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SERENA wins through pain

By unknown | Jan 23, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

MELBOURNE - Serena Williams ignored pain and frustration to beat Gisela Dulko in the Australian Open yesterday.

MELBOURNE - Serena Williams ignored pain and frustration to beat Gisela Dulko in the Australian Open yesterday.

The second-seeded Williams' 6-3, 7-5 victory was far from routine, unlike Rafael Nadal's 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 win over Croatia's Roko Karanusic.

Williams, hoping to extend a sequence of winning the Australian title every other year since 2003, fended off six set points in the ninth game of the second set to prevent the match going to a third. That game went to 12 deuces before Williams broke.

She had a brace removed from her left ankle in the changeover and, although grimacing with pain, held and then broke Dulko again - this game going to deuce a half-dozen times - to get her chance to serve it out.

After all that, the nine-time grand slam winner finished with an ace on her first match point, advancing in 1 hour, 50 minutes.

Nadal had an easier time in his second-round match against Karanusic, fending off the bearded Croat's six break-point chances and converting on six of the seven opportunities he had.

He will next play German veteran Tommy Haas, who beat Flavio Cipolla of Italy 6-1, 6-2, 6-1.

Nadal has won four straight French Open titles on clay, had a breakthrough win over Roger Federer on grass at Wimbledon last year and led the tour in 2008 with a 46-10 record on hard courts.

But he has never made a final at the Australian or US Opens - the two majors on hard courts.

No 13 Fernando Gonzalez of Chile, the 2007 runner-up, moved on with a 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Argentina's Guillermo Canas.

Also advancing were No. 6 Gilles Simon, No 12 Gael Monfils, No 14 Fernando Verdasco, No 17 Nicolas Almagro, No 22 Radek Stepanek, No 24 Richard Gasquet and No 31 Jurgen Melzer.

Dudi Sela was the first Israeli man to make the third round of a major since 1994 when he beat Romania's Victor Hanescu 6-3, 6-3, 6-2.

Mario Ancic beat fellow Croatian Ivo Karlovic 5-7, 7-5, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, knocking out the No 25 seed.

On the women's side, Olympic champion Elena Dementieva improved her 2009 winning streak to 12 matches with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Iveta Benesova.

Dementieva, who won titles at Auckland and Sydney before the season's first major, struggled with her serve early but recovered to finish the match in 72 minutes.

The 27-year-old's highlight last year was a win over fellow Russian Dinara Safina in the gold medal match at the Beijing Olympics.

Amelie Mauresmo, who won here and at Wimbledon in 2006, rallied for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 win over Britain's Elena Baltacha. Mauresmo, a former No. 1 seed but now 20th after an injury-plagued 2008, advanced when Baltacha double-faulted on match point.

Other women advancing included No 12 Flavia Pennetta of Italy, No 13 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, No 18 Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia, No 21 Anabel Medina Garrigues of Spain and China's Zheng Jie, seeded 22nd. - Sapa-AP


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