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Updated: January 17, 2012 02:15 IST

Nadal overcomes knee problem to win first round

AP
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Rafael Nadal makes a forehand return to Alex Kuznetsov of the US during their first round match at the Australian Open tennis championship, in Melbourne, Australia on Monday.
AP Rafael Nadal makes a forehand return to Alex Kuznetsov of the US during their first round match at the Australian Open tennis championship, in Melbourne, Australia on Monday.

Rafael Nadal has a new injury issue a tendon problem in his right knee that nearly prompted him to forfeit a first—round match at the Australian Open that he managed to win easily.

Roger Federer and Kim Clijsters, both bothered by injuries coming into the tournament, also advanced to the second round in more routine fashion on Monday and said they felt they were over their ailments.

That wasn’t the case with Nadal. Bothered by a left shoulder injury late last year, Nadal had his right knee heavily taped during his 6—4, 6—1, 6—1 win over Alex Kuznetsov. The injury occurred in the most innocent of ways sitting in a chair in his hotel room when he felt “a crack” in his knee and some “unbelievable pain.”

He had an MRI scan late Sunday that showed no major damage to his knee, but before that, the incident left him thinking “I wasn’t 100 percent sure I would have a chance to play.”

“That’s in the past,” Nadal said when asked about his shoulder injury in a post—match television interview. But it was a different story later when he talked about his knee.

“I was sitting on a chair in the hotel, I felt like a crack on the knee ... really strange, he said. “I stand up. I felt the knee a little bit strange. I moved the leg like this two times to try to find the feeling. After the second time, the knee stays with an unbelievable pain completely straight. I have no movement on the knee.”

“The best thing is I felt the knee very well. I really don’t understand why happened everything, but I am really happy that today I was ready to play and I played a fantastic match.”

Federer, who pulled out of a tournament in Doha two weeks ago with back soreness, began the quest for his 17th Grand Slam title and first since the 2010 Australian Open with a 7—5, 6—2, 6—2 win over qualifier Alexander Kudryavtsev.

It was Federer’s 60th win at the Australian Open, and he also has 60—plus wins at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

The third—seeded Federer took the first two sets and was up a break in the third before the Russian rallied with a break of serve in the fifth game of the final set. Federer, however, broke Kudryavtsev in the next game with a backhand crosscourt winner and sealed the match when the Russian hit a forehand wide.

“No problem, I am happy to be 100 percent fit,” Federer said after his win.

He batted away just as quickly speculation about a possibly divisive issue with Nadal.

Nadal was critical of Federer on Sunday for not speaking out publicly in support of players who are pushing the ATP for changes in areas such as tournament scheduling and prize money.

“Things are fine between us, you know. I have no hard feelings towards him,” Federer said. “It’s been a difficult last few months in terms of politics within the ATP.

Nadal has “mentioned many times how he gets a bit tired and frustrated through the whole process, and I shared that with him. It’s normal. But for me, obviously nothing changes in terms of our relationship. I’m completely cool and relaxed about it.”

Defending women’s champion Clijsters opened with a 7—5, 6—1 win over Portuguese qualifier Maria Joao Koehler, showing no signs of the hip spasms which forced her to withdraw from a tuneup event in Brisbane 10 day ago.

No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki aimed to join Clijsters in the second round when she played her first match later Monday at Rod Laver Arena.

Li Na, who lost the Australian final to Clijsters last year, had a 6—3, 6—1 win over Ksenia Pervak of Kazakhstan. In the first featured match of the tournament, third—seeded Victoria Azarenka won 12 straight games to finish off Heather Watson 6—1, 6—0 in 67 minutes in the opening match on center court.

Li was a trailblazer for China last year, reaching a Grand Slam singles final for the first time before losing to Clijsters at Melbourne Park. At the subsequent major, she won the French Open to become the first player from China to win a Grand Slam singles title.

“I hope I can go one better this year,” Li said of her Australian Open campaign. She had a confidence—boosting buildup that included match wins at the Hopman Cup and Sydney.

Of the six women who can reach the top ranking, eighth—ranked Agnieszka Radwanska has the biggest task, having to win the Australian title. She had a battle on her hands just to make the second round, fending off American Bethanie Mattek—Sands 6—7 (10), 6—4, 6—2 in a three—hour match on Show Court 2.

Other women advancing included No. 16—seeded Peng Shuai of China, No. 20 Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia, No. 22 Julia Goerges, No. 26 Anabel Medina Garrigues of Spain and Eleni Daniilidou of Greece beat 41—year—old Kimiko Date—Krumm of Japan 6—3, 6—2.

No. 19 Flavia Pennetta, No. 23 Lucie Safarova and No. 28 Yanina Wickmayer were among the first—round losers.

Most of the local attention Monday was on 19—year—old Bernard Tomic, who rallied from two sets down to beat No. 22—seeded Fernando Verdasco 4—6, 6—7 (3), 6—4, 6—2, 7—5. A five—set win over the 2009 semifinalist will no doubt give Tomic a confidence boost as he attempts to become the first Australian man since 1976 to win the national title.

“Today wasn’t fun, it was torture,” said Tomic, who reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals last year. “I don’t know how I found the energy to lift, how I did it, but I thank the crowd.”

Eighth—seeded Mardy Fish, the highest ranked of the U.S. men, had a 6—4, 6—4, 6—2 win over Gilles Muller to progress along with 2009 U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro, No. 7 Tomas Berdych, No. 10 Nicolas Almagro, No. 13 Alexandr Dolgopolov, No. 18 Feliciano Lopez, No. 21 Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland and No. 30 Kevin Anderson of South Africa.

No. 25 Juan Monaco, No. 28 Ivan Ljubicic and No. 31 Jurgen Melzer joined Verdasco as other seeded players to lose.

Wozniacki wins

Top—seeded Caroline Wozniacki made light of concerns over a wrist injury as she beat Anastasia Rodionova of Australia 6—2, 6—1 in the first round of the Australian Open on Monday.

Wozniacki hurt her left wrist in a quarterfinal loss at the Sydney International last week, but the injury didn’t appear to trouble her as she thrashed Rodionova in 76 minutes.

Wozniacki, who is seeking her first Grand Slam title, must reach at least the fourth round at Melbourne Park to hold on to her top ranking.

Results:

Kevin Anderson (30), South Africa, def. Frederik Nielsen, Denmark, 6—1, 6—2, 6—4.

Blaz Kavcic, Slovenia, def. James Ward, Britain, 6—4, 6—3, 6—4.

Nicolas Almagro (10), Spain, def. Lukasz Kubot, Poland, 1—6, 7—5, 6—3, 7—5.

Juan Martin del Potro (11), Argentina, def. Adrian Mannarino, France, 2—6, 6—1, 7—5, 6—4.

Pere Riba, Spain, def. Albert Montanes, Spain, 7—6 (2), 2—6, 6—4, 7—6 (5).

Flavio Cipolla, Italy, def. Nikolay Davydenko, Russia, 6—4, 4—6, 3—6, 6—2, 6—1.

Feliciano Lopez (18), Spain, def. Leonardo Mayer, Argentina, 7—6 (5), 6—3, 7—6 (2).

Ivo Karlovic, Croatia, def. Jurgen Melzer (31), Austria, 7—6 (3), 7—5, 6—3.

Tobias Kamke, Germany, def. Victor Hanescu, Romania, 6—2, 6—1, 6—2.

Tomas Berdych (7), Czech Republic, def. Albert Ramos, Spain, 7—5, 4—6, 6—2, 6—3.

Sergiy Stakhovsky, Ukraine, def. Illya Marchenko, Ukraine, 6—3, 6—7 (9), 4—6, 6—3, 7—5.

Mardy Fish (8), United States, def. Gilles Muller, Luxembourg, 6—4, 6—4, 6—2.

Sam Querrey, United States, def. Kenny de Schepper, France, 6—3, 6—2, 6—2.

Stanislas Wawrinka (21), Switzerland, def. Benoit Paire, France, 6—1, 6—1, 7—5.

Bernard Tomic, Australia, def. Fernando Verdasco (22), Spain, 4—6, 6—7 (3), 6—4, 6—2, 7—5.

Florent Serra, France, def. Steve Darcis, Belgium, 6—7 (3), 3—6, 5—4 retired.

Olivier Rochus, Belgium, def. Bjorn Phau, Germany, 6—1, 6—4, 6—0.

Carlos Berlocq, Argentina, def. Jesse Huta Galung, Netherlands, 2—6, 6—3, 7—6 (3), 6—3.

Alejandro Falla, Colombia, def. Fabio Fognini, Italy, 6—3, 6—2, 3—6, 6—1.

Tommy Haas, Germany, def. Denis Kudla, United States, 7—6 (5), 3—6, 6—0, 7—5.

Donald Young, United States, def. Peter Gojowczyk, Germany, 6—1, 6—2, 4—6, 1—6, 6—2.

Alexandr Dolgopolov (13), Ukraine, def. Greg Jones, Australia, 1—6, 4—6, 6—1, 6—1, 6—2.

Lukas Lacko, Slovakia, def. Ivan Ljubicic (28), Croatia, 3—6, 4—6, 6—3, 6—4, 6—4.

Philipp Kohlschreiber, Germany, def. Juan Monaco (25), Argentina, 7—5, 4—6, 6—3, 6—7 (4), 6—0.

Marcos Baghdatis, Cyprus, def. Benjamin Becker, Germany, 6—1, 7—6 (5), 6—2.

Grigor Dimitrov, Bulgaria, def. Jeremy Chardy, France, 4—6, 6—3, 3—6, 6—4, 6—4.

Rafael Nadal (2), Spain, def. Alex Kuznetsov, United States, 6—4, 6—1, 6—1.

John Isner (16), United States, def. Benjamin Mitchell, Australia, 6—4, 6—4, 7—6 (1).

Roger Federer (3), Switzerland, def. Alexander Kudryavtsev, Russia, 7—5, 6—2, 6—2.

David Nalbandian, Argentina, def. Jarkko Nieminen, Finland, 6—4, 4—2, retired.

Yen—hsun Lu, Taiwan, def. Rik de Voest, South Africa, 6—4, 3—6, 6—1, 3—6, 6—3.

Andreas Beck, Germany, def. Eric Prodon, France, 6—4, 6—2, 4—6, 7—5.

Victoria Azarenka (3), Belarus, def. Heather Watson, Britain, 6—1, 6—0.

Casey Dellacqua, Australia, def. Bojana Jovanovski, Serbia, 6—3, 6—2.

Eleni Daniilidou, Greece, def. Kimiko Date—Krumm, Japan, 6—3, 6—2.

Lesia Tsurenko, Ukraine, def. Arantxa Rus, Netherlands, 7—6 (4), 6—1.

Anabel Medina Garrigues (26), Spain, def. Eva Birnerova, Czech Republic, 6—3, 6—3.

Daniela Hantuchova (20), Slovakia, def. Varvara Lepchenko, United States, 4—6, 6—3, 6—2.

Paula Ormaechea, Argentina, def. Simona Halep, Romania, 6—1, 3—6, 7—5.

Agnieszka Radwanska (8), Poland, def. Bethanie Mattek—Sands, United States, 6—7 (10), 6—4, 6—2.

Julia Goerges (22), Germany, def. Polona Hercog, Slovenia, 6—3, 7—6 (3).

Nina Bratchikova, Russia, def. Flavia Pennetta (19), Italy, 6—3, 1—6, 6—2.

Petra Cetkovska (32), Czech Republic, def. Ayumi Morita, Japan, 3—6, 6—1, 7—5.

Li Na (5), China, def. Ksenia Pervak, Kazakhstan, 6—3, 6—1.

Romina Oprandi, Italy, def. Anastasiya Yakimova, Belarus, 6—4, 6—1.

Christina McHale, United States, def. Lucie Safarova (24), Czech Republic, 6—2, 6—4.

Peng Shuai (16), China, def. Aravane Rezai, France, 6—3, 6—4.

Olga Govortsova, Belarus, def. Patricia Mayr—Achleitner, Austria, 6—2, 6—4.

Francesca Schiavone (10), Italy, def. Laura Pous, Spain, 6—1, 6—3.

Kim Clijsters (11), Belgium, def. Maria Joao Koehler, Portugal, 7—5, 6—1.

Alberta Brianti, Italy, def. Irina Falconi, United States, 6—2, 7—5.

Stephanie Foretz Gacon, France, def. Elena Baltacha, Britain, 6—2, 6—4.

Galina Voskoboeva, Kazakhstan, def. Yanina Wickmayer (28), Belgium, 7—5, 6—2.

Chang Kai—chen, Taiwan, def. Petra Martic, Croatia, 6—4, 6—2.

Tsvetana Pironkova, Bulgaria. def. Sania Mirza, India, 6—4, 6—2.

Anna Tatishvili, Georgia, def. Ashleigh Barty, Australia, 6—2, 7—6 (4).

Olivia Rogowska, Australia, def. Sofia Arvidsson, Sweden, 6—3, 6—1.

Mona Barthel, Germany, def. Anne Keothavong, Britain, 6—0, retired.

Iveta Benesova, Czech Republic, def. Mathilde Johansson, France, 6—3, 2—6, 6—4.

Jelena Jankovic (13), Serbia, def. Laura Robson, Britain, 6—2, 6—0.

Pauline Parmentier, France, def. Alla Kudryavtseva, Russia, 6—3, 5—7, 6—3.

Marina Erakovic, New Zealand, def. Irena Pavlovic, France, 7—5, 7—6 (4).

Caroline Wozniacki (1), Denmark, def. Anastasia Rodionova, Australia, 6—2, 6—1.

Monica Niculescu (31), Romania, def. Alize Cornet, France, 5—7, 6—0, 6—3.

Keywords: Australian Open

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