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Rediff.com  » Sports » Aus Open Images: Top seeds cruise on Day 3

Aus Open Images: Top seeds cruise on Day 3

Last updated on: January 19, 2011 17:11 IST

'It was really tough'

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Venus Williams hobbled while Caroline Wozniacki and Justine Henin cantered on Wednesday but all three reached the third round of an Australian Open where upsets continue to be thin on the ground.

Williams, returning to action here for the first time since last year's US Open, was severely hampered by what appeared to be a groin problem but still managed to scramble a 6-7, 6-0, 6-4 victory over world number 97 Sandra Zahlavova.

The seven-times Grand Slam winner took a medical timeout after losing the first set tiebreak and then gritted her teeth and summoned up her wealth of experience to grind out a victory in a shade over three hours.

"It was really tough," Williams, flying the family flag alone this year in the absence of injured 2010 champion Serena. "But I'm a long way from home. It's such a long way home and I didn't want to go back yet.

"You've got to be able play in all circumstances -- good, bad strange, weird, bizarre. I haven't retired from a match in a long time. I have to go to the bitter end," she added.


Image: Venus Williams reacts after winning her match against Sandra Zahlavova at the Australian Open
Photographs: Reuters
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'I believe that I'm a really good player'

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Top women's seed Wozniacki earlier looked in fine fettle as she took just 58 minutes to overpower American Vania King 6-1, 6-0, continuing an impressive start to her attempt to vindicate her number one ranking with a first Grand Slam title.

Wozniacki's win set up a third round opportunity to avenge her loss last week in Sydney to Slovakia's Dominika Cibulova, who advanced with a 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 win over Italian Alberta Brianti.

"I definitely felt like I was playing good tennis today," 20-year-old Wozniacki said, adding: "I believe that I'm a really good player, I can beat anyone on a good day."


Image: Caroline Wozniacki returns during her match against Vania King at the Australian Open

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Clinical Hennin cruises past Baltacha

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Henin was shaking hands with the umpire on Rod Laver Arena moments after Wozniacki clinched her win, having put Briton Elena Baltacha to the sword 6-1, 6-3.

Seeded a lowly 11th, Henin was still feeling the elbow injury that kept her out of the game for six months last year and said the unseasonably low temperatures had not helped.

"It's the worst conditions actually," said Henin, the 2004 champion at Melbourne Park. "The weather doesn't help, that's for sure. So I wasn't feeling at my best on this part today.

"But I have to deal with it and get ready, be focused on your game, even if it's not easy. But I did a good job about that," she added.

Twice Grand Slam winner Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia, a 6-1, 6-4 winner over Dutch qualifier Arantxa Rus, stands in Henin's path to the fourth round.

France's 15th seed Marion Bartoli was beaten 3-6, 6-3, 6-0 by Vesna Manasieva of Russia but 2009 champion Maria Sharapova survived an early scare to rally to a 7-6, 6-3 victory over Virginie Razzano in another Franco-Russian encounter.


Image: Justine Henin returns during her match against Elena Baltacha at the Australian Open

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Shrieking Sharapova roars past Razzano

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Maria Sharapova may have left Virginie Razzano with permanent ear damage after screaming her way to an error-strewn 7-6, 6-3 second round victory over her French opponent at the Australian Open on Wednesday.

Yelling mightily with effort on virtually every point, the former world number one spotted Razzano a 3-0 lead before pegging her back and finally taking an erratic first set on a tiebreak 7-3.

Sharapova, Melbourne champion in 2008, pumped her fists yelling "Come on!" after pounding down a big serve to win the breaker, but her unpredictable play continued in the second set.

The Russian 14th seed roared with relief when she whacked a forehand crosscourt to take a 5-3 lead and the three-times grand slam champion threatened to break the sound barrier when she blasted down another huge serve to advance after a shade over two hours.


Image: Maria Sharapova reacts during her match against Virginie Razzano at the Australian Open

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Ironman Roddick rejects burn-out fears

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Andy Roddick insisted he was ready to slug it out toe-to-toe with anyone left standing after reaching the third round of the Australian Open on Wednesday.

The American, who memorably beat Morocco's Younes El Aynaoui 21-19 in the final set of a record-breaking Melbourne quarter-final in 2003, warned he still had the legs after 11 years on tour.

"Every match has the potential to go five hours," Roddick told reporters after beating Russia's Igor Kunitsyn 7-6, 6-2, 6-3 in the second round.

"You prepare accordingly. You learn what an important part nutrition plays, sleep plays, hydration plays. If you have any energy left in the tank that's a good thing," he added.


Image: Andy Roddick serves during his match against Younes El Aynaoui at the Australian Open

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'I'm certainly still motivated'

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Roddick, the 2003 US Open champion, has reached the Australian Open semi-finals on four occasions, and was his usual bundle of energy against Kunitsyn.

"I have a tough time remembering what my excitement level was back in 2002," said the big-serving eighth seed.

"But I'm certainly still motivated. I love what I do. I realise that I'm one of the lucky ones who gets to do this. It's about treating it with respect and not short-changing yourself," he added.

Roddick, who takes on Dutchman Robin Haase next in Melbourne, tipped his hat to grand slam record holder Roger Federer for his continued hunger for the game at 29.

"He enjoys himself," the American said. "Unlike some champions in the past, I don't think it's a tortured existence to be good at this game for him. He honestly enjoys it.

"I don't know if I get surprised by that. I certainly get up and am motivated too. I haven't won nearly as much as Roger but the time has been about the same," he added.


Image: Andy Roddick reacts after winning his match at the Australian Open

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'I kept fighting all the time'

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Former world number five Tommy Robredo also registered something of an upset with a 1-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 victory over American 16th seed Mardy Fish.

Robredo's fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco faced an early exit but made a great escape by coming back from two sets down and saving a match point in the fourth set on his way to a 2-6, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6, 6-0 win over Serbian Janko Tipsarevic.

"I kept fighting all the time, because I was really close to losing today," said the ninth seed.

"I think that just my mentality was one of the biggest keys to my comeback today," he added.

Thomas Berdych also had to fight back after losing the first set to German Philipp Kohlschreiber but the sixth seeded Czech found his range and ran out a comfortable 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 winner.


Image: Fernando Verdasco reacts after winning his match against Janko Tipsarevic at the Australian Open

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