Australian Open: Nadal crushes Croatian to reach third round (Lead)

January 22nd, 2009 - 5:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Rafael NadalMelbourne, Jan 22 (DPA) Rafael Nadal continued his charge through the Australian Open Thursday, crushing Croatian Roko Karanusic 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 to comfortably reach the third round.The Spanish top seed and world number one has lost just 11 games through two rounds with his hard-court form looking ominous.

“It was a good result today,” he said. “The other guy played very irregular. Sometimes he played well, sometimes he had some mistakes. It was a tough match to get the rhythm, but the result is good.”

Nadal is growing in confidence as he aims to lift his first Grand Slam title on the surface after a 2008 breakthrough.

“When you win in Toronto, you win in the Olympics, Montreal, Madrid, Indian Wells, all on this kind of surface, why you can’t win a Grand Slam on hard court?” Nadal asked. “I always try. I’m trying to improve always on this surface.”

Sixth seed Gilles Simon recovered after losing the first set to Australian Chris Guccione, advancing smoothly from then on to a 6-7 (5-7), 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 result.

He was joined as a winner by fellow Frenchman Gael Monfils as the Australian-coached number 12 ousted Stefan Koubek 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2.

Spanish 14th seed Fernando Verdasco followed up a first-round defeat of Lleyton Hewitt as he stopped French veteran Arnaud Clement 7-5, 6-3, 6-4.

Women’s three-time winner Serena Williams fought past Argentine Gisela Dulko 6-3, 7-5, including a second-set game that comprised a dozen deuces.

“I was able to get through it not playing my best, so I guess that’s how I would sum it up,” the second seed said. “I was pretty relaxed in that long game actually. I just thought, ‘Wow, hit a winner or just try to stay focused.’”

Russian Elena Dementieva had her 12th-straight victory in a stunning season start, powering into the third round 6-4, 6-1 over Czech Iveta Benesova.

Fourth-seeded Dementieva, the Olympic champion, has won both of her WTA events this season in Auckland and Sydney to stand a perfect 12-0.

“I had a very good start of the year, but right now, it’s the most important moment,” the winner said. “That’s why we’re coming here to play the Australian Open. I just hope to play well here.”

Dementieva needed little more than an hour to claim her victory, striking 20 winners and breaking on five of nine opportunities.

“I just played a little bit better than my first match,” she said. “This is what I need if I want to improve - if I want to go all the way.”

She was joined by compatriot Svetlana Kuznetsova, seeded eighth, who beat German Tatjana Malek 6-2, 6-2.

Italy’s 12th-seeded Flavia Pennetta booted out Australian wild card Jessica Moore 6-4, 6-1

France’s Virginie Razzano pulled off a minor upset as she put out Swiss 14th seed, Patty Schnyder, 6-3, 6-1 in the 30-year-old veteran’s 13th Melbourne appearance.

Amelie Mauresmo, the 2006 winner, kept up her comeback in the game after injury as she eliminated the last British hope in qualifier Elena Baltacha 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

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