x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Nadal marches on in Australia

Defending champion Rafael Nadal secured his second straight-sets win to progress to the third round of the Australian Open.

Rafael Nadal needed just under two hours to see off Slovakia's Lukas Lacko.
Rafael Nadal needed just under two hours to see off Slovakia's Lukas Lacko.

Defending champion Rafael Nadal secured his second straight-sets win to progress to the third round of the Australian Open. The Spanish second seed needed one hour and 53 minutes to brush aside Slovakia's Lukas Lacko 6-2 6-2 6-2 on Rod Laver Arena. It was a far more convincing display from Nadal, who showed no signs of the early nerves from his first-round match against Peter Luczak. Instead, the left-hander raced out to a 5-0 lead in the first set and was hardly troubled thereafter by his 22-year-old opponent, who was playing a top-10 player for the first time in his career. "I think I played the match that I need to play," said Nadal. "I was playing and moving well in the beginning without mistakes and I had control of the ball. "I played more relaxed. The second round always is easier to play. I think I improved a little bit, but I can still play a little bit longer. It was a very good match." Nadal will meet a seed for the first time in the next round after Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber (27) defeated Wayne Odesnik 6-4 3-6 6-3 6-2. Fernando Gonzalez, the 2007 winner, and Gael Monfils both won for the second day running. Their first-round matches were postponed to yesterday after rain on the opening day, but neither showed any ill-effects. Eleventh seed Gonzalez fired 51 winners as he beat Turkey's Marsel Ilhan 6-3 6-4 7-5, while Monfils (12) brushed aside 224th-ranked Croatian Antonio Veic 6-4 6-4 6-4. Monfils will next play 6ft 9in American John Isner after he ended Irish qualifier Louk Sorensen's dream run 6-3 7-6 (7/4) 7-5. Sorensen was playing in his first grand slam and became the first Irishman to win a match at a major in the Open era when he beat Yen-Hsun Lu on Tuesday. The only seed to fall during the day session was Tomas Berdych (21), who lost in straight sets to Evgeny Korolev 6-4 6-4 7-5.

Meanwhile, Andy Roddick admitted he was wrong in his clash with the chair umpire over his ruling on a match point after he marched into the third round at the Australian Open today. The straight-shooting American finished his 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 win over Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci by arguing with umpire Fergus Murphy over a Hawk Eye video review decision which went against him on the first of his two match points. The video review ruled that a Bellucci volley had fractionally clipped the line saving the first match point, but Roddick contended that he was not allowed to play the shot by an out-call from a line judge.

Even when he won the next point to clinch victory, the seventh seed continued haranguing the umpire as he walked to the net to shake hands with the 35th-ranked Bellucci. "There was just a disagreement about a rule on a continuation of a call," Roddick said. "To be fair, I didn't come in here (press conference) until I watched the video of it. I was more wrong than I thought I was out on court. "That being said, it was very close. To take away a match point at that juncture in a match, it's a big call."

Roddick said his beef was that the out-call came after he had let the ball pass. "I thought I was going to be a hundred per cent right. It's definitely closer than I felt it was while I was on court." Roddick added that it was part of his nature to challenge what he feels is not right. "I don't do it for entertainment. I do it because I strongly believe what I feel," he said. "That's not just on the court. I think if I believe in something strongly enough, I'm pretty outspoken about it."

But despite his initial rush of blood, Roddick said the Hawk Eye adjudication technology was fair. "It definitely puts less pressure on them (umpires) as far as having to stick your neck out there," he said. "But I'm still a fan of Hawk Eye because there's always going to be some judgment calls. "That's like my match today, where they have a split second to make a very important call." Apart from the late controversy, Roddick was satisfied with his work against the Brazilian left-hander.

"I felt good out there today. With him it's a lot of just trying to keep the ball out of his hitting zones because he hits pretty big," he said. "Keeping the ball on the backhand side, which is a little trickier, because he's a lefty. "It was just a matter of kind of getting the ins and outs of the points. I thought I did a pretty good job of that." The American was always in control and broke the Brazilian's service four times, while only conceding one break on his own serve.

2nd round Fernando Gonzalez (CHI x11) bt Marsel Ilhan (TUR) 6-3, 6-4, 7-5 Andy Roddick (USA x7) bt Thomaz Bellucci (BRA) 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 Evgeny Korolev (KAZ) bt Tomas Berdych (CZE x21) 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 Rafael Nadal (ESP x2) bt Lukas Lacko (SVK) 6-2, 6-2, 6-2