Impressive Nadal mows down Haas (Australian Open Roundup)

January 24th, 2009 - 9:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Rafael NadalMelbourne, Jan 24 (DPA) Rafael Nadal maintained momentum in his chase for a career-first Australian Open tennis title, hammering Tommy Haas 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 to power into the fourth round here Saturday.Nadal, the world number one, improved to 4-0 against the German who has undergone multiple shoulder surgeries and was playing for the first time since the US Open four months ago.

“I played my best match here in Australia. I’m very happy with my level today,” said Nadal after a midnight finish in just over two hours. “It was a good day for me. I can sleep with big satisfaction tonight.”

Nadal improved to 17-4 at Melbourne Park as he manhandled Haas, a one-time world number two, whose injury setbacks have hampered his promising career. Nadal ended with more than 50 clean winners.

The 30-year-old Haas dropped serve in the fifth game of the first two sets, with Nadal running away with the third to advance into the second week of a major he has never won.

Last year’s finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga paced a seeded French sweep with a 6-4, 6-2, 1-6, 6-1 defeat of Israeli Dudi Sela.

Tsonga, beaten last year in the title match by Novak Djokovic, was followed by sixth-seeded compatriots Gilles Simon and Gael Monfils.

Number six Simon needed more than one hour to lift the first set and two and a half hours in total before posting a decision over Croatian Mario Ancic 7-6 (7-2), 6-4, 6-2.

Monfils, with new discipline and focus instilled by Australian coach Roger Rasheed, completed the winning trio as he defeated Spaniard Nicolas Almagro 6-4, 6-3, 7-5.

“I played a good game again today, everything was great,” said Monfils. “I’m trying to concentrate more, from the first point to the last. And if one tactic is not working I try to change it for another one.”

Childhood junior rivals Simon and Monfils will meet for the first time on the Tour level in the fourth round.

Andy Murray reinforced his position as a title contender, crushing Austrian Jurgen Melzer 7-5, 6-0, 6-3.

Murray, winner of the season’s first event in Doha, has more than made up for a first-round exit a year ago.

On the women’s side, three-time champion Serena Williams shoved aside mental images of the male streaker who interrupted her Friday doubles with sister Venus.

Williams, seeded second and champion at Melbourne Park in 2003, 2005 and 2007, dispatched China’s Peng Shuai 6-1, 6-4 in the third round.

The American said she was more amused than shocked when a spectator wearing just a T-shirt danced across the doubles court 24 hours earlier. The streaker lasted for less than a minute before being taken off by security officials.

“This is crazy, doesn’t really happen too much,” said Williams. “Then I just thought, my eyes, my innocent eyes.”

Russian Elena Dementieva improves to a phenomenal 13-0 on the season after beating Samantha Stosur 7-6 (7-5), 6-4. The Australian led 5-2 in the first set but could not take advantage. “We had a great fight at the start,” she said.

Russian eighth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova continued to quietly move through the draw, defeating Alona Bondarenko of Ukraine 7-6 (9-7), 6-4.

There was continued momentum for unfancied Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro, winner over Venus Williams a round earlier, with the 20-year-old advancing over compatriot Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez 6-1, 6-4.

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