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Top seed Nadal hammers Karanusic

AUSTRALIAN OPEN
Venue: Melbourne Park Date: 19 January-1 February
Coverage: BBC Red Button, BBC One & Two (including all Andy Murray matches), Radio 5 Live sports extra, BBC Sport website (Red Button coverage streamed on website throughout fortnight)


Rafael Nadal
Nadal eased to victory against a markedly inferior opponent

Top seed Rafael Nadal was barely troubled as he progressed to the third round of the Australian Open with a 6-2 6-3 6-2 victory over Roko Karanusic.

The Croat, ranked 92nd in the world, proved no match for Spaniard Nadal, who won in just over 90 minutes.

Nadal will face Tommy Haas, who beat Flavio Cipolla, in the third round.

Last year's runner-up Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is also through after a 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (10-8) 7-6 (9-7) 6-2 victory over Croatia's Ivan Ljubicic.

In other matches, sixth seed Gilles Simon beat Australian Chris Guccione 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-1 6-2, while 13th seed Fernando Gonzalez defeated Guillermo Canas 7-5 6-3 6-4.

When you win (other) tournaments playing against the best players of the world, why can't you win a Grand Slam on hard courts?

Rafael Nadal

Nadal

lost the opening game of the match but battled back and broke serve in the fifth game to go 3-2 ahead before closing out the remainder of the set.

The 22-year-old Spaniard, whose best performance at the Australian Open was his semi-final appearance last year, took 39 minutes to wrap up the second set and twice broke Karanusic's serve in the third to take the match.

"He played aggressively, it's not easy to play against someone who plays inside the court and hits big shots with the forehand," said Nadal, who only missed one break point in the match.

"But I feel very comfortable here and I'm very happy with the victory."

Nadal added that he felt a first hard-court Grand Slam title was now within his reach.

"I'm always trying to improve on this surface," he said.

"When you win (other) tournaments playing against the best players of the world, why can't you win a Grand Slam on hard courts?

"Hopefully this year I'll have a chance to win here or at the US Open."

Fifth seed Tsonga's advancement to round three was anything but straight-forward.

The 23-year-old endured a marathon 195-minute examination by Ljubicic in an enthralling match that featured only four breaks of serve.

Ljubicic gave the Frenchman an early scare by taking the first set but Tsonga rallied to claim the next two before breaking twice to claim the decisive fourth.

Tsonga appeared to be feeling his back on occasion, but he denied the injury - which kept him out of the Sydney warm-up tournament - would hamper him in his third-round match against Dudi Sela.

"I played really well out there," he said. "I was proud of myself because I was very courageous today.

"Tonight my back was very stiff but I won. I'm happy with that. I know I can play with (it)."

Sela became the first Israeli man to make the third round of a Grand Slam since 1994 when he beat Romania's Victor Hanescu.

Gilles Simon
Simon has never made it past the third round of a Grand Slam

Simon

initially struggled against giant Australian left-hander Guccione, the last local player in the men's singles draw.

Guccione, 23, won the first set but failed to maintain his momentum on home soil, and Frenchman Simon eventually managed to blunt Guccione's booming serve.

"It's never easy to play him because he's got a huge serve," said Simon.

"It's so hard to return it, even his second serves are hard to return. I had to give the maximum and concentrate on every point because if you lose your serve against him, that means you lose the set."

Simon will now face Mario Ancic as he aims to progress past the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time.

Croatian Ancic, 24, came through a marathon five-set match against compatriot Ivo Karlovic.

Ancic and his 25th-seeded opponent traded sets until the fifth, where Ancic finally got the break before tucking away a poorly-executed Karlovic drop-shot to win the match 5-7 7-5 4-6 6-4 6-3.

This was perfect after the other day. The other day was really hard, today was more windy

Fernando Gonzalez

Chilean Gonzalez wasted little time in beating Argentine Canas in straight sets.

Gonzalez, finalist at the 2007 Australian Open, out-punched Canas in a tight first set before storming on to win in two hours and 19 minutes.

He blasted 52 winners despite strong winds at Melbourne Park, contrasting with the fierce heat of his opening match against Lleyton Hewitt.

"This was perfect after the other day. The other day was really hard, today was more windy and it was tough to play," said Gonzalez, who faces Richard Gasquet in the third round after the French 24th seed beat Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin 6-3 6-4 6-4.

Spanish 14th seed Fernando Verdasco was another emphatic straight-sets winner, dismissing France's Arnaud Clement 6-1 6-1 6-2, but French 12th seed Gael Monfils had to work harder to overcome Austria's Stefan Koubek 6-4 6-4 3-6 6-2.

Jurgen Melzer of Austria, seeded 31st, came through in four sets against Germany's Andreas Beck, beating the 22-year-old 5-7 7-6 (9-7) 6-4 6-3.

Melzer will face Britain's Andy Murray in round three after the fourth seed's straight-sets win over Spaniard Marcel Granollers.

Murray has won all three previous encounters with Melzer, including a five-set marathon at last year's US Open.

Germany's Haas raced to a lightning-quick victory over Cipolla, demolishing the Italian 6-1 6-2 6-1, but fellow countryman Michael Berrer lost in four sets to Radek Stepanek.

The Czech 22nd seed won 6-3 6-2 6-7 (3-7) 7-5 to set up a third-round clash with Verdasco.



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see also
Serena battles into third round
22 Jan 09 |  Tennis
Mauresmo triumphs over Baltacha
22 Jan 09 |  Tennis
Murray receives night-match boost
21 Jan 09 |  Tennis
Aussie Open day four photos
22 Jan 09 |  Tennis
Aussie Open day four quotes
22 Jan 09 |  Tennis
Order of play
19 Jan 09 |  Tennis
Men's singles draw
26 Aug 11 |  Tennis
Women's singles draw
28 Jan 10 |  Tennis
Tennis on the BBC
07 Jan 09 |  Tennis


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