January 16, 2012
Nadal, Federer open with wins
By SPORTS NETWORK
MELBOURNE - Former champions Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer highlighted Monday's first-round winners at the first Grand Slam event of the year -- the Australian Open.
The second-seeded Nadal cruised past Ukrainian-born American qualifier Alex Kuznetsov 6-4, 6-1, 6-1 in 1 hour, 46 minutes, while a third-seeded Federer leveled Russian qualifier Alexander Kudryatsev 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 in 1 hour, 38 minutes for his 60th match win at Melbourne Park.
Nadal played with his right knee heavily taped on Monday.
"I was sitting on a chair in the hotel, I felt like a crack on the knee -- really strange," Nadal said. "I stand up. I felt the knee a little bit strange. I moved the leg like this two times to try to find the feeling. After the second time, the knee stays with an unbelievable pain completely straight. I have no movement on the knee."
"I wasn't 100% sure I would have a chance to play," Nadal added.
Nadal played Monday after an MRI exam showed no major damage in the knee.
"I started with a little bit of a scare at the beginning, and nervous because I was really disappointed yesterday," the Spaniard said. "But after the first 10 games -- I started to play with normal conditions.
"The best thing is I felt the knee very well. I really don't understand why happened everything, but I am really happy that today I was ready to play and I played a fantastic match."
A healthy Federer also played some fine tennis on Monday.
"No problem, I am happy to be 100% fit," said Federer, who pulled out of an event in Doha two weeks ago because of a back problem.
Both situated in the bottom half of the draw, Nadal and Federer could only meet in the semifinals next week. The 10-time major champion Nadal beat Federer in the 2009 Aussie finale, while Federer has won four Aussie crowns among his men's record 16 major titles.
The 30-year-old Federer is trying to become only the second man in the Open era (since 1968) to capture five Aussie titles.
Nadal's second-round opponent on Wednesday will be oft-inured former world No. 2 Tommy Haas of Germany, while Federer will encounter German Andreas Beck.
Seventh-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych and No. 8 American Mardy Fish were also among the Day 1 winners on Monday.
Berdych posted a 7-5, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 decision over Spain's Albert Ramos, popping seven aces and breaking Ramos' serve five times to move on, while Fish rolled to a 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 straight-set victory over Luxembourg's Gilles Muller. Muller reeled off nine aces in the match, but also committed 39 unforced errors and failed to break Fish's serve.
Fish will face Colombian Alejandro Falla in the round of 64.
Tenth-seeded Spaniard Nicolas Almagro overcame a first-set defeat to record a 1-6, 7-5, 6-3, 7-5 victory over Poland's Lukasz Kubot, while 11th-seeded Argentine slugger Juan Martin del Potro also battled back from an early setback to move on, posting a 2-6, 6-1, 7-5, 6-4 decision over France's Adrian Mannarino. Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov, the 13th seed here, downed Aussie Greg Jones 1-6, 4-6, 6-1, 6-1, 6-2.
Up next for the former U.S. Open champion del Potro will be Slovenian Blaz Kavcic.
Towering American John Isner, seeded 16th, handled Aussie Benjamin Mitchell 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (7-1); 18th-seeded Spaniard Feliciano Lopez dismissed Leonardo Mayer of Argentina 7-6 (7-5), 6-3, 7-6 (7-2); 21st-seeded Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka waltzed past France's Benoit Paire 6-1, 6-1, 7-5; and rising Aussie youngster Bernard Tomic fought back to dismiss 22nd-seeded Spaniard Fernando Verdasco 4-6, 6-7 (3-7), 6-4, 6-2, 7-5.
The 19-year-old Tomic showed why he is one of the up-and-coming stars on tour in his Day 1 comeback. Last year, he became the youngest man in 25 years to reach the quarterfinals at Wimbledon.
"Anything's possible if you keep trying," Tomic said. "Same thing happened at Wimbledon when I was in the second round. I was losing two sets to love down and made the quarters.
"Anything is possible. Can't always give up. You can learn about yourself, and, yeah, how in the future you can play."
German Philipp Kohlschreiber took out 25th-seeded Argentine Juan Monaco 7-5, 4-6, 6-3, 6-7 (4-7), 6-0; Slovak Lukas Lacko knocked out 28th-seeded Croat Ivan Ljubicic 3-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4; Kevin Anderson of South Africa, the 30th seed, rolled past Denmark's Frederik Nielsen 6-1, 6-2, 6-4; and Austria's Jurgen Melzer, the 31st seed, was driven out of the tournament by 6-foot-10 Croat Ivo Karlovic 7-6 (7-3), 7-5, 6-3.
Meanwhile, American Sam Querrey, on the mend from an elbow injury, swatted South African Kenny De Schepper 6-3, 6-2, 6-2, former Wimbledon runner-up David Nalbandian of Argentina was leading Jarkko Nieminen 6-4, 4-2 when the Finnish veteran retired, and former Aussie Open runner-up Marcos Baghdatis downed German Benjamin Becker 6-1, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2. Baghdatis reached the final here back in 2006. Nieminen was fresh off his title in Sydney last week.
Nalbandian will clash with the 6-foot-9 Isner on Wednesday, while Querrey will battle the rising Tomic.
Italy's Flavio Cipolla outlasted former top-five Russian star Nikolay Davydenko 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 6-2, 6-1, the aforementioned Haas got past American Denis Kudla 7-6 (7-5), 3-6, 6-0, 7-5, and American Donald Young earned a 6-1, 6-2, 4-6, 1-6, 6-2 victory over German Peter Gojowczyk.
The first round is scheduled to conclude here on Tuesday, with 16 more seeds seeing action, including world No. 1 reigning Aussie Open champ Novak Djokovic and 2010 and 2011 Melbourne runner-up Andy Murray.
Djokovic, who also captured last year's Wimbledon and U.S., Open titles, will face Italian Paolo Lorenzi on Day 2, while the fourth-seeded three-time Grand Slam runner-up Murray will battle promising American Ryan Harrison.
The powerful Djokovic straight-seeded Murray in last year's Aussie finale to secure his second title here in four years.
Some other seeds slated for Tuesday play are No. 5 Spaniard David Ferrer, who titled in Auckland last week, No. 6 Frenchman Jo-Wilified Tsonga, No. 9 Serb Janko Tipsarevic, and No. 15 American Andy Roddick, who is a four-time Aussie Open semifinalist. The former world No. 1 and former U.S. Open champion Roddick will meet big-serving Dutchman Robin Haase.
Fading Aussie hero Lleyton Hewitt will also be among the Day 2 combatants in Melbourne, as the two-time major champ will face German Cedrik-Marcel Stebe. Hewitt was the 2005 Aussie runner-up.