The battle of men’s former No. 1s on Thursday at the Australian Open hit anti-climax when No. 15 seed Andy Roddick retired trailing unseeded Lleyton Hewitt 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, re-aggravating a hamstring injury from the previous month.
“Yeah, hamstring tendon,” Roddick told the media afterwards. “So I could probably jog in place or jog fine, but it’s extension, getting anywhere above 60%, 70% extension is not really happening right now…I could probably hit standing still, you know, small steps and stuff. But it’s a matter of pushing anything really explosive.”
Roddick said Hewitt was getting the better of him in their baseline battles as it was.
“One, I was hitting the ball as well as I could from a compromised position and still felt like I was just hanging on,” Roddick said. “I don’t know that it would have been smart to do that for two more sets. And if somehow you pull a rabbit out of the hat, I don’t think you play in two days.”
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic led the Top 10 seeds all advancing on Thursday, defeating Colombia’s Santiago Giraldo 6-3, 6-2, 6-1.
“A win is a win, however it comes to you,” Djokovic said. “I try to not underestimate any opponents in early rounds. This is a Grand Slam, one of the four most prestigious tournaments in our sport, and everybody has a lot of motivation to perform their best, especially on the center court, on the big stage…Santiago came out early hitting the ball quite flat. But I knew that sooner or later he’s going to drop the rhythm and I just have to hang in there. I’ve gone a good job.”
Other Top 10 winners were (4) Andy Murray, (5) David Ferrer winning in five over American Ryan Sweeting, (6) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and (9) Janko Tipsarevic coming from a set down against Aussie James Duckworth.
Orchestrating upsets Thursday were Julien Benneteau over French countryman (12) Gilles Simon in five, Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin toppling (19) Viktor Troicki in five, Portugal’s Federico Gil defeating (26) Marcel Granollers in four, and French serve-and-volley machine Michael Llodra downing (32) Alex Bogomolov Jr. in five.
No. 24 Kei Nishikori pulled the great escape of the day, coming from two sets down to defeat heartbroken Aussie Matthew Ebden 3-6, 1-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-1.
On the women’s side No. 2 seed Petra Kvitova looked to be in trouble, down a break early in the third set against Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro before reigning-in her game for a 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 win.
“I was hectic, you know,” Kvitova said regarding her rash of unforced errors during the match. “It’s my game that I’m playing winners. The mistakes is my game, it’s part of my game. So I know that I will have some mistakes. But today was too many. It’s very tough to get back because she moved very well and she got, I mean, everything. Then I just try to get more shots and be in the rallies with her and playing smarter. It was the key.”
Other Top 10 seeds into the third round were (4) Maria Sharapova allowing American qualifier Jamie Hampton only one game, (7) Vera Zvonareva straight-setting Czech Lucie Hradecka, and (9) Marion Bartoli easily handling Jelena Dokic in straights.
Comeback player and No. 12 Serena Williams led the lower seeds, blitzing Czech Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 6-0, 6-4.
“She just started playing better and doing different things,” Williams said of the second set, adding there was no injury from her fall on the court during the match when she was wrong-footed. “It’s fine. Totally fine.”
Upset-makers on the day were American Vania King coming from a set down to defeat (15) Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Hungary’s Greta Arn toppling (17) Dominika Cibulkova 10-8 in the fifth, China’s Zheng Jie straight-setting (23) Roberta Vinci, Russian Ekaterina Makarova beating (25) Kaia Kanepi in straights, and Italian Sara Errani over (29) Nadia Petrova in straights.
Friday viewing highlights in Melbourne include (3) Roger Federer vs. “Dr.” Ivo Karlovic, (13) Alexandr Dolgopolov vs. Aussie sensation Bernard Tomic, (3) Victoria Azarenka vs. Hobart winner Mona Barthel, (1) Caroline Wozniacki vs. (31) Monica Niculescu, (16) John Isner vs. (18) Feliciano “F-Lo” Lopez, (11) Kim Clijsters vs. (20) Daniela Hantuchova, and American Christina McHale vs. (13) Jelena Jankovic.
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