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Rediff.com  » Sports » Stosur melts as other seeds handle the heat at Australian Open

Stosur melts as other seeds handle the heat at Australian Open

January 17, 2012 13:06 IST

Local favourite and sixth seed Sam Stosur became the highest ranked player to crash out of the Australian Open first round on Tuesday while men's fourth seed Andy Murray was pushed by Ryan Harrison before he overcame the American teenager in four sets.

Petra Kvitova, Maria Sharapova and Novak Djokovic, however, had all ensured they spent as little time as possible in the heat with lopsided victories as temperatures in Melbourne soared for the second successive day.

- Images from day two of the Australian Open

Monday's opening day experienced temperatures around 33 degrees Celsius and while it rose a touch higher on Tuesday, cooler conditions are expected for the rest of the week.

US Open champion Stosur, however, was unable to withstand the pressure cooker environment on Rod Laver Arena in front of local fans holding heightened expectations as she crashed to a 7-6, 6-3 loss to Romania's Sorana Cirstea.

"I really, really wanted to do well here and over the (Australian) summer," Stosur told reporters.

"I did everything I could to try and give myself a good opportunity.

"It obviously didn't happen (and) it's not through lack of trying or not wanting it or anything like that. I mean, you can't pick the times that you want to play well.

"That's sport."

Maria SharapovaMurray was also in danger of following Stosur after he lost the first set to Harrison, before he rallied to win their three hour, 12 minute encounter 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.

The 24-year-old Murray also caused some concerns for his large fan base on Hisense Arena when he clutched at his right hamstring in the second set, while he also seemed to jar his right ankle in the final set shortly before he sealed victory.

LOPSIDED VICTORIES

Earlier, world number two Kvitova, who beat Sharapova last year at Wimbledon to claim her first Grand Slam title, was unruffled by the hot conditions in a ruthlessly efficient 6-2, 6-0 victory over Vera Dushevina taking a tick over one hour.

Fourth seed Sharapova, however, was as merciless on the second show court on Hisense Arena, beating Argentina's Gisela Dulko 6-0, 6-1 in 58 minutes.

Sharapova had looked like inflicting the third 'double bagel' (6-0 6-0 win) of the tournament in two years before Dulko broke her serve in the third game of the second set, to a massive cheer and sustained applause.

Kim Clijsters and Marion Bartoli recorded 6-0, 6-0 victories over Dinara Safina and Italy's Tathiana Garbin respectively last year at Melbourne Park.

Sharapova, however, was only temporarily stalled in her advance and while Dulko held three break points when the Russian was serving for the match, the three-times Grand Slam tournament champion swatted them away and marched into the second round.

DJOKOVIC RUN

Djokovic's victory in Melbourne last year sparked a remarkable 12 months in which he won three Grand Slam titles and compiled a 70-6 record as he finally overhauled Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer as the best player in men's tennis.

The Serb began his title defence in style at the year's first Grand Slam tournament with an emphatic 6-2, 6-0, 6-0 victory over Italian journeyman Paolo Lorenzi.

He had stumbled early with a break to trail 2-1 but rattled off 17 successive games to seal the match in 92 minutes.

"It took me a couple games to get into the right rhythm," Djokovic said. "You know, it's a bit difficult conditions.

"I think it was really the hottest day since I've arrived here, so trying to get used to that. But I think I played well after the first set was finished."

Fifth seed David Ferrer, a beaten semi-finalist here last year and champion in Auckland last week, also spent as little time in the blazing sunshine as possible.

The Spaniard took just one hour 44 minutes to blitz Portugal's Rui Machado 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 and progress to the second round.

 

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