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Rediff.com  » Sports » Aus Open photos: Federer, Nadal, Clijsters have it easy

Aus Open photos: Federer, Nadal, Clijsters have it easy

Last updated on: January 16, 2012 20:19 IST

Federer, Nadal, Clijsters have it easy

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Roger Federer showed no signs of back trouble, testing it at every opportunity, as he cruised into the second round of the Australian Open on Monday with a 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 victory over qualifier Alexander Kudryavtsev.

The 30-year-old Swiss, who withdrew during the lead-up Qatar Open after suffering back pain, was at his clinical best, blasting winners from all angles, wrapping the match in 98 minutes, at the Rod Laver Arena.

"I've been feeling fine for three, four days now," Federer said. "I've been able to practice full out. I really tried to put in an effort to play every point as hard as I could first to see how the back felt, try to get into it, hopefully win, and then see how I feel tomorrow.

"I'll get a lot more information tomorrow, but I'm sure I'll be fine."

Kudryavtsev drew a rare scowl from Federer, however, when he won a furious baseline skirmish to break the Swiss's serve and claw back to 3-2 in the third set.

But the 26-year-old rued clipping a net cord in the next game that set up an easy backhand winner that allowed Federer to break back and cruise to victory.

"It was just tough against a guy who hits big and flat from both sides and takes a lot of chances," Federer said.

"I was anxious to find out how I was going to play, how my opponent was going to play me.

"I was really excited and a little nervous actually going into it, which was a good feeling to have.

"I'm looking forward to the other matches."

Image: Roger Federer
Photographs: Getty Images

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Nadal survives big injury scare

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Rafael Nadal eased into the second round with a fuss-free 6-4, 6-1, 6-1 win over American Alex Kuznetsov but said he felt lucky to be on the court because of a big injury scare.

The World No 2 explained that he felt a "crack" on his right knee when sitting on a chair at his hotel on Sunday and needed physiotherapy that afternoon and all day on Monday to recover in time for his match.

"Yesterday afternoon the most strange thing happened to me," he told reporters. "I stood up and felt the knee a little bit strangely.

"I moved the leg two times to try to find some feeling. After the second time there was unbelievable pain.

"I really couldn't move the knee ... I had no movement on the knee."

Nadal said scans did not show any major problem but added he was still in pain when he started the match with qualifier Kuznetsov.

"After the first 10 games ... I started to play normally," said the 25-year-old Spaniard. "I really don't understand what happened yesterday but I am really happy that today I was ready to play and I played a fantastic match."

Nadal, who came into the tournament with a lot of focus on his injured shoulder, played with his knee strapped and took 44 minutes to wrap up the first set.

The left-hander then ran away with the next two sets, dominating from the baseline and giving Kuznetsov just two break-point opportunities when he served for victory.

The injury scare which Nadal put down to a "pinched" tendon will also send shivers down the spines of the organisers who have lost the marquee player to injury in the quarter-finals of the past two tournaments at Melbourne Park.

Nadal suffered tendonitis in both knees for several months in 2009 and was forced to miss Wimbledon.

He will meet Tommy Haas in the second round after the German beat American qualifier Denis Kudla 7-6, 3-6, 6-0, 7-5.

Image: Rafael Nadal
Photographs: Getty Images

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Clijsters starts title defence impressively

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Defending champion Kim Clijsters showed no ill effects of a recent hip injury and saw off a spirited challenge from Portuguese qualifier Maria Joao Koehler in the first round.

The Belgian struggled to get to grips with left-hander Koehler's serve in the first set but gradually moved up through the gears to run out a 7-5, 6-1 winner.

Clijsters, who beat Li Na in last year's final at Melbourne Park, said it was a good feeling to step out onto Rod Laver Arena again.

"Its great to be back, I always love coming to Australia but the feeling is even stronger after last year," said the 11th ranked Clijsters. "It's great to be back on this court as well, it brings back a lot of good memories.

"But I was focused out there because I was playing a good player. I had to be on my game from the start today."

Koehler, who beat American Julia Boserup to make the main draw, came out blazing and had Clijsters on the back foot for much of the early exchanges.

However, after double faulting to lose the first set, Koehler's serve deserted her in the second and Clijsters had no trouble seeing out the match.

Image: Kim Clijsters
Photographs: Reuters

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Li Na beats Pervak

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The 28-year-old Clijsters, who will meet China's Li in the fourth round, said she had completely recovered from the hip injury that had forced her to pull out of the Brisbane International earlier this month.

"Your body has to get used to it," she said. "It doesn't matter how hard you train in the offseason, matches put so much more strain on your body because of the emotions and the pressure and the stress involved."

Li Na began her quest to reach back-to-back Australian Open finals with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Kazakhstan's Ksenia Pervak, the world number 40.

Image: Li Na
Photographs: Getty Images

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Tomic downs Verdasco in four-hour epic

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Australia's ever-improving teenager Bernard Tomic gave the home crowds a reason to smile after recording a gripping win over Fernando Verdasco.

Nineteen-year-old Tomic rallied from two sets down to beat the Spaniard 4-6, 6-7 (3-7), 6-4, 6-2, 7-5 in 4hr 11min.

"If it was someone else, I think they would have thrown in the towel," Tomic said. "I don't know how I found the energy today. I knew I could've beaten him. I knew I had so many chances to win the first and second.

"I think that's one of the reasons that made me push to win that third. After the third, I got the confidence."

Image: Bernard Tomic
Photographs: Getty Images

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Wozniacki motors through

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Caroline Wozniacki, searching for her maiden Grand Slam title, thrashed local hope Anastasia Rodionova 6-2, 6-1 to silence the night crowd in Monday's last match at the Rod Laver Arena.

Dressed in red and oozing menace, the World No 1 from Denmark quickly broke the 103rd-ranked Australian's serve and then her spirit as she bullied her from the baseline to win their first-round match in 76 minutes.

Rodionova, who cursed and muttered throughout, permitted herself a wry smile as ironic cheers rang out when she held serve to trail 5-1 in the second set.

That proved, however, a brief delay in Wozniacki's march as she served out for victory in the next game, sealing it when the Australian hit the ball long on match-point.


Image: Caroline Wozniacki
Photographs: Getty Images

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Sania ousted by Pironkova

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India's challenge in the singles event of the season's first Grand Slam was over in just an hour and 28 minutes, as Sania Mirza went down to Bulgaria's Tsvetana Pironkova in straight sets.

Back after recovering from a knee injury, Sania showed glimpses of a fightback against Pironkova, but it was not enough. The world No. 105 Indian was beaten 4-6, 2-6.


Image: Sania Mirza


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Azarenka storms into second round

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Victoria Azarenka missed her morning coffee and was in no mood to hang around in the Melbourne heat on Monday, getting her campaign off to a winning start with a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Britain's Heather Watson.


Image: Victoria Azarenka


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'Oh my God, I need my coffee'.

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World number three Azarenka, who only arrived in Melbourne on Saturday after she won the Sydney International title, needed just 67 minutes to beat Watson, though she paid a high price for an early morning practice session on the main Rod Laver Arena.

"Actually, I didn't get my coffee in the morning today, so I was really pissed off," the 22-year-old said to laughter. "So tomorrow I'm definitely getting it.

"It was so early and I wanted to come play a little bit longer on centre court. Everything was closed.

"I said, 'Oh my God, I need my coffee'.

"So I kept trying to open my eyes without it and it was not working."


Image: Victoria Azarenka
Photographs: Getty Images

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Del Potro recovers after a sleepy start

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Juan Martin del Potro revived himself after a sleepy first set to mow down Frenchman Adrian Mannarino 2-6, 6-1, 7-5, 6-4 in the first round as heat claimed its first victim on the opening day.

Serving on set point at 5-1 in the second set, the towering Argentine was asked to hold fire after a spectator collapsed in the stands as the temperature nudged 30 degrees Celsius.

Play resumed a few minutes later after the fan was attended to and helped out of Hisense Arena by first-aid staff, allowing 11th-seeded Del Potro to crack a forehand winner and seal the set.

Mannarino, a plucky left-hander ranked 91st in the world, ensured Del Potro would have to work in the heat, but the Argentine served out the match confidently to set up a second-round match against Slovenia's Blaz Kavcic.


Image: Juan Martin Del Porto
Photographs: Getty Images
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Dellacqua eases into second round

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Australian wildcard Casey Dellacqua beat Serbia's Bojana Jovanovski 6-3, 6-2 on Margaret Court Arena just minutes after Azarenka sealed her win.

Dellacqua, who made a surprising run to the fourth round in 2008, was commentating on television at Melbourne Park last year after she had shoulder and foot surgery that kept her out of the sport for about two years.

"I was still watching a lot of tennis," the 26-year-old said. "I watched everything I possibly could. I was in touch with everything that was going on, but always with the frame of mind that I would get back.

"But I would get back when I was ready, when my body was ready, when I felt like the time was right.

"In about March last year, I thought, 'okay'. Since then I've ... been working really hard."


Image: Casey Dellacqua
Photographs: Getty Images

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'Maybe I'll play until I'm 45 or 50!'

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Japan's Kimiko Date-Krumm, at 41 the oldest player at the Australian Open, said she might continue playing until 50 after being bundled out of the year's first Grand Slam.

The former world number four became the second oldest player to compete in the Australian Open women's singles in the Open era behind Beverly Rae, who was 44 when she played in 1974.

While Date-Krumm's time was fleeting, overpowered in the first round 6-3, 6-2 by Greece's Eleni Daniilidou, it had been worth it, she said.

"Even if I lost the first round, there are still so many people watching," Date-Krumm said with an ice-pack strapped to each leg.

Date-Krumm, who returned to tennis in 2008 after a 12-year break, had to play on the ITF tour to get the ranking points to return to Melbourne, where she also lost in the first round last year.

Going through the qualifying draw would not have been an option, said Date-Krumm, whose battle-weary legs would probably not be able to stand three matches in a row.

Daylight separates her from 34-year-old Tamarine Tanasugarn, the second oldest in the singles draw.

Thousands of miles separates her from her German husband Michael Krumm, who was racing in Dubai.

"Of course, it's difficult for us, but he's also an athlete so he knows how I feel," said Date-Krumm.

"So always he says to me you can continue as you want because it's a special time, not for everybody, only a few people. In my case, not many at all," she laughed.

Date-Krumm once spoke of retirement after feeling exhausted following her tournament at the 2010 Asian Games in southern China.

But as long as she can scrape her way into the top 100 and not lose her competitive streak, she plans to be the grand old dame of Grand Slams for years to come.

"When I started (again) four years ago, I never thought I'd play these four years. I've already played four times this year, so I don't know.

"If I'm tired, I'll stop ... But I don't know, maybe I'll play until I'm 45 or 50!"


Image: Kimiko Date-Krumm
Photographs: Getty Images

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