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Page last updated at 13:35 GMT, Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Australian Open: Federer survives scare from Simon

Australian Open, Melbourne
Venue: Melbourne Park Dates: 17-30 January
Coverage: Watch on BBC TV, Red Button, BBC Sport website (UK only) & Eurosport; listen on BBC 5 live sports extra and online; text commentary online; full details

Roger Federer

Federer wins crucial break in final set

Defending champion Roger Federer withstood a brave fightback by Frenchman Gilles Simon to reach the third round of the Australian Open.

Federer looked to be cruising when he led by two sets to love but Simon started to give him more problems and won the next two to level the match.

But the second seed held his nerve in the decider to wrap up a 6-2 6-3 4-6 4-6 6-3 victory.

Third seed Novak Djokovic and Andy Roddick also advanced.

Federer had lost his two previous matches against the Frenchman who was ranked as high as sixth in 2009 but was forced out of the game for a lengthy spell last year with knee problems.

But in the first two sets, it seemed like Federer would cruise through to the third round.

After forcing Simon to save break points in the opening game, the second seed won five games in a row to take a stranglehold on the match.

Roger Federer

Federer corrects Courier questioning

He then promptly broke again at the start of the second set and after only an hour and eight minutes he held a two-set lead.

But, at the start of the third set, the momentum suddenly changed. Simon began to find the corners with his groundstrokes and Federer started to misfire.

It was a topsy-turvy affair as the world number 34 went two breaks up and, although Federer retrieved one, he immediately gave it back. The 29-year-old then made it four breaks in a row but Simon held firm to serve out the set.

In contrast, the fourth set was tense and nervy, with the Frenchman now firmly warming to his task while his opponent was struggling to find the winners that normally flow so easily from his racquet.

In the ninth game, Federer slipped to 0-40 and, although he saved two break points, Simon powered a return winner on the third and duly served out to level the match.

The decider began with the very real prospect of the 16-time grand slam champion exiting at the second-round stage, and he was immediately forced to fight back from 0-30 down.

In the sixth game, though, Federer found some magic and secured the crucial break.

There was still a twist as Simon faced three match points on his own serve only to save them all.

A fourth came and went but, after three hours and 13 minutes, Federer finally took his fifth opportunity with an ace to set up another potentially-tricky meeting with Belgian Xavier Malisse.

"Matches against Simon don't come easy, every time we go the distance. Hopefully we won't play each other anymore," said Federer

"I am happy to get through, just keep moving on in the draw and try to find an opponent who suits me more.

I am just sad I had to play Roger at this stage of the tournament because I was feeling good

Gilles Simon

"I thought the match was great, it was played at a very high level for a long time, I thought I played great and am very happy."

Simon felt the point at which his comeback stalled arrived at the start of the final set.

"At the beginning of the fifth he played a very good game," said the Frenchman. "We were one-all 0-30 on his serve and he played four good points in a row.

"And from there he did much better on his serve and the second shot.

"There aren't too many players who can go longer than me but Roger is one of them.

"I am just sad I had to play Roger at this stage of the tournament because I was feeling good."

Djokovic toiled through the opening two sets of his game against Croatia's Ivan Dodig before finally upping his game to record a 7-5 6-7 (8/10) 6-0 6-2 victory in two hours, 21 minutes.

The Serb was particularly subdued early on before coming to life in the latter stages of the first set.

He earned a set point at 5-4 up but could not convert, dumping a weak backhand into the net.

But he made no mistake in Dodig's next service game, creating two more chances and taking the second with a drive volley behind his opponent.

Dodig continued to trade blows with his more illustrious opponent in the second set but he failed to capitalise on the chances he created and Djokovic struck to establish a 5-3 lead.

But Dodig hit back with his first break of the match and the set eventually went to a tie-break.

Both players had their chances but it was Dodig who found the breakthrough at the third time of asking.

Djokovic responded by breaking twice at the start of the third set to establish a 3-0 lead and he wrapped up the set in just 28 minutes and ploughed through the fourth set to set up a third-round meeting with countryman Viktor Troicki.

Roddick defeated Russia's Igor Kunitsyn, who is ranked 99 in the world, 7-6 (9-7) 6-2 6-3.

Fernando Verdasco
Verdasco conceded just one point on his serve in the last set

Kunitsyn made a fine start as he pushed Roddick until the American edged the tie-break and three-time finalist Roddick then turned on the style in the next two sets to claim victory in just over two hours.

Ninth seed Fernando Verdasco produced a superb fightback from two sets down to beat Janko Tipsarevic in a thriller.

The Serbian took the first two sets but squandered three opportunities at match point in the third and fourth to hand the initiative back to the Spaniard.

And Verdasco took full advantage of world number 49 Tipsarevic's rapidly receding confidence to complete a sensational 2-6 4-6 6-4 7-6 (7-0) 6-0 victory in just under four hours on the Hisense Arena.

"It was a very important win after coming again two sets to love down, and also saving the match point in the fourth set," said the 27-year-old.

"It's very positive for me. He was playing really good and aggressive, so I just tried to be a little bit more aggressive with my serve and with my forehand.

"I was really close to losing. I think my mentality was the key, one of the biggest keys today to come back."

Verdasco next opponent is Japan's Kei Nishikori, who beat Germany's Florian Mayer 6-4 6-3 0-6 6-3.

Sixth seed and 2010 Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych responded admirably from losing the first set against Philipp Kohlschreiber to claim a 4-6 6-2 6-3 6-4 victory against the German and set up a third-round encounter against Frenchman Richard Gasquet.

The 28th seed recorded a straight sets 6-3 7-6 6-4 victory over compatriot Adrian Mannarino on Court Eight.

Meanwhile, Roddick will play Robin Haase in the next round after the Dutchman accounted for Argentina's 26th seed Juan Monaco 6-4 6-4 3-6 6-2 in Court Six.

Roddick admitted he had been startled by his opponent's tactics during the first set.

606: DEBATE

"He was very convinced of his game plan and executed it well," said the 28-year-old. "I don't think he wanted to settle into long points.

"It was very high risk, but he was converting for pretty much all the first set.

"But the pattern started playing itself out, so I was able to kind of adjust and get the ball to where I wanted to, where I was pushing to his forehand side.

"Once I was able to establish that neutral ball, I felt like the dynamic of the point started shifting to my direction."

American 16th seed Mardy Fish became the first high-profile casualty on day three after a 1-6 6-3 6-3 6-3 defeat by Spaniard Tommy Robredo.

Fish, who reached the quarter-finals in 2009, made 51 unforced errors during the match on Court Three.

Robredo will play Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky, who beat Poland's Lukasz Kubot 6-3 6-4 6-4.

Croatian 17th seed Ivan Ljubicic booked his place in the next round following a 6-3 6-7 6-4 7-6 (7-5) victory over Frenchman Benoit Paire.

The 31-year-old, who reached the quarter-finals in Melbourne Park four years ago, will play 14th seed Nicolas Almagro who beat Russia's Igor Andreev, 7-5 2-6 4-6 7-6 (10-8) 7-5.



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see also
Nadal through as Daniel retires
18 Jan 11 |  Tennis
Australian Open photos
18 Jan 11 |  Tennis
Murray opens with Melbourne win
18 Jan 11 |  Tennis
Clijsters destroys lowly Safina
18 Jan 11 |  Tennis
Federer breezes into second round
17 Jan 11 |  Tennis
Nadal & Federer eye Aussie battle
16 Jan 11 |  Tennis
Men's singles latest
21 May 10 |  Tennis
Order of play
23 May 09 |  Tennis
Men's singles draw
26 Aug 11 |  Tennis


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