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Djokovic impresses in first round

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 on 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).

Fifth seeded David Ferrer beat Edouard Roger-Vasselin 6-2 6-2 6-1 and Dutch player Robin Haase ousted No. 17 Ivan Ljubicic 6-7 6-3 6-0 7-6.

Marcos Baghdatis, the 2006 runner-up, beat 2002 champion Thomas Johansson 7-6 6-2 3-6 6-3 and Amer Delic beat fellow American Robert Kendrick 6-4 7-5 6-2.

Other men advancing included No. 19 Lleyton Hewitt, No. 21 Juan Monaco of Argentina and No. 25 Fernando Verdasco of Spain.

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.
Djokovic impresses in first round – found here.

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January 15, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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