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Djokovic cruises past Becker

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Novak Djokovic gives a different kind of impression on the court.

Most players have been asked for their impression of the new, blue Plexicushion courts at Melbourne Park.

After Djokovic beat Benjamin Becker 6-0, 6-2, 7-6 (5) Tuesday in his first-round match at the Australian Open, the television commentator implored Djokovic to do one of his impressions of another player — specifically Maria Sharapova — that have generated huge attention on YouTube.

At first, he resisted — I don’t want to offend anybody, he said.

But he soon gave in and did a reasonable imitation, right down to the Russian player’s tendency to brush strands of her long blonde hair back over her ears as she prepares to serve.

The crowd gave him a standing ovation, and Djokovic later assured a news conference that Sharapova doesn’t mind the impersonations.

She’s OK with it, he said.

Third-ranked Djokovic raced through the first set in just 22 minutes, generating sympathy for underdog Becker, who couldn’t seem to find anything that worked and won only three points on his serve.

About the only pain that Djokovic suffered early was self-inflicted. He had to call for the trainer after the fifth game to treat a small cut on his left knee from hitting himself with his racket.

Becker, looking increasingly disconsolate and frustrated, got a loud ovation when he held to win his first game. But Djokovic ran off the last four games of the second set.

The third set turned into a struggle.

I lost my momentum, Djokovic said. I almost lost that third set, then who knows what would happen?

Becker broke for the first and only time in the first game at love on a rash of Djokovic errors. Djokovic leveled the set at 2-all when Becker double-faulted on break point.

Becker won the first three points of the tiebreaker. He got an ace on a challenge of a line call to make it 5-5, but sent two forehands wide to finish the match.

The loss continued a stretch of five consecutive first-round exits at Grand Slams for Becker since his upset over Andre Agassi in the fourth round at the 2006 U.S. Open — the last match of Agassi’s career.

No. 10 seed David Nalbandian recovered from back spasms that forced him out of the Kooyong exhibition last week to beat Australian Robert Smeets 6-1, 6-1, 7-6 (3).

Other men advancing included No. 21 Juan Monaco of Argentina and No. 25 Fernando Verdasco of Spain, and Amer Delic beat fellow American Robert Kendrick 6-4, 7-5, 6-2.

Women’s No. 6 Anna Chakvetadze only played six points before advancing to the second round when Germany’s Andrea Petkovic retired with a leg injury.

No. 9 Daniela Hantuchova advanced 6-3, 7-5 over Vania King of the United States; No. 27 Maria Kirilenko beat American Meilen Tu 6-4, 4-6, 6-3; Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark upset Gisela Dulko of Argentina 6-1, 6-1 and Japan’s Akiko Morigami beat Michaella Krajicek 6-2, 6-2.

Top-ranked Federer, aiming for a third consecutive Australian title and claiming to be 100 percent recovered from a stomach virus that interrupted his preparation, had a night match scheduled against Diego Hartfield of Argentina.

Venus Williams was to play China’s Yan Zi on Rod Laver Arena in the first night match.

Her sister Serena, the defending champion, started off the season’s first major with a 6-3, 6-3 win Monday over wild-card entry Jarmila Gajdosova.

It was her first match back at Rod Laver Arena since a 6-1, 6-2 rout of Maria Sharapova in last year’s final, when she became only the second unseeded player and third-lowest ranked (81) player to win a Grand Slam title.

It definitely feels good to be back, Williams said. I just thought about last year, my last match on that court, I was able to win it.

That’s all I thought about. I didn’t think about the ceremony, holding up the trophy. I just got right back into the swing of things and thought, I have to stay focused.

Sharapova had an opening-round 6-4, 6-3 win over Jelena Kostanic Tosic, insisting that her previous match at Melbourne Park was long forgotten.

You can’t think about what you did in the past years, she said. You can’t think about what your results were. You just got to look forward to what’s going to come up.

What’s coming up for her is a second-round match against 2000 champion Lindsay Davenport, quickly becoming something of a Supermom after holding off Italy’s Sara Errani 6-2, 3-6, 7-5.

She lost her temper at the chair umpire on an overrule and worked through bouts of pressure, but had enough experience to extend her record to 19-1 since returning to the tour following the birth of her son, Jagger, last June.

It also made her the richest prize money earner ever in women’s tennis, lifting her career tally to $21,897,501 and surpassing Steffi Graf’s total.

Top-seeded Justine Henin was also in action Monday, extending her winning streak to 29 matches when she won the last six games of a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Japan’s Aiko Nakamura.

On the men’s side, No. 2 Rafael Nadal had to recover from service breaks in each of the first two sets to beat Viktor Troicki of Serbia 7-6 (3), 7-5, 6-1 late Monday.
Djokovic cruises past Becker – found here.


January 15, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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