Favourites sail in Melbournehttps://indianexpress.com/article/news-archive/print/favourites-sail-in-melbourne/

Favourites sail in Melbourne

Nadal,Murray,Serena ease to victories on a day without upsets at the Australian Open

Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray dominated their third-round matches Saturday at the Australian Open to move closer to a possible semi-final showdown.

Top-ranked Nadal was broken by Tommy Haas for the first time in the tournament,but showed no weakness in ripping 53 winners to only eight unforced errors in a 6-4,6-2,6-2 victory.

“I think I played one of my best matches here at the Australian Open,” said Nadal,making his fifth appearance at Melbourne Park.

He will face 13th-seeded Fernando Gonzalez of Chile,who beat Nadal in straight sets en route to a runner-up finish in 2007,who needed more than four hours to beat France’s Richard Gasquet with a 12-10 fifth set.

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The fourth-seeded Murray,seeking his first Grand Slam title,ran off 11 straight games while overwhelming Jurgen Melzer 7-5,6-0,6-3. The 21-year-old Scot had only 10 unforced errors and next plays No 14 Fernando Verdasco.

“I hope I can keep this form up,” Murray said. “I’m going to have to play my best every match to have a chance.”

Serena Williams wasn’t her sharpest,but she hasn’t had to be so far. She beat China’s Peng Shuai 6-1,6-4. Williams overcame two service breaks in the second set to keep alive her pursuit of a 10th Grand Slam title. She next faces No 13 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus,who ousted 2006 Australian Open and Wimbledon champion Amelie Mauresmo.

Olympic gold medallist Elena Dementieva beat Australia’s Samantha Stosur. Carla Suarez Navarro beat fellow Spaniard Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez.

Also advancing were No 21 Anabel Medina Garrigues,who ousted 12th-seeded Flavia Pennetta of Italy,and No 18 Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia.

The Bondarenko sisters of Ukraine both were ousted. Kateryna lost to No 22 Zheng Jie of China and older sister Alona fell to No 8 Svetlana Kuznetsova,the 2004 US Open champion.

Fifth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat Israeli Dudi Sela and next meets No 9 James Blake. Gael Monfils,a French Open semi-finalist last year,beat No 17 Nicolas Almagro of Spain and will face No 6 Gilles Simon,who ousted No 19 Mario Ancic of Croatia.

Bhupathi-Knowles through

Mahesh Bhupathi and his Bahamian partner Mark Knowles advanced to the third round after a straight-set victory but it was curtains for Rohan Bopanna and his Finnish partner Jarkko Nieminen,who lost their second-round match. Third seeds Bhupathi and Knowles had to fend off a tough fight from the unseeded Russian pair of Igor Kunitsyn and Dmitry Tursunov before emerging 7-5,7-5 winners in a 92-minute duel.

The pair will next take on Nicolas Lapentti of Ecuador and Tommy Robredo of Spain who defeated Bopanna and Nieminen 6-4,6-4. Bopanna and Nieminen were error-prone,committing as many as 16 unforced errors.

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Meanwhile,junior world No 2 Yuki Bhambri,who reached the semis here last year,has been given the top billing in the boys event and will open against German Sanchez Delfin of Mexico.

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