Cypriot fights his way to third round of the Australian Open

Cypriot tennis player Marcos Pagdatis advanced to the Australian open’s third round yesterday following a tenacious three-hour battle over five sets against Czech Radek Stepanek, currently ranked 17th. Pagdatis won the encounter’s first two sets, then lost the next two, before rebounding for a spirited five-set victory (6-4, 6-3, 3-6, 0-6, 7-5). The unseeded Cypriot is now due to meet Denis Gremelmayr of Germany, who produced another upset in the tournament’s second round by beating American Robby Ginepri, ranked 13, in another five-set battle (2-6, 5-7, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3). Stepanek and Ginepri were two of three seeded players who exited early from the tournament’s bottom half of the men’s draw, leaving second seed Andy Roddick and fourth-seeded David Nalbandian as favorites to meet in next week’s semifinals. Roddick outslugged South African serve-and-volleyer Wesley Moodie (7-5, 6-3, 6-2) to remain unbeaten this year following his win in the Kooyong Classic while Nalbandian beat improving Swiss shotmaker Stanislas Wawrinka (6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2). «There’s no such thing as an open draw,» Roddick protested. «If there’s one thing we’ve learned by seeds getting knocked out, it proves anybody can play.» World No. 1 Lindsay Davenport booked a third-round encounter against 25th seed Maria Kirilenko with a hard-fought 7-6 6-3 victory over Karolina Sprem. The Californian was not at her best but was able to raise her game when it mattered. «I wasn’t panicked and I wasn’t uptight about anything,» Davenport said. Defending champion Serena Williams issued an ominous warning to her rivals. Williams appeared to be struggling for fitness and form as she stumbled to a three-set victory over Li Na in the opening round but her 49-minute 6-3 6-1 destruction of unseeded Camille Pin dispelled any concerns about her game. «Everyone’s a threat but I’m real serious and I’m here to be a threat as well,» she told a news conference. Williams’s main rivals in the top half of the women’s draw all made it through safely. On a day when several leading women’s seeds scored impressive wins, 2004 champion Justine Henin-Hardenne of Belgium beat Hana Sromova 7-6 6-1 to confirm her position as tournament favorite. The Czech provided eighth seed Henin-Hardenne with some stubborn resistance in the opening set but her challenge faded quickly when she rolled her left ankle and crashed to the court. Greek Eleni Daniilidou, down to 96 in the rankings after peaking at 14 just a couple of seasons ago, exited early following a first-round loss to Swiss seventh seed Patty Schnyder. (Reuters, Kathimerini)

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