Two Australian Open favorites took to the court Wednesday in Melbourne with two polar opposite results. World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki brutalized American Vania King 6-1, 6-0 in second-round play, but No. 4 seed Venus Williams looked shaky in a 6-7(6), 6-0, 6-4 comeback win over unheralded Czech Sandra Zahlavova.
Appearing in an “illusion” dress of her own design that Tennis-X message board posters deigned “heinous,” the elder Williams sister fought through a groin pull near the end of the first set with a scowl on her face and a limp to her walk to win in warrior style.
“I wasn’t very happy, to say the least,” Venus said. “With an injury like that you just don’t know what to expect. So I was just really trying to get tough…I think this is probably the most acute injury that I’ve ever had. But I just wanted to stay on the court and try to survive and see if I could feel better another day.”
Venus had never in her career retired from a Grand Slam match, and said she wasn’t about to start in 2011.
“I think this being a major definitely has a lot to do with me staying on the court,” Venus said. “I really haven’t retired from a match in any tournament in quite a long time. I think that’s a testament to how I feel when I step on the court. I’m there to stay…Had it not been a major, would have definitely been harder to continue.”
The injured Williams will be tested in the next round by No. 30 seed and rising German star Andrea Petkovic.
Wozniacki lost only one game to an opponent who stretched her to three sets last year, and said she is confident despite her winless pre-Aussie Open preparation.
“I was actually very confident. I was feeling very good,” Wozniacki said. “Exhibitions, I just wanted to try a few things out, see how things were working. I lost to [Dominika] Cibulkova [at a WTA event], but that’s what happens sometimes. I lost last year in Sydney first round as well. Coming in from Hong Kong, play Sydney, it’s a bit difficult. I felt I’ve been practicing really well, really hard. I’ve been feeling confident and comfortable on the court. I had some good practices after Sydney and feeling good here.”
Wozniacki will face Cibulkova again, the No. 29 seed who defeated Italian Alberta Brianti on Wednesday in three sets, in the next round.
In other Top 10-seeded action, No. 6 Francesca Schiavone survived Canadian Rebecca Marino 9-7 in the third, No. 8 Victoria Azarenka beat Czech Andrea Hlavackova, and No. 9 Li Na topped Russian Evgeniya Rodina, both in straights. No. 11 Justine Henin and No. 14 Maria Sharapova were also straight-set winners.
On the upset tip Russian qualifier Vesna Manasieva outlasted No. 15 Marion Bartoli 6-0 in the third, German Julia “Gorgeous” Goerges ousted No. 20 Kaia Kanepi in three, Latvian Anastasija Sevastova surprised No. 21 Yanina Wickmayer, and Romanian Monica Niculescu defeated No. 32 Tsvetana Pironkova.
Sharapova next plays Georges, who wears her line of clothes.
“Yeah, she wears my collection,” Sharapova said. “I played her last year in Strasbourg on clay. She’s playing really well. I mean, she won her first tournament I believe last year. Yeah, she has a big first serve and she’s a big hitter. You know, work on a few things tomorrow to get ready for that.”
Former No. 1 Svetlana Kuznetsova put down qualifier and former junior world No. 1 Arantxa Rus in straights, while Australia lost another hope when wildcard Jelena Dokic lost in straights to Czech Barbora Zahlavova Strycova.
“Everything the last couple days happened quickly and I was trying to play a little bit differently that what I did in the first two tournaments,” said Dokic, possibly in dire need of a coach and some direction. “I felt like when it was 4-all or 5-all or 6-5, I kind of felt like I wasn’t sure what to do. I think that’s just match play.”
Henin will line-up Kuznetsova in the next round.
“It’s a tough third round, Kuznetsova, even she has been a little more in trouble in the last maybe year or two years,” Henin said. “I think she remains a great player, and physically she has a lot of qualities: big forehand, great serve.”
Matches of interest (slim pickings) on Thursday include (3) Kim Clijsters vs. Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro, (13) Nadia Petrova vs. Aussie Alicia Molik, (7) Jelena Jankovic vs. Shuai Peng, (26) Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez vs. Alize Cornet, and Anna Chakvetadze vs. (25) Petra Kvitova.
TENNIS-X NEWS, NOTES, QUOTES AND BARBS
Venus Williams has never retired in a Grand Slam match…Justine Henin has won 16 of 18 matches against Svetlana Kuznetsova…Andy Roddick has reached nine straight Australian Open third rounds…Rafael Nadal has not lost a game yet…Robin Haase led Rafael Nadal 2-1 in sets at Wimbledon last year. He’s into his first career Grand Slam third round…Janko Tipsarevic won a total of five points in that fifth set against Fernando Verdasco…Venus Williams is the only American woman left in the draw. 12 began…Rafael Nadal’s last two matches in Australia have ended in knee injuries…Qualifier Ryan Sweeting has not lost a set in four matches in Melbourne…Gilles Muller has more career match wins (5) at Melbourne than Robin Soderling (3)…Roger Federer is a perfect 166-0 when leading 2-0 in sets…Venus Williams’s last two events were Grand Slams…Fernando Verdasco saved three match points against Janko Tipsarevic…Bernard Tomic has never beaten a lefty…Gilles Simon and Roger Federer have gone the distance in all three of their matches…American Lauren Davis says she was scared to try Australian food in her first trip to Melbourne, sticking with American food…From tennis writer Charlie Bricker on the continuing drama of “The” Donald Young: “Has it really been seven years since IMG galvanized the full force of its public relations machinery in an effort to turn Donald Young into the next great American star? Where did the time go? More to the point, where has Young gone, except to the depths of the minor leagues and, now, back to another flirtation with the top 100. He’s 21 now and, after his Australian Open drew to a fast conclusion on Day 2, we’re still not sure how far he’s going to go, though if you had to put money on it, you wouldn’t bet top 50, despite Jim Courier’s claim that he is ‘without a doubt a top-50 player.’”…From Australia’s Post-Chronicle on the country’s woes in producing tour players: “Struggling former tennis superpower Australia is unlikely to claw itself out of its “black hole” unless administrators throw more money into grass-roots development rather than elite programs, according to former Fed Cup captain John Alexander. The country that produced grand slam titans Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall, now boasts only a single seed in both singles draws at the Australian Open, with women’s world number six Sam Stosur shouldering the burden of a nation’s hopes. Alexander, a former top 10 player in the mid-1970s, pins the country’s decline on the loss of thousands of backyard courts to development — and blames administrators for failing to provide new infrastructure. ‘It’s a numbers game…The loss of courts is commensurate with the decrease in the number of participants and which is also commensurate with the drop in the number of top players on the tour,’ Alexander told Reuters in an interview.”…Andy Murray on his brother Jamie’s bird hunting at the Australian Open: “He hit a baby sparrow when he was practicing his serve. I think he killed it. My mum told me about it when I woke up this morning. It was a pretty traumatic start to the day…”…Fox Business Network and the Tennis Channel will continue a joint promotional initiative through 2011, involving the four leading pro tennis events, according to MediaDailyNews. On weekdays during each Slam, the Tennis Channel will provide a one-minute recap of the previous day’s action, the “Court Report,” airing during FBN’s “Imus in the Morning” program. Each evening FBN will offer a “Fox Business Network Update” on that day’s movement in the stock market, as well as the latest business news, before the Tennis Channel begins its nightly coverage of the particular event…American Melanie Oudin debuted her new Wilson shoes in Melbourne. No word on whether they said “Believe” on them or not, as we couldn’t get a good look before she was ushered out of the tournament in the first round…U.S. women went 2-10 in the first round of the Australian Open, with only Venus left by the third round. The pool is not deep.
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