x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Serena, Federer progress at Open

The world No 1 men's top seed is relieved to win after dropping a set in the first round since 2003 but women's defending champion Serena Williams has it easy.

Serena Williams hits a return against Poland's Urszula Radwanska during the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne.
Serena Williams hits a return against Poland's Urszula Radwanska during the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne.

First round matches at grand slams are normally easy pickings for Roger Federer. The Swiss player saves his best work for the slams as his haul of 15 titles demonstrates. Since the 2004 French Open he has made at least the semi-finals, and shocks rarely disturb the world No 1 at this stage of the proceedings. But Federer was given a genuine scare yesterday in his opening match at the Australian Open, and he had to come from behind to beat Russia's Igor Andreev 4-6, 6-2, 7-6, 6-0 to book his spot in the second round against Victor Hanescu of Romania. To put the surprise of Federer being in genuine trouble yesterday into context, you have to go back to the US Open in 2003 against Argentina's Jose Acasuso for the last time he dropped a set in the first round at one of the four majors. A single break in the ninth game was enough for Andreev to take the opening set, and while it looked as if it was back to business as usual in the second, which Federer took with two breaks, the third was a thriller. Each man was broken three times, and Andreev was left to rue three set points that he failed to take when serving for the set at 6-5. Instead Federer broke, took the tie-break and was never threatened again as he whitewashed his opponent in the fourth set. The three-time Australian Open champion acknowledged he had been really pushed by the world No 37. "It was a tough first round and I'm really, really relieved I'm through," he said. "It was a tough third set, I definitely got very lucky to get out of that one. That's the way it goes sometimes, all in all I'm very happy with my performance." Andreev was left to lament his wasted opportunity. "Today, the key point was the third set when I didn't use the set points," he said. "Then after that, maybe I went a little bit down in the fourth physically, mentally." Other than Federer being put under unexpected pressure, the major shock of the second day of the tournament was the exit of the No 8 seed, Robin Soderling. The Swede, who had reached the final of the Capitala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi, failed to produce that form as he frittered away a two-set lead and lost 5-7, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 to Spain's Marcel Granollers. "I didn't feel good at all," he said. "I don't know what happened I just didn't play well. I started terrible and finished terrible." The 2008 champion, Novak Djokovic, suffered an early wobble against his Spanish opponent Daniel Gimeno Traver before he booked his spot in the second round. The No 3 seed was in early trouble as he went a break down, but once the Serbian had broken back there was no stopping him and he went through to the second round in straight sets. Nikolay Davydenko made a confident start to the tournament. The sixth-seeded Russian made short work of Dieter Kindlmann 6-1, 6-0, 6-3, and it was a similar story for Jo-Wilfried Tsonga as the Frenchman, seeded 10th, beat Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. It was a big day for Ireland as Louk Sorensen became the first Irishman to win at a grand slam match when he defeated Taiwan's Lu Yen-Hsun 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, 6-1. "I'm feeling great," said the 25-year-old. "It's the biggest achievement of my career so far." In today's action, defending champion Rafael Nadal takes on the Slovakian Lukas Lacko in the second round, while the fifth seed, Andy Murray, faces Marc Giquel of France. The fourth seed, Juan Martin del Petro, plays the former world No 4, James Blake, in the pick of the day's action in the men's draw.

The world No 1, Serena Williams, maintained her remarkable unblemished record in the first round of grand slams with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Urszula Radwanska at the Australian Open yesterday. The defending champion, who has not lost an opening-round match in 41 major appearances, was never troubled as she won in 77 minutes against the 19-year-old Pole. "I was a little nervous because that [record] is always on the back of my mind," Williams said. "Records are meant to be broken so I'm like, 'I hope this record is not to be broken'. It's my personal record. This one means a lot to me. That's something that I want to keep up for my career." Williams was joined by her sister Venus, the sixth seed, in the next round after the 29-year-old beat the left-hander Lucie Safarova 6-2, 6-2. Ana Ivanovic, the beaten finalist in 2008, outclassed the qualifier Shenay Perry 6-2, 6-3 while her fellow Serbian and eighth seed, Jelena Jankovic, was even more impressive in casting aside Monica Niculescu 6-4, 6-0. Both players were given rousing support from the Serbian fans in the crowd, and Jankovic admitted it was a welcome boost. "I really love that support," she said. "It's amazing how many people come to support me, and as well the other players. I think this event, it's very patriotic." The 10th seed, Agnieszka Radwanska, made up for the disappointment of her sister Urszula's loss with a comprehensive 6-1, 6-0 victory over Tatjana Malek, while the 11th seed, Marion Bartoli, beat Rossana De Los Rios 6-4, 6-1. The pick of today's action sees the fifth-seeded Russian, Elena Dementieva, take on Justine Henin. It will be a major test for Henin, who won the title in Melbourne in 2004, in her first grand slam appearance since coming out of retirement. The second seed, Dinara Safina, is also in action, taking on Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, while the 15th-seed, Kim Clijsters, faces Tamarine Tanasugarn. @Email:gcaygill@thenational.ae Abu Dhabi Sports 2, from 4am

Also: Order of play

Highlights of the day