Monfils Bounces Baghdatis at Aussie Open

Posted on January 17, 2007

Unseeded Frenchman Gael "Force" Monfils found his mojo Wednesday at the Australian Open, rebounding from a disappointing 2006 season early with a 7-6(5), 6-2, 2-6, 6-0 win over No. 11 seed and defending Aussie Open runner-up Marcos Baghdatis.

Thailand's Danai Udomchoke provided the only other upset on the day, shocking former No. 1 and No. 24 seed Juan Carlos Ferrero (24), 7-6(0), 7-5, 4-6, 6-1 to move into the third round at a Grand Slam for the first time.

The three highest seeds in action didn't drop a set as world No. 1 Roger Federer eased past Swede Jonas Bjorkman, No. 6 Andy Roddick beat Frenchman Marc Gicquel, and No. 7 Tommy Robredo lost only seven games to Austrian Jurgen Melzer.

"I think I was pretty much in control," Federer said. "I knew if I kept my serve going it would make it tough for Jonas. It was a good match from my side. I knew if it ever got close he has the experience. You know you're in for a fight if it gets tough."

Other seeded winners on the day were (9) Mario "Baby Goran" Ancic (d. Garcia-Lopez in four), (14) Novak Djokovic (d. F.Lopez), (16) David Ferrer (d. T.Johansson in four), (18) Richard Gasquet (d. Delic), (20) Radek Stepanek (d. Dlouhy from two sets down), (22) Dominik "The Dominator" Hrbaty (d. Spadea in four), (25) Mikhail Youzhny (d. Y.-H.Lu), and (26) Marat Safin (d. Sela 6-0 in the fifth).

The marathon win for Safin over the No. 202-ranked Sela nets him a meeting in the third round against Roddick in a battle of former No. 1s.

Safin was serving at 5-6, 30-30 in the fourth set when play was halted to close the roof due to rain. When he returned, Safin won eight straight games to close out the match.

"If the rain doesn't come, I was lost," Safin said.

Unseeded Americans had mixed results, with Mardy Fish and Sam Querrey defeating Frenchmen Nicolas Mahut and Florent Serra respectively, and Zach Fleishman winning the first set but then dropping the next three to Aussie serving machine Wayne Arthurs. Fleishman had his hair dyed red, white, and blue for the match.

Seeds in action and other matches of interest on Thursday in Melbourne are (5) Blake vs. Kuznetsov in an all-American, (19) Hewitt vs. Dancevic, (2) Nadal vs. Kohlschreiber, (15) Murray vs. Fernando "Hot Sauce" Verdasco, (13) Berdych vs. Smeets, (8) Nalbandian vs. N.Lapentti, (12) Haas vs. Bozoljac, (28) Grosjean vs. Olivier "The Roach" Rochus, (3) Davydenko vs. Muller, (17) Nieminen vs. Chela, (10) Fernando "Gonzo" Gonzalez vs. Del Potro, Clement vs. Fabrice "The Magician" Santoro in an all-French, (21) Tursunov vs. Max "The Beast" Mirnyi, Zverev vs. Ginepri, and (31) Wawrinka vs. Capdeville.

"Verdasco has won against guys like Andy Roddick and he is a tough guy to play against," Murray said of his next opponent. "I know it's going to be difficult, my next match, but I feel like if I play like I did (on Tuesday) and a little bit better, then I've got a good chance of winning."