Tennis: No worries for Novak

THIRD seed Novak Djokovic overcame a first-set hiccup against Marco Chiudinelli to move through to the third round of the Australian Open today.

The 22-year-old, champion at Melbourne Park two years ago, dropped the first set on Rod Laver Arena before responding in emphatic style to win 3-6, 6-1, 6-1, 6-3.

Djokovic will next meet Denis Istomin, the world No.103, after the Uzbek surprised Michael Berrer 7-5, 6-3, 6-4.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Chiudinelli took the opening set against Djokovic in 48 minutes. He twice broke his more-fancied rival, who cut a frustrated figure as he racked up 16 unforced errors.

Chiudinelli then had the chance to break in Djokovic's first service game of the second set, but the Serb fended it off with a backhand passing shot. It drew an animated celebration from Djokovic, who turned to his courtside entourage with a fist-pump, as he looked to inspire himself into action.

A poor service game from Chuidinelli helped Djokovic recover further as he took the break to go 3-1 ahead and quickly level at a set apiece.

Chiudinelli called for the trainer during the third set as he seemed to suffer from an ankle injury and, sensing his opponent was struggling, Djokovic increased the aggression of his strokeplay.

The Swiss had no answers for Djokovic's 58 winners thereafter and, while the third seed mixed that with 61 unforced errors, it was enough to send him through.

Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis, the No.17 seed, edged out Spain's David Ferrer 4-6, 3-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-3, 6-1 to claim his place in the third round.

Meanwhile, British No.1 Andy Murray expects Florent Serra to come out all guns blazing when they meet in the third round tomorrow.

In contrast to Murray, who has serenely negotiated his path into the last 32 with a couple of straight-set victories, Serra has battled through the hard way in five sets.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The Frenchman upset 28th seed Jurgen Melzer in a five-set marathon to start his campaign before going the full distance again yesterday to beat Finland's Jarkko Nieminen 3-6, 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (7/4), 7-5. That match lasted nearly four hours and Serra twice fended off match points before securing the win.

By contrast, Murray has dropped just 12 games as he breezed through his opening two matches against Kevin Anderson and Frenchman Marc Gicquel.

The fifth seed had few problems in his second-round 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 triumph over Gicquel, who is ranked higher than his countryman Serra at 64 in the world.

Murray will therefore be fully expected to progress to the fourth round, where another Frenchman, Gael Monfils, could be waiting, but for now is wary of getting into a battle with his third-round opponent.

"He's been around the 50 (ranking) mark for quite a long time," Murray said. "He's a solid player. He's had two very long matches so far and he has saved a couple of match points. So he's going to go for it. I'll have to make sure I'm on my game."

There was little for Murray to be concerned with after his game with Gicquel, except for again serving a low percentage of first serves into play.

Gicquel, however, only broke once and while he took Murray to deuce in four of six service games in the middle of the match it did little more than slow the Scot's progress to an inevitable win.

"Yeah, how terrible," Murray smiled after being asked about those service games. "I mean, this is the highest level of the sport. That's going to happen.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"I've played two matches and got broken twice – once in each match. So I'm reasonably happy with that. "I served better (against Gicquel) than I did the first day. I'm sure I'll serve better in the next round."