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Rediff.com  » Sports » Murray marches on, Hewitt exits

Murray marches on, Hewitt exits

Last updated on: January 20, 2009 13:06 IST

Melbourne Park's first glimpse of Andy Murray was a brief one on Tuesday as the bookmakers' favourite for the Australian Open zipped through to round two in double-quick time when his opponent retired injured.

Murray had been leading Andrei Pavel 6-2, 3-1 when the Romanian quit after 45 minutes with a back injury that kept him out of the sport for most of last year.

Pavel later quit the sport for good.

"I guess if you want to do well in the tournament, it's good to conserve some energy... hopefully that was a good thing," fourth seed Murray said, weighing the pros and cons of a quick outing.

Serena Williams did not waste too much time either, cantering through with a 6-3, 6-2 win over China's Yuan Meng. The American second seed is seeking a fourth Australian title after winning here in 2003, 2005 and 2007.

"It was a little hot for me today," she smiled, sipping a drink. "It was a case of taking my time, not giving 1,000 percent, you know?

"I was getting super thirsty out there -- at one stage I had to stop and have a drink of water," she laughed.

"It was definitely extreme conditions," she added, stifling a sniffle. "I do have a little bit of a head cold... I hope that goes away."

Venus Williams joined her younger sister Serena in the second round after an enigmatic 6-3, 6-3 victory over Germany's Angelique Kerber on Tuesday.

Sixth seed Venus, who is still seeking her first title at Melbourne Park despite having five Wimbledon and two U.S. Open titles, raced to a 5-0 first-set lead against the world number 100, who then won the next three games and saved a set point.

The 28-year-old Williams, however, snapped out of her funk to hold serve and take the first set before Kerber put up a tougher challenge in the second, having two opportunities on serve to take a 4-1 lead.

Williams again responded to level at 3-3 and broke to take a 4-3 lead, at which point Kerber sought treatment on her heavily strapped right knee.

The injury break only delayed the inevitable and the world number six steamrolled to victory by holding serve and breaking to love to seal the win in 80 minutes.

World number four Elena Dementieva survived the scorching heat to see off Kristina Barrois. Unbeaten so far this year after picking up titles in Auckland and Sydney, Dementieva beat the German 7-6, 2-6, 6-1.

"It was a very tough match, especially because of the weather conditions today. And also it was not easy for me to come here after playing so many matches in a row," the blonde Russian said.

"I'm sure I wouldn't have minded one or two extra days before. But those are kind of days you have to survive. I'm just very glad I was able to do it."

She will next meet the winner of the match between Russia's Vera Dushevina and Iveta Benesova of the Czech Republic.

Polish ninth seed Agnieszka Radwanska was an early casualty, falling 7-6, 4-6, 6-1 to Ukraine's Kateryna Bondarenko.

Meanwhile, Lleyton Hewitt was bundled out of the Australian Open on Tuesday after losing his first round match to Chile's Fernando Gonzalez 5-7, 6-2, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.

It was Hewitt's first opening round defeat at the Australian Open since 2002, when had was struck down by chicken pox.

The Australian, a finalist at Melbourne Park four years ago, slipped down the rankings last year after undergoing hip surgery and only returned to competition this month.

Source:
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