DOHA, QATAR - Top-seeded Rafael Nadal and reigning champion Roger Federer were easy second-round winners Wednesday at the season-opening $1.024 million Qatar Open.
The former world No. 1 Nadal blew past German qualifier Denis Gremelmayr 6-2, 6-2 in an hour-and-a-half on the hardcourts at Khalifa International Tennis Complex.
Up next for the reigning French Open champion and 2010 Doha runner-up Nadal will be seventh-seeded Russian Mikhail Youzhny, who beat 6-foot-10 Croat Ivo Karlovic 6-2, 6-7 (3-7), 6-3 on Day 3 here.
The second-seeded former No. 1 Federer, meanwhile, handled Slovenian qualifier Grega Zemlja 6-2, 6-3 amid windy conditions in one hour. The iconic Federer has now won his last 19 matches, dating back to the latter stages of last season.
The 16-time Grand Slam champion and three-time Doha titlist Federer closed out 2011 as the hottest player in the world, as he won his last 17 matches on his way to three straight titles, including the prestigious ATP World Tour Finals.
Third-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga moved into the quarterfinals with a 7-6 (10-8), 6-3 victory over Italian Flavio Cipolla. The French Tsonga will face Spaniard Albert Ramos in the round of eight after Ramos received a walkover into the quarters when his scheduled opponent, sixth-seeded Russian Alex Bogomolov Jr., pulled out of the draw.
In other second-round action involving seeds, No. 5 Viktor Troicki of Serbia stopped German qualifier Matthias Bachinger 7-6 (8-6), 6-1 and a No. 8 Seppi dismissed Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 7-5, 6-3.
Serena wins, then withdraws
BRISBANE, Australia - Serena Williams' preparations for the upcoming Australian Open took a hit on Wednesday when the former world No. 1 star won a second-round match, but then withdrew from the Brisbane International tennis event because of an ankle injury.
A fourth-seeded Williams got past Serbian Bojana Jovanovski in straight sets, 6-2, 6-4, but injured her left ankle in the process at Queensland Tennis Centre.
The 13-time Grand Slam champion Williams, playing in her first tournament since losing to Samantha Stosur in September's U.S. Open final, was serving for the match at 6-2, 5-3 against Jovanovski on Wednesday when she twisted the ankle and fell hard to the court.
The five-time Aussie Open champ laid near the baseline for several minutes while receiving medical attention.
After having her ankle wrapped, Williams returned to action, only to have her serve broken, but would then prevail in the following game.
She then withdrew from Brisbane later Wednesday, saying "I have a left ankle sprain (and) that I probably shouldn't play on."
"I'm going to take a couple of days off -- not too many -- and see how I feel," Williams said in a statement. "I'm still hopeful of playing the Australian Open."
The Aussie Open will commence January 16 in Melbourne.
Williams' scheduled quarterfinal opponent in Brisbane, Slovakian Daniela Hantuchova, received a walkover into the semis.
Meanwhile, Czech left-hander Iveta Benesova took down the local favourite and top seed here, the U.S. Open champion Stosur, 6-4, 6-2.
In other second-round action, sixth-seeded former world No. 1 Serb Jelena Jankovic cruised to a 6-3, 6-2 win over Russian qualifier Nina Bratchikova and Estonia's Kaia Kanepi upset seventh-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia 6-0, 6-3.
Murray reaches Brisbane quarters
BRISBANE, Australia - Top seed Andy Murray was tested before reaching the quarterfinals at the 2012 season-opening Brisbane International tennis event.
The world No. 4 and 2011 Australian Open runner-up Murray dropped the first set against left-hander Gilles Muller of Luxembourg on Wednesday before prevailing for a 4-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-0 victory in just over two hours on the hardcourts at Queensland Tennis Centre.
Murray will face former Aussie Open runner-up Marcos Baghdatis in a quarterfinal here on Friday. The Cypriot Baghdatis took out fifth-seeded Japanese Kei Nishikori 6-3, 6-4 on Day 4.
Second-seeded Gilles Simon avoided an upset with a 6-3, 7-5 victory over Aussie wild card James Duckworth. Simon will meet Colombian Santiago Giraldo in a quarter here on Thursday. Santiago stopped German Philipp Petzschner 6-4, 6-4.
Three other seeds reached the round of eight, as No. 3 Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine outlasted Russian qualifier Igor Andreev 6-7 (3-7), 7-6 (11-9), 6-2, No. 6 Czech Radek Stepanek beat Finn Jarkko Nieminen 7-6 (7-3), 6-2, and No. 8 Aussie favourite Bernard Tomic trounced Japanese qualifier Tatsuma Ito 6-1, 6-2. The tour veteran Stepanek titled here in 2009.
Dolgopolov and Stepanek will square off here on Thursday.
Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin received a walkover into the quarterfinals when his scheduled second-round opponent, oft-injured German Tommy Haas, withdrew from the tournament.
Lisicki survives test from Barthel
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Top-seeded Sabine Lisicki survived for a three-set win Wednesday over fellow German Mona Barthel in the second round at the season-opening ASB Classic.
Lisicki needed almost 2 1/2 hours to hold off Barthel in 7-6 (7-3), 3-6, 6-3 fashion on the hardcourts at ASB Tennis Centre.
Barthel saved 16-of-23 break points in the rain-delayed match, but Lisicki moved on to face another fellow German, Angelique Kerber, who upended No. 5 seed and compatriot Julia Goerges in straight sets, 6-2, 6-3.
Second-seeded Chinese Shuai Peng was also ousted in two sets, dropping a 6-4, 6-3 decision to Czech Lucie Hradecka.
Third-seeded Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova, meanwhile, cruised past American teenager Christina McHale 6-1, 6-1 and No. 4 seed Flavia Pennetta of Italy bested Brit Elena Baltacha 6-4, 6-2. Pennetta was a finalist here two years ago.
In other action involving seeds, Russian Elena Vesnina upset No. 6 Italian Roberta Vinci 6-3, 6-4, unseeded Italian Sara Errani erased No. 7 Belgian Yanina Wickmayer 4-6, 6-1, 6-1, and No. 8 Monica Niculescu of Romania was ousted by Chinese Zheng Jie 6-0, 6-2. Wickmayer was last year's Auckland runner-up to Hungarian Greta Arn and titled here in 2010 by beating Pennetta in the finale.