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Federer's wizardry bamboozles court magician
Ossian Shine | January 17, 2008 09:32 IST
Last Updated: January 17, 2008 12:43 IST
Roger Federer's [Images] sleight of hand proved too bamboozling for court magician Fabrice Santoro as Melbourne Park was treated to a sporting masterclass on Thursday.
Venus Williams cantered into the Australian Open third round and second seed Svetlana Kuznetsova also came through but neither could match the mastery of Swiss top seed Federer.
Santoro has long been a wizard of the court. Armed with an arsenal of unconventional shots, wristy groundstrokes -- hit with two hands of both sides -- and a heavy reliance on slice, his game has confounded the world's best over the years.
But he had no answer to a dominant Federer whose own heavy spin left the Frenchman flapping at the air as the balls flew past his despairing lunges.
Santoro, 35, was playing in a record 62nd Grand Slam singles tournament. Rarely could he have lost so comprehensively as in this 6-1, 6-2, 6-0 thrashing.
"Everything looks easy to him," the Frenchman smiled. "There is no space to play. There is no space to hit aces because he's returning everything.
"He has time when he's attacking. He has time when he's on the defence, too.
"He has always time to play. He's never in a rush or anything. When he's coming to the net, there is no space to pass him.
"I'd love to play him once again. Because it's so beautiful, what he's doing."
Federer, bidding for a third successive Australian Open title, downplayed his dominance.
"I played really in a smart way," the Swiss said. "The scoreline was very one-sided, so that was good for me anyway."
Venus hit back from behind in both sets before beating Frenchwoman Camille Pin 7-5, 6-4.
"She plays a really feisty game, brings a lot of balls back, and a lot of balls low," Williams told reporters. "And she was definitely on her best tennis today."
Wimbledon champion Williams next faces Indian Sania Mirza [Images].
"She's a good player," Williams said. "She tries to play aggressive. Looks like she enjoys herself out there."
Second seed Kuznetsova was far from convincing in her 7-6, 6-2 victory over Bulgaria's Tsvetana Pironkova.
"I didn't start well, definitely, and I was messing it up, and she was playing pretty good," the Russian reflected.
"Then I was getting a bit tighter and I still didn't play my game. It's not easy to get the rhythm."
World number three and fans' favourite Ana Ivanovic opens night play on centre court later when she tackles Italy's [Images] Tathiana Garbin.
The Serb fourth seed will be followed by fiery former champion Marat Safin [Images] who faces Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis.