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Del Potro crashed out while Serena advances to 4th round with record win

AFP
Published Jan 17, 2014, 1:02 pm IST
Updated Mar 19, 2019, 6:46 am IST
Juan Martin del Potro lost 4-6, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, 7-5 in 2nd round as Serena advances to 4th round of Aussie Open.

Melbourne: Juan Martin del Potro promised to keep working for an elusive second Grand Slam title after yet another chance slipped through his fingers at the Australian Open.

Expectations are habitually high for the towering world number five and optimism rose anew when he thumped Bernard Tomic in last week's Sydney International final.

 

But the 2009 US Open champion struggled in Melbourne and he was taken to four sets by qualifier Rhyne Williams in the first round, before crashing out to Spain's Roberto Agut Bautista in the second.

It was another disappointment for the 25-year-old, who has reached just one Grand Slam semi-final, last year at Wimbledon, since stunning Roger Federer to win his lone major title five years ago.

But despite going out to Bautista, the world number 62, the six foot six (1.98m) Argentine said he would use the 4-6, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, 7-5 as a learning experience.

 

"I need to keep working. I already won the tournament last week, and that give me confidence to improve my game," said early Friday.

"But this kind of match also help me to learn something, and I will try to take my positive things about this match and change the negative to improve my game."

He added that he wasn't the only top-rated player to lose in the early rounds of a Grand Slam, after Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer went out in the first and second rounds at Wimbledon last year.

"I think sometimes the favourites lose very early in a Grand Slam, like Federer in Wimbledon or Rafa, and then other ones in the US Open. Here it's my turn to get out very early in the tournament," he said.

 

"But the season just started. I will try to be positive for the rest of the year."

Serena Williams sets Australian mark with 3rd-round win

Serena Williams sets Australian mark with 3rd-round win

Melbourne: Five-time champion Serena Williams has now won more matches at the Australian Open than any other woman, notching career win No. 61 on Friday as she advanced to the fourth round with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Daniela Hantuchova.

On another scorching day at Melbourne Park, Williams converted her fourth match point on No. 31-seeded Hantuchova's serve to finish it off in 1 hour, 20 minutes, keeping her time on court to a minimum during the heat wave. She has only dropped 12 games in three straight-set wins this week.

 

It was Williams' 24th consecutive win on the tour back to August, and improved her career record to 61-8 at the Australian Open.

The No. 1-ranked Williams equaled Margaret Court's Australian Open mark of 60 wins with her second-round victory, and on Friday matched Lindsay Davenport's record of 69 main-draw matches here in the Open era.

That means she'll set another record just by showing up on Sunday, against the winner of the night match between 2011 U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur and former No. 1-ranked Ana Ivanovic.

The temperature hit 39 Celsius (102 Fahrenheit) during Williams' match and was expected to climb to 44 C (111 F) later Friday, with match suspensions a possibility on outer courts for the second consecutive day.

 

"It was a tough match ... it's definitely hot, but you have to be ready to play," she said. "And then you have to prepare yourself mentally, too."

Seven of Williams' nine victories over Hantuchova have come at Grand Slam events - Hantuchova's only win was here in the third round in 2006.

Rod Laver Arena was about three-quarters full for the match, though it was a quiet crowd - people seemed to be expending more energy fanning themselves with programs and newspapers than applauding points on the court.

There were a few shouts of encouragement when Williams broke early in the second set, but the crowd grew more vocal when Hantuchova broke back in the sixth game to make it 3-all.

 

No. 9 Angelique Kerber advanced earlier with a 6-3, 6-4 win over American Alison Riske, and said her main aim had been to "get off the court before it became really hot." Kerber will next play No. 28 Flavia Pennetta, who advanced 6-1, 7-5 over Mona Barthel of Germany.

In an early men's result, Florian Mayer beat No. 20 Jerzy Janowicz 7-5, 6-2, 6-2.

Matches on outer courts were suspended for four hours on Thursday afternoon when the Extreme Heat Policy was invoked for the first time in the tournament. Lightning and rain caused further delays later in the evening. Maria Sharapova advanced after playing 3 ? hours in the blazing sun, before the roof was closed on Rod Laver Arena.

 

Two-time defending champion Victoria Azarenka won her night match indoors. The loaded top half of the men's draw lost a contender when No. 5 Juan Martin del Petro lost a second-round match that ended at 1:20 a.m. Friday. Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Roger Federer all progressed earlier on day four.

Gritty Li survives scare to stay alive

Gritty Li survives scare to stay alive

Melbourne: Never-say-die Li Na saved a match point before battling back and overcoming Czech Lucie Safarova in three gruelling sets as she scrapped her way into the Australian Open fourth round Friday.

 

The Chinese fourth seed, a finalist last year, rallied from a set down and through a tiebreak to win 1-6, 7-6 (7/2), 6-3 in a two-and-a-half hour marathon on another hot Melbourne day.

In doing so she avoided matching her earliest exit at the tournament since 2008, and set up a clash with Russian 22nd seed Ekaterina Makarova for a place in the quarter-finals.

But it was a narrow escape for Li who self-destructed in the first set and had to draw on all her experience to find a way past the 26th-seeded Czech, who was playing with her right thigh heavily strapped and her left shoulder taped.

 

"In the beginning she played very nice, very good and it was tough to find any rhythm," said the popular Li, who has more than 10 million fans on Chinese social media.

"I'm happy I was able to fight and win the match. I just tried to play at the baseline and move the ball around the court."

Playing in 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) heat, the Monte Carlo-based Safarova made the most of some early Li double faults to get a break in the first game then held for a 2-0 lead.

Li, using ice to cool down barely 10 minutes into the match, held her next serve to stay in touch but Safarova was unrelenting, pushing Li around and gaining another break when the Chinese star netted a forehand.Li, coached by Carlos Rodriguez, who used to mentor Belgian great Justine Henin, was struggling to find her range and making too many unforced errors.

 

Safarova held for a 5-1 lead and broke again to take the set in 27 minutes, with Li hitting just two winners and making 18 unforced errors in the set.

The left-hander comfortably held serve to open the second set and had a break point in the next, but Li rallied to stay alive.

She got her first glimmer of hope in the third game, when she earned a break point, but failed to capitalise and went 2-1 down.

The Chinese number one was under big pressure and faced two break points on her next serve, but dug deep to save both and it proved to be a turning point.

 

She promptly broke Safarova and then held to take a 3-2 lead, before the Czech prevailed in a long sixth game to break back.

Li was fighting to stay in the tournament and converted a break point as Safarova served for the match.

She clung on to her serve against a Safarova onslaught and saved a match point in the 12th to send it to a tiebreak, where she found a new lease of life to ensure a third set.

They exchanged breaks and it went to serve until the eighth game, when the Czech smashed a forehand into the net to put Li in front and she served for the match.

 

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