 2003 – a total of 31 majors.But Federer, pumping his fist increasingly in celebration with each point in the final few games, broke Simon’s service in the sixth game of the deciding set to go up 4-2, held his service to go up 5-2, then held his serve two games later to clinch it on his fifth match point with an ace.”I wasn’t playing poorly in the third and fourth set, but Gilles took it to me,” Federer said. “Clearly, he’s a great player first of all. Matches against him don’t come easily … hopefully we don’t play each other anymore!”Earlier, Venus Williams was in the middle of a first-set tiebreaker when her mother yelled some encouragement from the players’ box at Rod Laver Arena.Oracene Price’s urges to “fight” were clearly intended for her daughter, but they appeared to immediately fall on deaf ears, and with good reason. On the last point of the tiebreaker she eventually lost, Venus hurt herself on a twisting backhand volley.advertisementWrithing in pain and clutching near her stomach as she walked back to her courtside chair, a WTA trainer was called and Williams took a medical timeout. A few minutes later, she returned with her upper right thigh taped and a whole new attitude.She later said she injured her “psoas” muscle, which flexes the hip and spinal column.”It was really tough, but I’m a long way from home and it’s such a long way I didn’t want to go back yet,” Williams said after surviving through a 6-7 (6), 6-0, 6-4 second-round win over her Czech opponent, Sandra Zahlavova.”You’ve got to be able to play under all kinds of circumstances – good, bad, strange, weird, all of the above. I had to just calm myself down. In the middle of a match like that, you can get a little hysterical.”Her fighting spirit – and the strapping and perhaps a painkiller – helped continue a streak in which Williams has completed all 257 singles matches she has started at Grand Slams.Never has she retired with an injury in a major.Still, she needed some help at the end, asking courtside staff – first chair umpire Alison Lang of Britain, then a ballboy – to help carry off her equipment bag and rackets. Williams was well enough to carry off her glitzy handbag, which went with her outfit – a revealing peek-a-boo lattice-style top with a multicolored satin short skirt she later referred to as her “Alice in Wonderland” outfit.The fashion stakes weren’t quite at the same level elsewhere at Melbourne Park on Wednesday, but the tennis was just as good – Novak Djokovic, Andy Roddick, top-seeded woman Caroline Wozniacki, last year’s finalist Justine Henin and 2008 champion Maria Sharapova also advanced.No. 3 Djokovic beat Ivan Dodig 7-5, 6-7 (10), 6-0, 6-2. Djokovic, who beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the 2008 final in Melbourne Park for his only Grand Slam title, is in career-best form.He appeared comfortable all over the court against Croatia’s Dodig, who nevertheless challenged Djokovic in the first two sets with a powerful serve and strong baseline shots. Djokovic answered with his own baseline winners into back corners on both sides, as well as cross court volleys on the odd occasion Dodig sliced to draw him to the net.Djokovic will next play his Davis Cup teammate Viktor Troicki after the 29th-seeded player beat Frenchman Nicolas Mahut 6-4, 6-2, 1-6, 6-3.Wozniacki advanced with a 6-1, 6-0 win over American Vania King in the Danish player’s first major as No. 1. The 20-year-old reached the third round for a 13th consecutive Grand Slam.To get to the semis, Wozniacki might have to beat seven-time Grand Slam winner Henin, who continued her comeback from injury with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Elena Baltacha of Britain.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.advertisement”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.No. 8 Victoria Azarenka, the 2010 quarterfinalist who lost to Serena Williams each of the past three years, beat Andrea Hlavackova 6-4, 6-4. Serena Williams is injured and not defending her title in Australia.In other matches, Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic beat Australian wild card Jelena Dokic 7-6 (3), 6-1, and No. 9 Li Na defeated Evgeniya Rodina of Russia 6-3, 6-2.On the men’s side, Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych needed four match points to beat Philipp Kohlschreiber 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4, and eighth-seeded Roddick fired 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.”When you’re confident, the court just makes sense; decisions come easier to you,” he said.Roddick’s 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. And ninth-seeded 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.last_img

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