News24

Serena powers on in Australia

2010-01-19 07:44

Melbourne - No-nonsense defending champion Serena Williams powered into the Australian Open second round on Tuesday where she was joined by in-form Russian Nicolay Davydenko.

Williams, who is searching for her 12th Grand Slam singles title to put herself alongside Billie Jean King as one of the all-time greats, demolished Pole Urszula Radwanska 6-2, 6-1.

But the four-time champion here, usually a slow starter at Grand Slams, had her right thigh heavily strapped, although it appeared to be precautionary with no sign that she was hampered.

Williams broke Radwanska twice in the first set and three times in the second on her way to a comfortable victory that will make her rivals sit up and take notice.

Sister Venus, the sixth seed, makes her entrance later on Tuesday against Czech Lucie Safarova.

On a blustery but dry day, with organisers trying to clear a backlog of matches unable to finish due to rain on Monday, Serbian glamour girl and 20th seed Ana Ivanovic also progressed.

The former world number one overcame some late serving jitters to beat American Shenay Perry 6-2, 6-3 as she struggles to get her career back on track.

Despite the late lapse, Ivanovic was happy with her form.

"Yeah, it was very good," she said. "I was pleased with the way I played and I'm very happy to have a victory because she had a lot of matches already and she's a dangerous opponent.

Beaten in the final here by Russian Maria Sharapova in 2008, the 22-year-old is looking to put a disappointing 2009 behind her, having battled injuries and indifferent form.

She has slipped down the rankings to be outside the top 20 for the first time in five years.

Other women staying alive included Australian 13th seed Samantha Stosur, who struggled past Chinese qualifier Han Xinyun in three sets, French 11th seed Marion Bartoli and 26th seed Aravane Rezai, who beat India's Sania Mirza.

Davydenko, known as 'Mr Invisible' for having such a low public profile, was the first top 10 man into the second round Tuesday, dropping just four games in his 6-1, 6-0, 6-3 demolition of Germany's Dieter Kindlmann.

Having won the ATP World Tour Masters in London at the end of last year and then beating Rafael Nadal in the final of the Qatar Open this month, he is seen as a strong contender here.

"I know I can win. Mostly before I losing against these top guys. But now I can beat everyone. It's good feeling," said the Russian.

Davydenko is scheduled to meet Roger Federer in the quarter-finals with the Swiss great getting his tournament underway Tuesday against Russia's Igor Andreev.

Third seed Novak Djokovic takes on Spain's Daniel Gimeno-Traver later in the day.

Other top names going through were French 12th seed Gael Monfils, who wrapped his rain-delayed match against Australian Matthew Ebden 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.

Spanish ninth seed Fernando Verdasco was another staying in the hunt after a tough four set encounter with Australian Carsten Ball, winning 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/1), 7-5, 6-2.

But there was heartache for veteran Frenchman Fabrice Santoro -- the first player to participate in 70 Grand Slam tournaments in four decades -- who fell to 14th seeded Croat Marin Cilic 7-5, 7-5, 6-3.

AFP