American tennis fans received hope on Wednesday of possibly having a Top 25 women’s player after the Williams sisters retire. Not only the resurgent No. 25 Venus Williams advanced on the day, but teenage American Madison Keys defeated No. 30 seed Tamira Paszek 6-2, 6-1 to move into the third round at the Australian Open, and secure a first-time spot in the Top 100 rankings.
“Best hope I’ve seen for U.S. since Williams,” former No. 1 American Lindsay Davenport tweeted after the match.
Keys won her first WTA-level match at age 14, but over the last two years has settled into a slow rise on the USTA Pro Circuit and low-level international events. The elder Williams advanced by defeating France’s Alize Cornet 6-3, 6-3.
China’s Zheng Jie pulled off perhaps the largest upset of the day — only perhaps, because it was only a matter of time before Top 10er Sam Stosur got tight in front of her home audience. Jie defeated the No. 9-seeded Stosur 6-4, 1-6, 7-5 after Stosur twice served for the match, and double-faulted on match point for good measure.
“It was a bit of a choke,” Stosur said. “Obviously it’s a hard one to take when you get yourself into a winning position and you lose five games straight.”
Other upsets were Russian Valeria Savinykh topping No. 15 Dominika Cibulkova 7-6(6), 6-4, and Belgian Kirsten Flipkens rolling over No. 23 Klara Zakopalova 6-1, 6-0.
No. 2 seed Maria Sharapova was again ruthless in her second round match, baking two bagels in blowing out Japanese opponent 6-0, 6-0.
“I’ve been playing really aggressive and doing the right things,” said Sharapova, yet to drop a game in two matches, and lining-up a third-round meeting against Venus Williams. “It’s not easy to be up so much because you can have a few letdowns. You just have to try to concentrate. My job is to make it as easy as possible.”
Three other Top 10 seeds moved into the second round on the day as No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska defeated Romanian Irina Begu 6-3, 6-3; No. 5 Angelique Kerber, next up for the American Keys, eased past Czech Lucie Hradecka 6-3, 6-1; and No. 6 Li Na defeated Belarus’ Olga Govortsova 6-2, 7-5.
“I can play even better,” said Radwanska, who extended her match winning streak to 11. “I didn’t really expect I could win that many matches in a row, and hopefully I can keep going.”
Also into the third round were seeds No. 11 Marion Bartoli, No. 13 Ana Ivanovic who struggled past Taiwan’s Chan Yung-Jan in three, No. 18 Julia “Gorgeous” Goerges, No. 19 Ekaterina Makarova, No. 22 Jelena Jankovic who came from a set down to beat Portugal’s Maria Joao Koehler, and No. 27 Sorana Cirstea who likewise came back to defeat Czech Kristyna Pliskova.
On the men’s side, top-seeded Novak Djokovic was the picture of conserving energy for the marathon that is a two-week Grand Slam on Wednesday, pasting young American Ryan Harrison 6-1, 6-2, 6-3.
“I tried to focus from the start,” Djokovic said. “Obviously, I knew he had nothing to lose, he’s going to come out and hit big serves. Pity for him, I don’t think he played his best.”
Other Top 10 seeds in action Wednesday were No. 4 David Ferrer sending home American Tim Smyczek in four sets, No. 5 Tomas Berdych easing past France’s Guillaume Rufin, No. 8 Janko Tipsarevic almost blowing a two-set lead in defeating Slovak Lukas Lacko 7-5 in the fifth, and No. 10 Nicolas Almagro rolling over fellow Spaniard Daniel Gimeno-Traver.
Seeds also moving into the second round were No. 15 Stanislas Wawrinka, No. 16 Kei Nishikori, No. 20 Sam Querrey topping fellow American Brian Baker who retired in the second set with a knee injury, No. 22 Fernando “Hot Sauce” Verdasco who spanked Xavier “X-Man” Malisse, No. 24 Jerzy Janowicz who came from two sets down to beat India’s Somdev Devvarman, No. 26 Jurgen “Tuna” Melzer over Spain’s Roberto Bautista in five, No. 28 Marcos Baghdatis, No. 31 Radek “The Worm” Stepanek easily dismissing Feliciano “F-Lo” Lopez, and No. 32 Julien “United Colors of” Benneteau.
“Yeah, he’s the last person that deserves anything like that with his five or six surgeries already,” said Querrey of Baker, who will reportedly be out 4-5 months with a torn meniscus.
Janowicz had a Sportscenter-worthy meltdown over some line calls against Devvarman, screaming at the chair umpire and halting play on more that one occasion.
“How many times? How many times?” Janowicz screamed at the top of his lungs after what looked on the replay like a poor line call. “I’m begging you!”
“I was just worried about his voice,” his opponent Devvarman said. “I mean, the guy was yelling at the top of his lungs and I was like, ‘Dude, just calm down.’”
No. 23 Mikhail Youzhny was the only seed to go down on Wednesday, defeated in five sets by unheralded fellow Russian Evgeny Donskoy.
Matches to look for Thursday in Oz include (1) Victoria Azarenka vs. Greek veteran Eleni Daniili-don’t, (3) Serena Williams vs. Spanish sacrifice Garbine Muguruza, Aussie Bernard Tomic “The Tank Engine” vs. German Daniel Brands, (2) Roger Federer vs. Nikolay Davydenko, Brit comer Laura Robson vs. (8) Petra Kvitova, Yen-Hsun Lu vs. Gael “Force” Monfils, (26) Su-Wei Hsieh vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova, and (14) Gilles Simon vs. Jesse “Air Canada” Levine.
TENNIS-X NEWS, NOTES, QUOTES AND BARBS
Roger Federer has 17 wins over Nikolay Davydenko. Davydenko has just one win in his last 17 matches against Top 10 players…Hard luck case Brian Baker will need right knee surgery and will be out four months after tearing his lateral meniscus today against Sam Querrey…Want some streaks? We got them: Serena Williams has won 17 straight matches…Ryan Harrison has lost 16 straight matches to Top 10 players…Novak Djokovic has won 17 straight at the Australian Open…Andy Murray has won his last 8 Grand Slam matches…Venus Williams has won 7 straight matches…Aggie Radwasnka is on an 11-match win streak, winning all 22 sets…Lukas Lacko has lost 13 straight matches to Top 10ers…Bernard Tomic has won all 9 matches this year…And after leading 5-2 in the third set against Zheng Jie, Sam Stosur is on a 5-game losing streak…Who will have a better career, Madison Keys or Donna Vekic?…Serena Williams and Venus are still scheduled for doubles later Thursday, so maybe the right ankle is OK. Then again maybe not…Andy Murray’s worst Grand Slam loss by ranking was to No. 91 Arnuad Clement, today he’ll face No. 100 Joao Sousa…For the second straight year no Australian women reached the third round at the Australian Open…After the first round Laura Robson led all women with 11 aces…Was that Grigor Dimitrov watching girlfriend Maria Sharapova today from the stands? Sharapova became just the second female in the Open Era to win consecutive Grand Slam matches 60, 60 after Wendy Turnbull did it in 1985 at the Australian Open. Looks like Maria is getting the better end of the Dimitrov deal…All four Serbs won today including Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic who will meet on Friday…Sam Stosur wasn’t the only choker today, Ksenia Pervak led Heather Watson by a set and 6-3 with 3 match points in the second set breaker before folding up like a lawn chair…Novak Djokovic won’t have to worry about the heat tomorrow cause he ain’t playing. Lucky dog. Temperatures are expected into the 100s tomorrow in Melbourne…Svetlana Kuznetsova says retirement is not even on radar as she approaches the latter end of her career, and a recent recovery from a knee injury: “I feel like I have so much more to do in tennis. I will have time to stay at home after my career. I have no reasons to stop. [Anastasia] Myskina stopped because of her baby and the injury. [Elena] Dementieva stopped because she decided it was time. My time is not yet.”…ATP executive chairman and president Brad Drewett disclosed that he has ALS/Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and the ATP will begin a search for his successor: “It has been a privilege to serve as executive chairman and president of the ATP, an organization that I’ve been a part of for more than 35 years since I became a professional tennis player,” said the 54-year-old Aussie. “I hold the ATP very close to my heart, and it’s with sadness that I make the decision to enter this transition period due to my ill-health.”…Trying to see if Andy Murray has a pulse, the press chaffed the Brit by suggesting me might be too relaxed coming into Melbourne: “I didn’t at any stage say I was ‘very relaxed.’ I feel more relaxed than I have done the week before a Slam in the past, that’s going to be natural.” — take it easy man, relax…Roger Federer is skipping Switzerland’s Davis Cup match against the defending champion Czech Republic following the Aussie Open…Janko Tipsarevic says his TV show host wife has banned him from getting any more tats on his arm…Jessie Levine talking about switching from representing the U.S. to playing Davis Cup for Canada: “When I first did it I had my helmet on ready to take some hits, but to be honest it’s been more positive than negative. They (the players) gave me s**t about it and my new nickname is ‘Air Canada.’ The guys understand why and they know I was born there and lived there and it’s not like I just picked a country to go play.”…Brit comer Laura Robson easily brushed aside American already-came Melanie Oudin in the first round in Oz…Bernard “The Tank Engine” Tomic: “I have changed so much and it’s made me become a better person off court and a better player on court.”…Kimiko Date-Krumm on her secrets to longevity after becoming the oldest player to win a Grand Slam match at the 2013 Aussie Open at the age of 42: “I just eat a lot, I sleep a lot. Because always after the match or after the practice I’m tired, so I need time to recover a lot. So I sleep a lot, I eat healthy foods, I drink a lot. It’s a simple life. That’s it. Nothing special.”…Hennes & Mauritz AB, the Swedish fashion retailer, said it has signed a long-term partnership with Tomas Berdych, who will wear H&M clothing on and off court and help develop a tennis collection…Caroline Wozniacki revisiting the flap over her Serena Williams impersonation: “It’s been done a million times before by different players. I would never have done it if I didn’t know Serena well. Obviously I know Serena very well. She’s a funny girl, and I knew she would take it with a smile and wouldn’t have anything against it. Obviously people don’t have the same mind-set as we do and sometimes people maybe think more of it. You just need to think an extra time next time when you do something. There is nothing really in that that I saw as racist or anything, so obviously I think it’s a pity you can’t just have a bit of fun.”…Rafael Nadal is set to compete at the Brasil Open 2013 starting Feb. 11, making his first tour appearance since Wimbledon of last year after a knee injury.
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