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Federer, Mauresmo cruise into second round

Federer wasted no time getting his campaign under way, cruising to 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 win over wild card entry Istomin.

india Updated: Jan 17, 2006 10:57 IST
John Pye (AP)
John Pye (AP)

Top-ranked Roger Federer wasted no time getting his Australian Open campaign under way, cruising to 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 win Tuesday over wild card entry Denis Istomin. Federer was broken once, when he was serving for the second set, and faced only three break points in the 83-minute match. The overwhelming favorite for the title, Federer lost only one point on his serve in the second set until he made three uncharacteristically erratic errors to give Istomin the break in the second-to-last game.

Federer drew a near-capacity crowd to Rod Laver Arena for the first match of the day. While the crowd was cheering for Istomin to mount a comeback and extend the match, Federer finished it off with a service winner, then basked in a standing ovation. "It's never really easy, first round in a Grand Slam," said Federer, who met Istomin for the first time in the locker room before the match. "As long as I win, I'm happy it was a good start."

Istomin, a 19-year-old player from Uzbekistan, is ranked 195th. Playing in his first top-tier event, he had some highlights. He twice aced Federer in his opening service game and in the sixth game of the second set. He had eight aces overall, against only two for Federer.

"I played good today, but had too many unforced errors," said Istomin, who had 39 unforced errors. "It was very good for my career ... he gave me seven games."

It was Federer's second tour event since losing the final of the season-ending Masters Cup final to David Nalbandian at Shanghai, where he hobbled in on crutches because of an injured right ankle. He defended his title at Doha, Qatar, two weeks ago and played in an exhibition tournament at Kooyong last week.

Former No 2-ranked Tommy Haas, who upset Federer in the Kooyong exhibition last week, had a 6-2, 7-5, 6-2 win over 14th-seeded Richard Gasquet. Gasquet was one of only four players to beat Federer in 2005.

Gasquet's fellow French teenager, Gael Monfils, lost 6-4, 7-5, 6-1 to Luis Horna of Peru. Sixth-seeded Guillermo Coria of Argentina beat Victor Hanescu of Romania 6-4, 1-6, 4-6, 6-2, 6-1. French women Mary Pierce and Amelie Mauresmo advanced in contrasting fashion.

Fifth-seeded Pierce, the 1995 Australian Open champion and a finalist at the French and US Opens last season, breezed past local wild-card entry Nicole Pratt 6-1, 6-1 in 52 minutes. Mauresmo, winner of the season-ending WTA Championship in November, struggled at times in a 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 win over China's Sun Tiantian, a doubles gold medalist at the Athens Olympics. A longtime contender, Mauresmo has never improved on her final appearance here in 1999 as he best showing at a Grand Slam event. She was broken three times in the two-hour match and converted only six of her 15 breakpoint chances, starting 0-6 until she got her breakthrough in the second set.

Three-time Australian Open champion Martina Hingis was to resume her comeback from retirement against Russia's Vera Zvonareva in a night match.

Seventh-seeded Patty Schnyder beat Eleni Daniilidou of Greece 6-4, 6-3 and No 12 Anastasia Myskina, the 2004 French Open champion, beat Ukraine's Yuliana Fedak 7-6 (6), 6-1. Third-seeded Lleyton Hewitt opened later Tuesday against Robin Vik of the Czech Republic.

Losing finalist here last year, Hewitt shapes as a semifinal rival for Federer.

Federer finished 81-4 in 2005, winning 11 titles including Wimbledon and the US Open.

The 24-year-old Swiss star lost to the eventual champions at the Australian and French, but neither is in the draw at Melbourne Park. Marat Safin didn't return to defend his title here because of a chronic knee problem and second-ranked Rafael Nadal, the French Open champion, is out with an injured foot.

Federer next plays the winner of Tuesday's late match between South Korea's Lee Hyung-taik and Germany's Florian Mayer.

First Published: Jan 17, 2006 10:57 IST