Rafa marches on in Melbourne
World No.1 Rafa Nadal looked every inch the top seed as he raced into the third round of the Australian Open on Thursday.
Nadal stormed past Croat Roko Karanusic 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 to book a third round appointment with unseeded German Tommy Haas, who crushed Italian Flavio Cipolla for the loss of just four games.
Im happy, no? It was a good result today, Nadal said afterwards. The other guy play very irregular. Sometimes play well, sometimes he had some mistakes. So it was a tough match to get rhythm. But the result is good.
Almost all of the mens seeds in action during Thursdays day session enjoyed a smooth passage into the third round.
The only exception was 25th seed Ivo Karlovic who lost the battle of the Croats when Mario Ancic emerged victorious from their second round marathon 5-7, 7-5, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.
It was a great day for the Frenchman, with wins for fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, sixth seed Gilles Simon, 12th seed Gael Monfils and 24th seed Richard Gasquet.
Tsonga, last years runner-up, had the toughest match but proved up to the task with a 6-7, 7-6, 7-6, 6-2 victory over Croatian dangerman Ivan Ljubicic.
Simon was pushed by giant Aussie Chris Guccione but recovered after losing the first set to win 6-7, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2.
Monfils blew away Austrian Stefan Koubek in four sets while Gasquet came through in straight sets against Uzbekistans Denis Istomin.
Gasquet will next play 13th-seeded Chilean Fernando Gonzalez, who beat Argentine Guillermo Canas 7-5, 6-3, 6-4.
James Blake kept the American fans happy late in the day with a routine 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 victory over another Frenchman Sebastien de Chaunac.
Seventeenth-seeded Spaniard Nicolas Almagro was another winner as he was too solid for Italian Fabio Fognini 6-2, 7-5, 6-0. His reward is a third round meeting with Monfils.
Fourteenth seed Fernando Verdasco, 22nd seed Radek Stepanek and 31st seed Jurgen Melzer all came through their second round matches unscathed.
Late in the day the bottom half of the womens draw was blown wide open with the shock departure of Venus Williams.
Williams looked like she was on her way into the third round when she won the opening set and led 5-2 in the decider against little-known Spaniard Carlo Suarez Navarro.
But the world No.46 stuck to her guns to pull off the biggest shock of the tournament so far with a 2-6, 6-3, 7-5 victory.
Earlier, sister Serena made sure at least one member of the family went through and was joined in the thrid round by fourth seed Elena Dementieva and eighth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Serena was too good for in-form Argentine Gisela Dulko 6-3, 7-5, a result that books her a third round clash with Chinas Shuai Peng.
Olympic champion Dementieva continued her excellent recent form she already has two titles under her belt in 2009 with a 6-4, 6-1 success over Czech Iveta Benesova.
Kuzenetsova was another big name to go through without much fuss when she thrashed German Tatjana Malek 6-2, 6-2.
Twelfth-seeded Italian Flavia Pennetta proved too experienced for young Aussie Jessica Moore during her 6-4, 6-1 victory.
The thirteenth seed, Victoria Azarenka, had one of the easiest jobs of all the seeds when her opponent, Tathiana Garbin, retired after just five games.
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