Australian Open: Sharapova, Federer survive scares
Melbourne, January 21
Twice Maria Sharapova faced match point on Wednesday, and twice she let rip with a forehand winner to keep her Australian Open chances alive.
The No. 2-ranked Sharapova had a narrow escape with a 6-1, 4-6, 7-5 second-round win over fellow Russian Alexandra Panova, a qualifier ranked No. 150.
Roger Federer dropped the first set, and asked for medical advice on his sore right pinkie finger, before beating Simone Bolelli 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 to reach the third round.
The No. 2 seeds didn’t get it entirely their way on day three.
Sharapova made 51 unforced errors as she went for the lines, but kept swinging hard and saved some of her best ground strokes for when she needed them.
Australian Open, Australian Open 2015, 2015 Australian Open, Maria Sharapova, Sharapova Boyfriend, Latest Sports News, Sports News, Sports Maria Sharapova showed her grit in a narrow escape Wednesday. (Source: Reuters)She faced match point twice in the 10th game of the third set, stepping into a return winner on a weak second serve and later ripping a forehand winner deep into the corner against Panova, who entered the Australian Open without a single match win at five previous majors.
“I’m just happy to get through – I was one point away twice today from being out of the tournament,” said Sharapova, who started the season by winning the Brisbane International title. “I was not playing my best tennis today. I think she played a pretty inspired match.”
Sharapova, who won the 2008 Australian Open and has five Grand Slam titles, struggled with her serve in the second and third sets as the match extended to 2 hours, 32 minutes in a temperatures topping 33 Celsius (91F).
Sharapova raised her intensity in the final set, screeching loudly as she fought to control rallies and pumping her clenched left fist as she prepared to receive. She is the only Grand Slam champion remaining in her half of the draw. She next plays No. 31 Zarina Diyas, who beat Anna Schmiedlova 3-6, 6-2, 8-6.
No. 7 Eugenie Bouchard, who reached the semifinals or better at three of the four majors in 2014, opened her night match with a wayward serve. The Wimbledon finalist settled quickly into rhythm, though, needing just 54 minutes to beat Kiki Bertens 6-0, 6-3.
No. 10 Ekaterina Makarova beat Roberta Vinci 6-2, 6-4, No. 21 Peng Shuai had a 6-1, 6-1 win over Magdalena Rybarikova, No. 22 Karolina Pliskova beat Oceane Dodin 7-5, 5-7, 6-4 and Carina Witthoeft defeated Christina McHale 6-3, 6-0.
Australian Open, Roger Federer, Tennis Roger Federer had to battle hard to win in four sets. (Source: Reuters)
Federer was bothered by pain in his right hand, and took a medical timeout after the first set, before recovering to beat No. 48 Bolelli.
“It felt like a bee stung me. I was like `This can’t be possible – I never had this pain before.’ It was disturbing me,” Federer, a four-time Australian Open champion, said. “I knew that to tape it wasn’t an option.” Even after the match, he couldn’t identify the cause of his pain.
Three-time finalist Andy Murray didn’t let the parochial crowds in Margaret Court Arena bother him as he beat Australian Marinko Matosevic 6-1, 6-3, 6-2, while No. 10 Grigor Dimitrov beat Lukas Lacko 6-3, 6-7 (10), 6-3, 6-3.
Australian Open, Andy Murray, Tennis Andy Murray dispatches Aussie Marinko Matosevic in straight sets. (Source: Reuters)
Matosevic’s first-round opponent, Alexander Kudryavtsev, accused boisterous Australian fans of behaving like “animals” after losing in five sets to the Melbourne resident.
After Wednesday’s match, Murray laughed as he said: “It was a fun atmosphere to play today. Even if not everyone was supporting me.”
Seventh-seeded Tomas Berdych advanced with a 7-6 (0), 6-2, 6-2 win over Austrian qualifier Jurgen Melzer, moving into the third round along with No. 10 Grigor Dimitrov, No. 14 Kevin Anderson and No. 24 Richard Gasquet.
Six of the men’s seeds were beaten, among them 2006 Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis’ 6-1, 6-4, 4-6, 6-0 win over No. 20 David Goffin and Australian teenager Nick Kyrgios’ win over No. 23 Ivo Karlovic in a four-set match featuring a combined 65 aces, 40 by the loser.
Doubles play opened Wednesday, without some regular starters. Serena and Venus Williams withdrew from their first-round match, but tournament officials did not immediately specify a reason. Both of the Williams sisters have second-round singles matches on Thursday.