Federer, Williams advance at Aussie Open

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor


Associated Press

MELBOURNE, Australia - Roger Federer, Andy Roddick, Amelie Mauresmo and Serena Williams all posted straight-set victories Wednesday to advance to the third round of the Australian Open, serving notice they're rounding into form after some opening-match nerves and glitches.
But Marcos Baghdatis, last year's losing finalist to Federer and a crowd darling, was ousted by Gael Monfils of France, who shrugged off a sore foot to advance 7-6 (5), 6-2, 2-6, 6-0.
Roddick and Williams set up showdowns with tough opponents. Sixth-seeded Roddick beat Frenchman Marc Gicquel, 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-4 and next faces 2005 Australian Open champion Marat Safin, who is seeded 26th after a knee injury kept him from defending his title last year.
"When I saw the draw, I think I expected to play Marat," Roddick said. "I think we're both maybe better than a third-round matchup against each other. But that's the way it shakes out."
Safin was shaky in going the distance for the second consecutive match, benefiting from a rain break to rally from a set down to oust Dudi Sela of Israel 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-0 in a match with 20 service breaks.
Play was halted with Safin serving at 5-6, 30-30 in the fourth set. After the roof was closed, Safin came out sharp, serving an ace on the first point and running through the tiebreaker against Sela, who lived down to his No. 202 ranking the rest of the way.
"If the rain doesn't come, I was lost," Safin said.
Baghdatis, seeded 11th, couldn't hope for such intervention, as the roof stayed closed for his match against the 20-year-old Monfils, who was plagued last year by a stress fracture in his left foot and sprains to his right.
Monfils took the first two sets, mixing whiplike groundstrokes with deft, well-disguised drops shots, and windmilling his arms after key points to get the crowd wound up.
Then the left foot started bothering him again, and he sought treatment after dropping the third set. Baghdatis' supporters from Melbourne's large Greek community were roaring and it looked like he might rally.
But Monfils ran off the last six games, grabbing his face in near disbelief when Baghdatis hit a forehand long on match point.
Defending woman's champion Mauresmo, seeded second, beat Olga Poutchkova 6-2, 6-2 and next faces unseeded Eva Birnerova.
Williams, a two-time champion here but unseeded after dealing with a knee injury, will play No. 5 Nadia Petrova.
"It's definitely a step up," Williams said. "I feel excited to go into the match. I feel ready."
On a much cooler day after searing heat postponed several matches Tuesday, top-ranked Federer generated his own heat, ripping six forehand winners in the first three games while dominating Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden 6-2, 6-3, 6-2.
"I think I was pretty much in control of the match today," said Federer, seeking his 10th Grand Slam title and third in a row.
Federer served for the match just as the sun broke through the clouds briefly. On the final point, he jumped high for an overhead. Bjorkman got it back, only to have Federer whack another overhead, this time out of reach.
Federer next meets U.S. Open semifinalist Mikhail Youzhny after the 25th-seeded Russian beat Lu Yen-hsen of Taiwan 7-5, 6-4, 6-4. Next could be No. 14-seeded Novak Djokovic, who beat Feliciano Lopez in straight sets.
Roddick and Gicquel engaged in long rallies. The Frenchman won one 34-shot exchange, but it wasn't enough.
After fending off three break points in the first set, Roddick never faced another. He steadily cranked up his serve, smacking an ace to finish off the second-set tiebreaker. He finished with 18.
"Today, it felt like there was some good stuff. Feel like I'm pretty close to playing clean tennis," Roddick said.
Williams, who won the last of her seven Grand Slam titles here in 2005, rallied from 1-4 in the tiebreaker in her 7-6 (4), 6-2 win over Luxembourg's Anne Kremer.
"I was making a tremendous amount of errors. I just couldn't get the balls in for some reason," Williams said. "And the second set I was making more shots and I was playing just more what I had planned, more of the game that I had practiced."
Thailand's Danai Udomchoke upset No. 24 Juan Carlos Ferrero to oust the former world No. 1. A former Australian Open champion also tumbled, with 2002 winner Thomas Johansson losing to No. 16 David Ferrer.
Veteran Australian Wayne Arthurs beat American qualifier Zach Fleishman, who had his hair dyed in red, white and blue stripes. Other men's winners included No. 7 Tommy Robredo, No. 9 Mario Ancic, No. 18 Richard Gasquet, No. 20 Radek Stepanek and No. 22 Dominik Hrbaty.
Advancing on the women's side were former U.S. Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, the No. 3 seed, along with Petrova, No. 7 Elena Dementieva, No. 8 Patty Schnyder, No. 9 Dinara Safina, No. 10 Nicole Vaidisova, No. 11 Jelena Jankovic, No. 15 Daniela Hantuchova.
Three seeded women lost: Lucie Safarova beat No. 14 Francesca Schiavone, Victoria Azarenko downed No. 18 Marion Bartoli and Anastasiya Yakimova ousted No. 23 Ai Sugiyama.